1 CLINICAL PRACTICEGUIDELINEPTSD www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline


Jill, a 32-year-old Afghanistan War Veteran This case example explains how Jill’s therapist used a cognitive worksheet as a starting point for engaging in Socratic dialogue.

This is a case example for the treatment of PTSD using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is strongly recommended by the APA Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of PTSD.

Jill, a 32-year-old Afghanistan war veteran, had been experiencing PTSD symptoms for over 5 years. She consistently avoided thoughts and images related to witnessing her fellow service members being hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) while driving a combat supply truck. Over the years, Jill became increasingly depressed and began using alcohol on a daily basis to help assuage her PTSD symptoms. She had difficulties in her employment, missing many days of work, and she reported feeling disconnected and numb around her husband and children. In addition to a range of other PTSD symptoms, Jill had a recurring nightmare of the event in which she was the leader of a convoy and her lead truck broke down. She waved the second truck forward, the truck that hit the IED, while she and her fellow service members on the first truck worked feverishly to repair it. Consistent with the traumatic event, her nightmare included images of her and the service members on the first truck smiling and waving at those on the second truck, and the service members on the second truck making fun of the broken truck and their efforts to fix it — “Look at that piece of junk truck — good luck getting that clunker fixed.”

After a thorough assessment of her PTSD and comorbid symptoms, psychoeducation about PTSD symptoms, and a rationale for using trauma focused cognitive interventions, Jill received 10 sessions of cognitive therapy for PTSD. She was first assigned cognitive worksheets to begin self-monitoring events, her thoughts about these events, and consequent feelings. These worksheets were used to sensitize Jill to the types of cognitions that she was having about current day events and to appraisals that she had about the explosion. For example, one of the thoughts she recorded related to the explosion was, “I should have had them wait and not had them go on.” She recorded her related feeling to be guilt. Jill’s therapist used this worksheet as a starting point for engaging in Socratic dialogue, as shown in the following example:

Therapist: Jill, do you mind if I ask you a few questions about this thought that you noticed, “I should have had them wait and not had them go on?”

Client: Sure.

Therapist: Can you tell me what

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