Summary – Is it safe to face your trauma?

New research changes the paradigm for trauma victims.

  • 50 – 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced trauma
  • 15 percent of these people will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Only about half of people with PTSD get treatment
  • Many traumatized people don’t want to talk about it because they worry they will feel worse
  • Trauma can lower self esteem. People can begin to abuse substances like alcohol or drugs, become suicidal, or harm themselves.
  • The therapeutic mindset always was:“safety first.” Therapists would not help patients explore their trauma until the therapist was assured of the patient’s safety. So sometimes it never got talked about.  

Prolonged Exposure Therapy 

  • Prolonged exposure (PE) therapy exposes people to their traumatic memories repeatedly until the memories of the trauma become less powerful. 
  • It takes 6-12 sessions. 
  • The sessions are recorded for the client to listen to repeatedly between sessions.
  • This is an evidence-based treatment.

Here’s Dr. Palmer’s Advancing Psychiatry column in Psychology Today, including the original article.


  • Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):617-27
  • Kilpatrick, D. G., Resnick, H. S., Milanak, M. E., Miller, M. W., Keyes, K. M., & Friedman, M. J. (2013). National estimates of exposure to traumatic events and PTSD prevalence using DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria. Journal of traumatic stress, 26(5), 537-47.
  • National Center for PTSD, retrieved from

Other Advancing Psychiatry articles

Christie Barnett, APN

Christie is an Advanced Practice Nurse with over 35 years experience working with people in mental health care. She currently has a private, outpatient psychotherapy practice in Millburn, NJ. You can follow her on Instagram at keto.nj

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