Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) for PTSD


This intensive 2-day module provides training in PE, an evidence-based treatment of PTSD described in the manual, Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD – Therapist Guide, by Foa et al., 2007. It covers the theoretical underpinnings and research behind PE and reviews the main clinical techniques used in this structured protocol. Step-by-step instructions for conducting PE therapy sessions, including in-vivo and imaginal exposure, along with strategies for working with over- and under-engaged patients and other difficult cases, are shared. Videotaped examples of PE cases are used to demonstrate therapist skills. Participants are expected to do role-plays in class to practice PE techniques, and they must attend both days.


  1. Theory and research behind PE

  2. Dateline video; overview of sessions 1 through 10; establishing the therapeutic alliance; Session 1: Description of course of treatment, overall rationale and breathing retraining exercise

  3. Break into triads to practice giving description of PE treatment and overall rationale; introduce Session 2 and discuss common reactions to trauma; show DVD to demonstrate key points

  4. Continue with Session 2 and review in-vivo exposure; rationale, use of SUDS, construction of hierarchy, safety guidelines, and assignment of homework; show DVD to demonstrate key points; break into triads to practice constructing in-vivo hierarchy

  5. Introduce Session 3 and imaginal exposure: Rationale, procedures, and assignment of homework; show DVD to demonstrate key points; break into triads to practice doing imaginal exposure

  6. Hotspot procedures and final session

  7. Special patient issues: Avoidance, anger, obstacles to homework compliance, maintaining focus on PTSD, family interference, avoidance, other

  8. Procedural modifications for imaginal exposure and special circumstances

  9. Final questions and wrap-up

Learning Objectives:

  1. Evaluate evidence-based treatments for Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  2. Assess the empirical support for treating PTSD using Prolonged Exposure (PE).

  3. Articulate the theoretical basis for using PE to treat PTSD.

  4. Evaluate the role maladaptive fear structures play in non-recovery from trauma.

  5. Employ the PE protocol and its four main techniques.

  6. Generate homework assignments used in PE.

  7. Investigate the mechanisms underlying in-vivo and imaginal exposure.

  8. Communicate the overall rationale of PE.

  9. Develop an in-vivo hierarchy.

  10. Administer imaginal exposure.

  11. Recommend strategies to modify PE for specific patients.

  12. Incorporate strategies for assessing the outcome of PE.

  13. Anticipate and manage organizational barriers to implementing PE.

  14. Apply PE to deployment-related PTSD clinical cases.

Duration: 840 minutes (10 minute break required every 90 mins). Course covers two days.


Recommended prerequisites for this course are Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy for PTSD in Veterans and Military Personnel and Epidemiology of PTSD in Military Personnel and VeteransThis module includes DVD / video clips that may be distressing to some audience members.  Speaker will disclose this to the audience prior to the presentation. This module requires breakout sessions for participants to do role-plays, so room should be large enough to allow a minimum of 8 inch separation between breakout groups of two or three participants each.

*Continuing education credits are available for this course. Fees may apply.