Complementary and integrative interventions for PTSD

To treat the impact of trauma, most current evidence supports the use of trauma-focused psychotherapy as the first line approach. However, millions of individuals exposed to trauma worldwide seek Complementary and Integrative Health (CIH) therapies in hopes of achieving
wellness above and beyond reducing symptoms. But what is the evidence for CIH interventions? What are potential pitfalls? Given the growing popularity of and strong interest in CIH, EJPT is featuring research on these approaches in this special issue.


The papers range from common interventions such as mindfulness to the use of service dogs and scuba diving to alleviate trauma related symptoms. A featured editorial highlights the importance of defining when, where, and how placebo responses work. Nonspecific elements of treatment such as positive expectations, therapeutic rituals, healing symbols, and social interactions are identified as factors influencing treatment response and scientists looking to add to the CIH evidence base are encouraged to consider the impact and methodological challenges these elements present. CIH interventions more specifically recognize and harness some of these factors in addition to intervention-specific factors such as attention or emotion regulation along with focus on overall wellbeing.


The body of work in this special issue supports the emerging evidence for meditative and relaxation-based interventions and illustrates a creative but nascent state of the field. Cross-intervention mechanisms that may play a role in achieving wellness, such as arousal reduction, emotion regulation, posttraumatic growth, and positive affect are highlighted. The trauma field would benefit from accumulation of evidence for promising CIH interventions, evaluation of potential mechanisms, and examination of health and wellbeing outcomes. With the paucity of high-quality trials, it would be premature to recommend CIH interventions as first-line treatments. However, the emerging literature on CIH continues to advance our understanding of what works and how these interventions exert their effects.


• Complementary and Integrative Health (CIH) interventions for trauma that target holistic wellness above and beyond symptom reduction are increasingly used in the real world, though the evidence base lags. 

• Papers in this issue support the emerging evidence for efficacy of mindfulness or other meditative or relaxation-based interventions. 

• This special issue illustrates creative approaches but also the need for continued research establishing efficacy, evaluating more inclusive outcomes (e.g. a sense of wellbeing or ability to pursue valued life goals), and identifying potential mechanisms

Barbara Niles, Ariel Lang and Miranda Olff | 2023
In: European Journal of Psychotraumatology ; ISSN: 2000-8066 | 14 | 2 | september | 2247888
Alternative Medicine, Animal Assisted Therapy, Interventions, Meditation, Mindfulness Based Therapy, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotherapy, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Quality of Life, Treatment
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