Postttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent, debilitating psychiatric disorder.   This study compares how well three different treatments reduce symptoms such as anxiety, avoidance, emotional numbness, mistrust, vivid memories of trauma, and sleep problems for individuals suffering from chronic PTSD.  The three treatments are:

  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy, a well established treatment for mood and eating disorders that focuses on how PTSD affects social interactions with other people;
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy, a validated treatment for PTSD that involves reliving and gaining control over memories of the trauma; and
  • Relaxation Therapy, which involves relaxing the body and coping with the physical symptoms of PTSD.

Participants will be randomly assigned (by computer program) to one of these three types of therapy and will receive individual weekly therapy sessions over a period of 14 weeks. Raters will measure each participant’s progress periodically during the 14 week treatment period. A follow-up assessment will be conducted three months after the final therapy session.   

This study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health allowing us to provide evaluations and therapy at no cost to participants in the Treatment Program


Columbia University/NY State Psychiatric Institute
Principal Investigator
John C. Markowitz, MD
Eligibility Criteria
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) lasting at least 3 months
  • Age Range 18-65
  • Men and Women
Exclusion Criteria
  1. Diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, other psychotic disorders
  2. Primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder; or major depression, melancholic subtype
  3. If patient meets criteria for both PTSD and MDD, absense of prominent criterion B (reexperiencing) and criterion C (numbing/avoidance) symptoms
  4. Psychiatric disorder due to a general medical condition
  5. Current substance abuse or dependence
  6. Acute suicide or homicide risk
  7. Unstable or life-threatening medical condition
  8. Primary diagnosis of borderline or antisocial personality disorder
  9. At least partial benefit from current treatment regimen
  10. Unwillingness to discontinue current ineffective psycho- or pharmacotherapy
  11. Inability to speak or read English
Helena Rosenfeld, 212-543-6747,
New York, NY
Study End Date