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What is Written Exposure Therapy for PTSD?

Written Exposure Therapy (WET) is a breakthrough evidence-based treatment for PTSD.

Written Exposure Therapy (WET) is a breakthrough evidence-based treatment for PTSD, strongly recommended by Veterans Affairs and the Dept. of Defence (VA/DoD) to treat PTSD. As the treatment comprises just five, 30-minute writing sessions, it is faster, cheaper, and more accessible than all other VA/DoD-recommended PTSD treatments. At the same time, a 2018 clinical trial at the VA showed that WET is equally as effective as the top PTSD treatment, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) in reducing PTSD symptoms.

This combination of delivering users real relief from PTSD while being so easily accessible is why we think WET is a game-changer for trauma treatment. Detrauma’s mobile app puts WET’s five writing exercises into users’ own hands so they can tackle their trauma at home.

Written Exposure Therapy is fast

WET is quite simply five, 30-minute writing sessions. With a little extra set-up time for the first session, the entire process adds up to just three hours. There is no homework between sessions, and no talk therapy involved. Most PTSD therapy methods require twelve 60 to 90 minute sessions. That’s 12 to 18 hours of therapy, plus weekly homework. WET takes a fraction of the hours.

Psychotherapists typically schedule their clients weekly, meaning that twelve PE or CPT sessions would take three months, and WET would take five weeks. More frequent sessions result in substantially greater PTSD symptom reduction. This means that in just five days, clients can achieve real relief from PTSD symptoms with daily writing sessions like Detrauma.

Written Exposure Therapy is affordable

Psychotherapists charge around $200 per hour. Twelve, 90-minute sessions for a recommended treatment like Prolonged Exposure (PE) or CPT can therefore cost $3,600. This price point puts PTSD treatment out of reach for huge numbers of people.

Totaling just three hours of treatment, WET would cost around $600 to complete all sessions with a psychotherapist. That’s just 1/6th of the cost of PE or CPT.

Detrauma has digitized the therapist’s role in WET, rolling the writing instructions, assessments and feedback into a privacy-conscious mobile app. The user can self-administer the entire program. Digitization brings the price down under $10, making trauma relief available to everyone who needs it.

Written Exposure Therapy is accessible

Most PTSD treatments are not only expensive and time-consuming for clients, but also for psychologists. It can take months and significant financial resources for a psychologist to train and get certified in an evidence-based treatment like PE or CPT. So while these methods are highly recommended by the VA/DoD, only a small minority of psychologists use them to treat PTSD. Someone suffering from PTSD may want an evidence-based treatment like PE or CPT, but they may struggle to find someone to provide it to them.

WET overcomes these key barriers of availability, cost and time. Narrative writing treatments can be effectively delivered by laypersons, volunteers, and health care workers like nurses, and over the internet. WET’s instructions and process are easy to follow and use, both for the provider and the client. And WET is non-proprietary, so the writing exercises are even available in Detrauma’s mobile app.

Written Exposure Therapy is easy

WET is easy to follow and to finish, for people with diverse backgrounds, educations and traumas. Crucially, the dropout rate for WET is very low, probably because clients see positive improvements in their symptoms quickly, with so little time and effort invested. In one clinical trial, only 6% of WET participants dropped out of treatment compared to 39% of CPT participants.

Detrauma makes written exposure even easier by putting all five writing exercises into your hands on your mobile phone.

Written Exposure Therapy is effective

Developed and clinically validated by Dr. Denise M. Sloan and Dr. Brian P. Marx, two leading authorities at the National Center for PTSD, WET makes highly effective PTSD treatment accessible to anyone who needs it.

People who complete WET’s five 30-minute writing sessions see long-lasting, clinically significant and substantial reductions in their PTSD symptoms. All 20 WET participants in a 2012 clinical study achieved relief from their PTSD symptoms and reversed their PTSD diagnoses. As the results show below, their relief was long-lasting, persisting through the six-month study period.

Clinical research shows that written exposure reduces PTSD symptoms

Mean CAPS score (a PTSD diagnostic tool) for WET and control group participants at Baseline (pre-treatment), Post-treatment, and 3- and 6-months after Baseline.
WET = Written Exposure Therapy group; WL = Waitlist (control group);
Cutoff = PTSD diagnostic threshold [added by Detrauma].
Source: Written Exposure as an Intervention for PTSD: A Randomized Clinical Trial with Motor Vehicle Accident Survivors, by Sloan, Marx, Bovin, Feinstein & Gallagher (2012).

Tackle PTSD with Detrauma

Detrauma is a new mobile app that puts Written Exposure’s five writing exercises, assessments and feedback into your own hands. Detrauma is your private safe space. It has no ads, no in-app purchases, and no subscription.