About Written Exposure Therapy (WET) Overcoming Barriers to Beating PTSD

Stuck on a waiting list for therapy? Try this while you wait.

After trauma strikes, survivors often hear, “go get therapy!” But when they try, they’re put on a waiting list for weeks, months or even years. What can you do if you’re stuck on a long waiting list for trauma therapy, and can’t afford private PTSD treatments?

We developed Detrauma to make a highly-effective trauma therapy accessible to everyone who needs it. The five, 30-minute writing sessions help you tackle the traumatic memories that may be the root-cause of your distress.

Clinical studies show that Detrauma’s writing exercises relieve PTSD symptoms and are just as effective as face-to-face trauma-focused therapy. It’s affordable, private, and you can finish it in five days or five weeks. It won’t jeopardize your position on the therapy waiting list, and you can even bring your writing to your first therapy session to give your treatment a flying start. In the meantime, you can start healing and enjoying life again.

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Tried Detrauma? Let us know how we’re doing here:

About Detrauma About Trauma and PTSD

Trauma relief for 1 billion survivors

One billion people worldwide (12.9% of the population) suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the WHO’s global mental health survey. The leading causes are intimate partner or sexual violence (28%) and unexpected death of a loved one (22%). Symptoms last, on average, six years, but for many they persist for decades. While median recovery time is 6 years, many never recover. Around a third of physical, intimate partner and sexual violence victims still endure PTSD symptoms 20 years after the trauma.

Only a quarter of PTSD sufferers get therapy

Post-traumatic stress causes debilitating symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks, which can shatter sufferers’ careers, family lives and physical health. Still, barriers to treatment, including cost and social stigma are so overwhelming that only a quarter of sufferers receive therapy. A dramatic shortage of trained therapists has led to wait lists of months or years at rape-crisis centers, refugee services and veterans clinics around the world.

A radically affordable digital solution

Detrauma is a radically affordable writing therapy, whose vision is to put relief into the hands of 1 billion survivors of trauma. Detrauma is based on Written Exposure Therapy, an evidence-based trauma treatment developed and clinically validated by researchers at the National Center for PTSD. It was designed to overcome the obstacles that prevent people from receiving effective trauma treatment. Users write about their trauma in five, 30-minute guided writing exercises, which are clinically proven to dramatically relieve symptoms of PTSD. Because the therapy is based on writing, rather than talking, it can easily be delivered via mobile phone, privately, at home. 

Rock-solid privacy and confidentiality

Social stigma, distrust of health services, and concerns about privacy and confidentiality are key barriers that prevent victims of trauma from seeking help. Detrauma’s privacy credentials are rock solid, because we don’t collect any data from our users. Detrauma doesn’t ask for a name, email, phone number, payment details, login, or any other personal information. All usage data is stored on the user’s own phone, and is not sent back to Detrauma. Users complete each writing exercise with a pen and paper. Afterward, they can even shred or burn the paper to avoid anyone ever reading it!

No fancy phone or internet required

To make trauma relief available to one billion survivors, we designed Detrauma to be used in lower resource environments. Detrauma is a light mobile app, which even works on older Android phones with limited memory or functionality. After download, it needs no internet access or data. It even works with shared mobile phones, as the writing exercises are done on paper, not on the device.

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About Detrauma

What is Detrauma for PTSD?

Detrauma is a mobile app designed to help you tackle the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The app guides you through three key steps: measuring your symptoms, completing five, 30-minute writing exercises, and tracking your progress. Detrauma is based on Written Exposure Therapy, an evidence-based treatment developed by researchers at the National Center for PTSD.

1. Measure your PTSD symptoms

The Detrauma app starts with a PTSD symptom quiz, so you can see how much your symptoms improve after each of the five writing exercises.

Detrauma’s Quiz measures the severity of your current post-traumatic stress symptoms. The Quiz asks 20 questions about the level of distress you’ve experienced recently, related to a single traumatic event in your past.

The Quiz is based on the PCL-5 (PTSD Checklist-5), a self-report questionnaire developed by PTSD researchers to measure symptoms of PTSD. Clinicians and professionals use the PCL-5 to screen individuals for PTSD and to monitor symptom change throughout treatment. While a PTSD diagnosis can only be made by a professional, the Quiz can help you track your own symptoms and progress.

2. Write about your trauma for 30 minutes

In each session, Detrauma will guide you through a 30-minute writing exercise, which you will do with pen and paper in a quiet space without distractions. In each exercise, you will recall a single traumatic memory and write about it, in detail. Grammar and spelling aren’t important.

The writing exercises are based upon Written Exposure Therapy, which was developed by scientists at the National Center for PTSD as a trauma-focused alternative to talk therapy. Clinical research shows that WET is as effective in treating PTSD as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), a ‘gold standard’ trauma therapy.

3. Track your progress

Following each of Detrauma’s five writing sessions, you will receive a personalized report to track your progress. The dashboard’s graphs and charts show you how your symptoms have improved since you started your Detrauma journey. We’ll give you customized tips to improve the effectiveness of each writing exercises to maximize your symptom relief.

You can decide to complete the five writing exercises in five days or five weeks. The important thing is to commit to a regular daily or weekly writing time in your schedule and follow through. Research shows that most people who fully engage in the writing sessions see their PTSD symptoms decrease significantly. Many WET participants no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD after just five writing sessions.

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About Detrauma

About Us

Detrauma is a mental health app designed to deliver trauma (PTSD) treatment to people without access to a therapist. Worldwide 1 billion survivors suffer from PTSD.

We help trauma survivors get off waitlists and offer instant access to therapy. People in remote locations and those with limited health insurance and financial resources also use Detrauma.

We serve end-users who have experienced trauma and want treatment and intermediaries such as rape crisis centers, refugee services, health clinics, and domestic violence hotlines.

The Detrauma app makes evidence-based trauma therapy accessible and affordable to everyone who needs it. Detrauma’s writing exercises can be completed at home in just a week. Unlike traditional therapy, Detrauma is affordable, private, and fast. The writing exercises are based on Written Exposure Therapy, which is as effective as trauma-focused talk therapy, and is recommended by the National Center for PTSD.


Jessica Mello is strategy consultant turned co-founder who solves old problems with new technology. She built Detrauma at her kitchen table during the Covid-19 lockdown, inspired by people’s urgent need for private, effective, home-based trauma treatment.

Jessica helped lead the renaissance of Bermuda’s tourism industry, co-founding the Bermuda Tourism Authority in 2013. She previously worked at Deloitte Consulting and AECOM, holds an MBA from London Business School, and lives between Berlin and Bermuda.

Philipp Schmidt is Chairman of Detrauma and an investor.

He is the owner of an investment advisory firm focused on the language learning sector.

He previously worked at Babbel, Sony Pictures and Warner Media and holds an MBA from London Business School.

About Detrauma About Written Exposure Therapy (WET)

What is Written Exposure Therapy 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 collects zero data from users, so it’s 100% private. It has no ads, no in-app purchases, and no subscription. 

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Overcoming Barriers to Beating PTSD

How can I tackle PTSD on a tight budget?

Good trauma therapy can be transformational and liberating. Unfortunately, the high cost and a lack of insurance coverage put it out of reach for many.

Here are some alternatives to consider, depending on your budget.

$1,200 – Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) 

Trauma therapy can cost $200 per session, and with recommended programs like Prolonged Exposure lasting twelve sessions, a course of therapy can cost thousands of dollars. Check your health insurance to see if you have coverage for psychotherapy like PE.

$20 per session – Yoga

The effects of trauma are felt in both the mind and the body, and yoga is recommended by top trauma expert, Bessel van der Kolk, to reduce these effects. If a $20 yoga class isn’t affordable or accessible, then look for free yoga classes on YouTube. Stick to a weekly yoga practice to really experience the positive results. 

$200 – Weighted Blanket

Can’t sleep? A weighted blanket can give your body a feeling of safety and calm, like a big hug. It can reduce the feeling of stress and anxiety at bedtime, common with PTSD, which can help you sleep better. 

$5.99 – Detrauma writing exercises 

Writing exercises can help you process traumatic memories and reduce symptoms of PTSD. You tackle one distressing traumatic memory during five, 30-minute writing sessions with Detrauma. Clinical research shows that Written Exposure is as effective as talk therapy for treating PTSD.

Are you tackling PTSD on a budget? Register for Detrauma now.

Overcoming Barriers to Beating PTSD

6 reasons people can’t get therapy for PTSD

While more than half of Americans live through a traumatic event in their lifetimes, many don’t get help afterward. Why? Good trauma therapy can be difficult to access, even for those who want and need help.

Researchers at the University of Vienna have compiled a list of the top reasons people either can’t access mental health treatment after trauma:

  1. It’s too expensive
  2. They don’t have time for therapy
  3. They don’t know where or how to get help
  4. Therapy isn’t covered by their health insurance
  5. Barriers like language prevent them accessing therapy
  6. Their family or friends don’t support getting  therapy

How can you tackle post traumatic stress if you can’t get access to therapy? Written Exposure is a clinically proven alternative to talk therapy to address PTSD. You write in a private place, in your own language, and you can even burn your paper once you’re done. Research shows that these writing exercises are equally or more effective than face-to-face psychotherapy to tackle the symptoms of post traumatic stress. With Detrauma, you’ll get all five 30-minute writing sessions for just 5 bucks. 

Can’t access therapy for trauma or PTSD? Try Detrauma instead.

Overcoming Barriers to Beating PTSD

PTSD therapy: 10 reasons people avoid it

While more than half of Americans live through a traumatic event in their lifetimes, many avoid PTSD therapy afterward. Are they just being stubborn or is it not right for everyone? 

Researchers at the University of Vienna have compiled a list of the top reasons people avoid getting mental health treatment after trauma:

  1. They want to solve their own problems
  2. They don’t believe in psychotherapy 
  3. People might think they’re weak 
  4. They don’t want to talk to a stranger about their feelings
  5. They don’t want others to know about their problems
  6. Talking about trauma is scary
  7. Therapy could damage their career
  8. They’ve had bad experiences with counselling before
  9. Their family or culture doesn’t encourage therapy
  10. They don’t trust the mental health system

Written Exposure as an Alternative PTSD Therapy

How can you tackle post traumatic stress if you don’t want to talk to a therapist? Written Exposure Therapy is a clinically proven alternative to address trauma. You write in a private place, in your own language, and you can even burn your paper after you’re done. Research shows that these writing exercises are equally or more effective than face-to-face psychotherapy to tackle the symptoms of post traumatic stress. With Detrauma, you’ll get all five 30-minute writing sessions for 5 dollars, without therapy. 

See also: 6 reasons people can’t get therapy for PTSD.

Not interested in talk therapy for trauma or PTSD? Try Detrauma instead.

About Trauma and PTSD

Will my PTSD ever go away?

A traumatic memory can be like an unwanted spam email that keeps clogging your inbox and getting in the way of your real life and work. You delete it, archive it, move it, mark it as spam, unsubscribe, but it just keeps popping up. When you try to open a different email, that means an old spam email pops up instead.  How can you get rid of it?

About Written Exposure Therapy (WET) Overcoming Barriers to Beating PTSD

Why writing is a great tool to deal with traumatic memories

Writing is ideal for introverts.

Alone in a quiet space, an introvert can think clearly and focus on the task at hand. There are no distractions and no other people to interrupt your flow of thought. 

Writing is cheap.

Pencils and paper are cheap. With structured writing exercises like DeTrauma, you can tackle the distress of traumatic memories for just five bucks.