Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Amy E. Naugle, Ph.D.
Scott T. Gaynor, Ph.D.
Jessica Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Brooke Smith, Ph.D.
Exposure, journaling, PTSD, telehealth, trauma, WET
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted individuals with mental health issues (Swendsen, 2020). Although the peak destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, the psychological fallout remains. Social isolation, home confinement, and travel restrictions have exacerbated mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to negative psychological distress (Smith et al., 2020). Survivors of trauma have higher vulnerability to prolonged psychological distress than the general population and others with non-trauma-related mental health conditions, which has been exacerbated during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. For these reasons, survivors of trauma may particularly benefit from virtual-delivery of trauma-focused treatments. Mental health providers have adapted to the need for telehealth services, delivering previously in-person evidence-based treatments through video-conferencing platforms. Written Exposure Therapy (WET) is a structured and partly scripted five session weekly mental health treatment designed to treat posttraumatic stress symptoms (Sloan & Marx, 2019). The goal of the current study was to investigate whether WET delivered virtually, through videoconferencing services, is efficacious in the reduction of psychological symptoms in individuals who have experienced a traumatic event. Twenty-six individuals completed a full dose of WET. Mean reductions in the per-protocol sample (n = 26) at five-weeks were 29.5 points on the PCL-5 (CI 25.4, 33.6; Cohen’s d = 2.95), 7.3 points on the PHQ-9 (CI 5.3, 9.3, d = 1.40), and 6.7 points on the ISI (CI 4.6, 8.8, d= 1.20), which were maintained at two-month follow-up. A repeated-measures ANOVA was utilized to estimate treatment effect (η2 p=0.88). All 26 participants ( 100%) experienced clinically meaningful reductions in PTSD symptoms by the end of treatment. These findings suggest that WET, especially when adapted to a telehealth format, seems to be a promising treatment option for individuals with significant posttraumatic stress symptoms, irrespective of trauma type.
Haft, Stephanie M., "Determining the Effectiveness of Virtually-Delivered Written Exposure Therapy for Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms" (2022). Dissertations. 3889.