I N T E G R A T I V E   T E S T I M O N I A L   T H E R A P Y

Evaluation of an internet-based cognitive-behavioral writing therapy for the treatment of traumatized children of World War II

This study is aimed at persons over 65 years of age who were traumatized as children during or immediately following World War II and are currently suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) according to the ICD-10.

Background

In recent years it has been possible to identify a number of different groups of individuals who were traumatized in World War II, and without trivializing the crimes committed by the German armed forces, those children of war are now an important group to consider in the field of trauma therapy.

Recent studies on the effects of war-related trauma in older persons have shown relationships between world war-related trauma, symptoms of PTSD and physical health.

Writing Therapy

This therapeutic approach combines the successfully evaluated cognitive-behavioral therapy applied for PTSD with general geropsychological interventions. As well as narrative exposition and cognitive restructuring, the focus is on biographical history of the individual. During writing therapy a coherent life story is written down in a way that allows for the integration of the traumatic experiences into this biography of older persons.

The specially designed treatment manual for older persons who have been traumatized by war involves 11 writing sessions of 45 minutes each, every session is based on one of the 3 components mentioned above (trauma exposition, biography and cognitive restructuring). Communication between therapist and patient takes place exclusively via Email. This is advantageous for older persons due to the easy access provided by the internet and the visual anonymity in communication. Over 5.1 million internet users in Germany are over the age of 65 – so-called “silver surfers”. Therefore, the internet is an attractive communication tool for this age group.

Within the framework of a controlled randomized intervention study, the efficacy of an internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy for older civilian traumatized survivors of World War II will be assessed. First preliminary results show a significant decrease of PTSD symptoms after the treatment as well as an increase in self-efficacy and posttraumatic growth.

Co-operation Partners

Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald
Free University Berlin 
Technical University Dresden

Contact

Dr. Maria Böttche
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030-303 906-32