College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

A self-administered, mild form of exposure therapy of older adults.

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Publication Title

Aging and Mental Health

ISSN

1360-7863

Volume

16

Issue/No.

2

Abstract

Despite the effectiveness of exposure therapy to alleviate trauma-related distress, many older adults are unable or unwilling to enter therapy. Mild forms of exposure therapy, such as completing memory questionnaires about a stressful event, have been shown to reduce distress in younger adults. This study attempted to examine the impact of a mild form of exposure therapy in an older adult population. A community-living sample of 263 older adults nominated a stressful event from their lives, and were randomly assigned to either complete questionnaires concerning their memory of the stressful event, or a control task. Results indicated that those who had completed the memory questionnaires about a nominated stressful event evidenced lower levels of distress two weeks later. This effect was stronger for events that were either more recent or had elevated initial levels of distress. These findings suggest an alternative treatment for older adults who have experienced a stressful or traumatic event.

DOI

10.1080/13607863.2011.598848

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