Faculty Articles

Treatment of Reactivated PTSD: Imaginal Exposure in an Older Adult with Multiple Traumas

Stephen A. Russo, Nova Southeastern University
Michel Hersen, Nova Southeastern University
Vincent B. Van Hasselt, Nova Southeastern University


A single-case analysis was used to assess the effects of imaginal exposure in a 57-year-old woman suffering from current and reactivated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a transient ischemic attack. The client’s responses to self-reported depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms were repeatedly recorded during four phases: (a) initial psychotherapy, (b) imaginal exposure, (c) skill generalization, and (d) fading of treatment. In addition to dramatic reduction in levels of depression and anxiety, results showed a significant improvement in PTSD symptoms relating to recent and remote traumatic experiences. Improvements were maintained approximately 16 months after imaginal exposure ended, despite ongoing external stressors.