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Small-scale randomised control trial of PTSD treatment given go-ahead

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded funds of £318,114 to King’s College London (King’s), to undertake a small-scale randomised control trial of a treatment for ex-Service personnel with PTSD.

Researchers on the 28-month study will recruit and support 60 ex-Service personnel in Northern Ireland in a comparative evaluation study of Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM), against an existing Gold Standard Treatment, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (TF-CBT).

RTM is a non-trauma focused therapy developed in the US based on Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), which seeks to understand verbal and non-verbal language patterns and intentionally changes them to enable someone to think and/or feel differently about something that had previously distressed them.

Evidence from US veteran studies report low dropout rates, with most participants PTSD symptom free at 6-week follow-up; the treatment also appears to be quick to administer and to demonstrate results and is well tolerated.

NLP is widespread in UK veteran charities; however, the lack of regulation has led to concerns by various bodies (including Devolved Governments, NHS veteran services, key charities) about the potential of the therapy to cause harm, to deter future help-seeking, or to be complex and costly to administer at scale.

The overall aim of this pilot project is to establish whether it is feasible to undertake at a later date a much larger UK-wide study to determine whether RTM provides a quick, well tolerated and effective treatment, and is no less effective in terms of the rehabilitative outcomes when compared to the existing Gold Standard Treatment, TF-CBT. This is the first important stage in a scientifically rigorous approach to evaluating and understanding whether RTM holds the potential for healing that it promises.   

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “At FiMT we have adopted a programmatic approach to the work that we are funding to achieve more impact and influence with the recommendations produced from research reports.

“This untested treatment being trialled by King’s sits within our health and wellbeing programme and has the opportunity to be ground-breaking and life changing to ex-Service personnel with PTSD. The study could also have profound implications for trauma-focussed therapy in wider society.”

Jackie Sturt, Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Nursing, said: “Mental health interventions underpinned by NLP are being delivered across the UK, to many populations. This pilot trial begins an essential programme of work to establish whether NLP holds promise when held up to the scientific microscope of a well-designed randomised controlled trial. We are very excited to be undertaking this much needed work”.

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