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The Psychotherapy Curriculum

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Become familiar with the history and complexities of this controversial condition, a range of PTSD treatment approaches, and when to apply them for the best results.

Program Description

PTSD is one of the very few psychiatric disorders that comes under attack in almost every way. Every assumption and theoretical underpinning is up for grabs. Nothing about the diagnosis and its treatment has gone unchallenged. In fact, the controversy extends to a debate about our whole Western culture, a culture that tends to make every wrong a legal issue, open to lawsuits and turns “the human condition” into medical entities. Meanwhile, our soldiers are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan broken in body and suffering in spirit. The stigma associated with mental illness is a factor that often keeps them from getting the help they need. We are only beginning to understand the complexities of post-traumatic reactions.

Learning Objectives

This program provides clinicians with the opportunity to:

Be able to utilize the DSM IV-TR criteria and distinguishing symptoms to differentiate between Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD.

Recognize the importance of stabilization in trauma processing.

Become familiar with a range of PTSD treatment approaches and when to apply them for the best results.

Understand the underlying neurobiological effects of Acute and PTSD.

Be able to compare psychological, behavioral, and medical approaches to treatment.

Become familiar with the controversies about PTSD, its validity as a diagnostic entity, and the effectiveness of a variety of treatment approaches.

Understand the roles of different pharmacotherapies in the treatment of PTSD

Understand how Kleinian psychoanalytic principles can help a therapist engage the survivors of extreme trauma.

Learn about resilience and post-traumatic growth, as well as how to develop them.


Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment - Steven Taylor, Ph.D.

Trauma outcome studies have consistently found the most effective PTSD treatments to be cognitive and exposure-based therapies that focus on emotional processing of the trauma material. According to Dr. Steven Taylor, a number of cognitive and behaviors distinguish people with PTSD. In this interview, Dr. Taylor discusses how and why CBT works.

Differential Diagnosis - Hugh F. Johnston, MD

The criteria for a PTSD-inducing stressor has become so broad that virtually any event can now qualify, as long as someone perceived it as traumatic. In this interview, we look at some of these diagnostic issues as described in the DSM IV TR, including the difference between acute stress disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Engaging Survivors of Extreme Violence - Martha Bragin, Ph.D., LCSW

Engaging survivors of extreme violence in treatment requires the therapist’s ability to understand and tolerate the awareness of terrible, unacceptable events in the world and themselves. Dr. Martha Bragin has spent her professional career working with survivors of extreme violence. For her, the work of Melanie Klein, a post-Freudian psychoanalyst, provides a springboard for understanding and connecting to these survivors, who feel isolated by their experiences. She discusses her work in this interview.

Malingering - Gerald Rosen, Ph.D.

Malingering is a medical and psychological term that refers to an individual fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders for a variety of motives, including getting financial compensation (often tied to fraud), avoiding work, obtaining drugs, getting lighter criminal sentences, trying to get out of going to school, or simply to attract attention or sympathy. At the present time, there are no clear methodologies that allow researchers and clinicians to fulfill the guideline of the DSM IV and rule out malingering. The shame of this is that malingering in PTSD casts doubt on everyone who is actually suffering. In this interview, we look at the impact of malingering and how to assess it.

Post-traumatic Growth - William O'Hanlon, M.S., LMFT website

Bill O’Hanlon presents alternative perspectives on the development of trauma-related disorders, as well as powerful new methods for their successful resolution. His approach incorporates a treatment philosophy and methodology of hope for the future. Clients are left with a feeling of freedom and a sense of renewed possibilities, which are sometimes missing from more traditional approaches.

Resilience - Froma Walsh, Ph.D., MSW

Dr. Froma Walsh has developed core principles and values for a family and community resilience-oriented approach to recovery from traumatic loss when catastrophic events occur. In contrast to individually based, symptom-focused approaches to trauma recovery, this multi-systemic practice approach contextualizes the distress in the traumatic experience and taps strengths and resources in relational networks to foster healing and post-traumatic growth.

The Body Remembers - Babette Rothschild, LCSW

The goal of Babette Rothschild is “to inspire psychotherapists working with traumatized individuals to learn as much as possible about theory, tools and treatment so that they can be well-equipped in working with the unpredictability of trauma and the diverse needs of clients.” In her books and in this interview, she encourages therapists to learn to trust and use their own common sense, often in lieu of what they have been taught. She states, “When therapy methods are applied uniformly like a recipe, their potential for harm increases, no matter how good they are.”

The Brain, Trauma, and Medication - Anthony D'Agostino, M.D.

PTSD is characterized by symptoms that reflect some form of persistent re-experiencing of the original traumatic event. Research has repeatedly shown many individuals with PTSD produce significantly larger psychophysiologic responses upon exposure to trauma-related cues compared to individuals without the disorder. Moreover, trauma has been found to make the brain’s emotional processing centers (particularly the amygdalae) more sensitive in cases of PTSD. In this interview, a practicing psychiatrist discusses the uses neurological findings and medication to treat adults and children with PTSD.

The Culture of PTSD - James Herbert, Ph.D.

The understanding and treatment of post-traumatic stress has changed over the years, especially between the two World Wars, the Vietnam conflict, and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Herbert reviews and explains these views.

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Client Testimonials

“Interviews were clear, concise, to the point – an enjoyable way to learn.”

... Joe F.

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