Professional Development Resources, a nationally accredited provider of continuing education (CE) for psychologists, social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and occupational therapists, has announced the release of a series of specialized continuing education courses addressing the diagnosis and treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in client populations of military service personnel.
Professional Development Resources has released five new online continuing education courses intended to give psychologists, social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and occupational therapists the tools they need to assist individuals who are suffering from the sometimes debilitating symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The new curriculum deals with essential definitions and illustrations of the disorder, as well as treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), pharmacotherapy, group therapy, and family treatment. There are also special topics detailing the complexities of PTSD and substance use disorders and the vicarious traumatization often experienced by helping professionals.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled.
The National Center for PTSD identifies the symptoms as follows: “PTSD is characterized by a specific group of symptoms that sets it apart from other types of reactions to trauma. Increasingly, evidence points to four major types of symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance, numbing, and arousal.” Re-experiencing symptoms involve a sort of mental replay of the trauma, often accompanied by strong emotional reactions. This can happen in reaction to thoughts or reminders of the experience when the person is awake or in the form of nightmares during sleep. To qualify for a formal diagnosis, the symptoms must persist for over one month, cause significant distress, and affect the individual’s ability to function socially, occupationally, or domestically.
“Veterans are returning every day with both visible and invisible injuries. Some of the most prevalent mental health conditions are marital distress, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse,” says Leo Christie, PhD, CEO of Professional Development Resources. “With increasing numbers of returning service personnel and their families presenting with acute PTSD, health professionals today are highly likely to encounter individuals seeking help with the distressing and sometimes debilitating symptoms of this disorder. It is impossible to overstate the personal suffering and disruption experienced by veterans and their families. If the returning veteran has PTSD, every family member is feeling the effects. It is important for us as helping professionals to have the most up-to-date knowledge and tools to offer the specialized help they need. We all need this information.”
Professional Development Resources based its new curriculum on a series of recent lectures presented by experts at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD. Diagnostic and treatment protocols detailed in the five new online courses were developed using evidence-based procedures gleaned from the most recent professional literature in the field of trauma. Researchers have tested, analyzed, and reported each of the procedures described in the courses. This assures that only treatments that have been clinically demonstrated to be effective are included.
Needs assessments performed by Professional Development Resources have emphasized the need for training in this area. One psychologist wrote: “I really need this information. In the past year, the number of clients with PTSD in my practice has at least doubled. The complex combination of PTSD and substance use disorders has been the most challenging aspect of treatment for me. Specialized training is definitely in order.”
The new courses – all of which are available instantly online and can be completed any time and anywhere – include: