A Mother’s Pain: Vicarious Traumatic Stress After Race-Related Violence
Have you ever wondered how people are impacted by the mass publicization of race-related violence? Our study found that one particular group may be at risk for vicarious trauma, while another may experience a decrease in trauma symptoms. Learn more in our blog.
A new perspective on the brain basis of PTSD in Veterans involves alterations in both fear and anxiety networks
PTSD is a common and disabling disorder that impacts many Veterans. This blog discusses our new study examining how Veterans with PTSD respond to threat in fear and anxiety brain networks. The study findings extend the current understanding of the brain basis of PTSD to include both fear and anxiety networks and highlight new treatment targets.
Climate change and media messaging: What is a non-scary way of raising awareness about the end of civilization?
In early September, following a record summer of global warming, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Gutierrez, declared in a speech that the “climate breakdown had begun” and urged global leaders to adopt radical solutions to, “avoid the worst of climate chaos.” This warning comes as no surprise to those who carefully monitor the news on climate change, but to others, such information can be fear- and anxiety-inducing.
Clinician's Corner: Behavioral health in the fire service
Communities around the globe depend on firefighters. We rely on them for safety, crisis and medical intervention, and our general well-being. Firefighters are regularly exposed to critical and emergency situations (e.g., fires, natural disasters, crime scenes, medical emergencies), and thus represent a unique and resilient population faced with chronic stress and intense physical demands (Bowers et al., 2020). Firefighters operate in contexts of often chronic occupational stress, including sleep disturbance, and significant physical as well as emotional demands. Yet, research on firefighter behavioral health is in relatively early stages of development. Fire service agencies are just beginning to understand the implications of their work on the behavioral health of firefighters and their families (e.g., Zegel et al., in press).
Clinician's Corner: Meeting the challenges of organizational stress: Biocratic organizations and creating presence
In 2022, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report about workplace mental health and wellbeing. Many of you will not be surprised to learn that in a survey of 1,500 U.S. adult workers across for profit, non-profit and government sectors, 76% of respondents reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition, and 84% reported at least one workplace factor that had a negative impact on their mental health (Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2022). This means that in every mental health, healthcare and social service setting, clinicians must deal with the effects of workplace stress on their clients, while they are also trying to manage similar problems themselves. Not surprisingly, the report cites research suggesting there are five workplace attributes most predictive of whether workers refer to their organization’s culture as “toxic”: disrespect, non inclusivity, and unethical, cutthroat or abusive behavior (Sull et al., 2022).
Developmental Traumatology: On holding and being held: Therapists, traumatized youth and the pandemic
Many children who have suffered traumas early in their lives have also experienced profound losses of relationships. They may have lost or been separated from family members, experienced war and displacement, and/or lived in multiple placements. Because children with developmental trauma can show difficulties with cognition, emotional regulation and behavioral control (Spinnzola et al., 2021), they often cannot articulate their struggles, instead demonstrating them through behavioral responses. When children with histories of developmental trauma and loss enter treatment, the therapist must create an environment that offers protection and containment so that the child feels safe enough and can regulate sufficiently to explore thoughts, feelings and memories. Creating that therapeutic space is not always easy.
Student perspectives: Recent advances in short-term, evidence-based PTSD treatments
The gold-standard evidence-based treatments for PTSD (Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy) and other emerging treatments (i.e., EMDR, ACT for PTSD) are typically implemented in 60 to 90 minute sessions for approximately 12 sessions. These treatments are considered highly effective, and it is often recognized that dropout rates (as well as wait-lists for these services) are high. That said, advances in short-term, evidence-based PTSD treatments are helping to combat some of the potential barriers those with PTSD face in accessing and completing treatment. Specifically, this article highlights two brief PTSD treatments implemented in primary care settings: written exposure therapy, and prolonged exposure for primary care. While the traditional model of outpatient trauma treatment may be feasible for some, expanding the types of settings and treatments, without compromising on efficacy, helps make PTSD treatment more widely accessible.