Co-written by Lauren Messina, Ph.D., LCMFT
Active duty psychologists typically learn early in their careers about the importance of helping Service members optimize both their performance and resilience in addition to treating mental health symptoms and disorders in a clinical setting. Human performance optimization (HPO) offers a shift in the way behavioral health professionals evaluate and treat Service members to include elements of performance and not just alleviating pathology symptoms. HPO also lends itself to being more culturally sensitive to issues that are relevant to individuals who are military connected.
The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP), one of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) Centers, was established in 2006 with the primary goal of training behavioral health professionals in military culture and deployment-related behavioral health to help them better serve our nation’s Service members, Veterans, and their families. CDP’s mission is to lead the development of a community of culturally mindful and clinically competent providers through the delivery of high-quality training and education, the convening of experts, and the dissemination of research-based treatment and the latest topics in military behavioral health.
As the needs of our military personnel have changed, CDP has evolved to meet those needs with one focus being collaborating with other organizations to expand our training and education efforts. Over the past few years CDP has been working closely with several USUHS Centers that have similar missions.
One USUHS Center that CDP has joined forces with is the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP). Led by Dr. Patricia Deuster, CHAMP’s mission is to optimize warfighter mission performance and family readiness through leadership, community engagement, education, and conducting and translating human performance research. Through translational research and the development of evidence-based educational resources on HPO, CHAMP seeks to improve the performance and resilience of Service members and their families.
CHAMP’s research and education efforts span the domains of Total Force Fitness (TFF) to include physical, psychological, social, nutritional, spiritual, environmental, and medical/dental health and performance. CHAMP’s work looks at unique elements within these domains as well as how optimizing performance across all of them can help a Service member excel. The CHAMP team provides resources in these domains that target Service members and providers.
CHAMP also runs an educational website called Human Performance Resources by CHAMP that houses a variety of military-specific evidence-based information on TFF, physical fitness, nutrition, family & relationships, and mental fitness. Behavioral healthcare providers looking to integrate performance concepts into their work with military patients will find resources on HPRC-online.org that will complement their work, such as articles, worksheets, video and audio files.
For example, information on HPRC-online.org can help your patients gain a better understanding of their signature strengths and the ABC’s of optimal performance - or how beliefs about a performance situation can influence the consequences you experience. Talk with patients about the power of positive emotions, how to avoid common thinking traps, and strategies for navigating around three sneaky relationships-damaging habits. All material on HPRC-onlne.org is written by CHAMP subject matter experts and grounded in research. There’s also an “Ask the Expert” feature, where clinicians or patients can submit their performance-based questions and get a response within a few business days, complete with references.
One of CDP’s efforts to collaborate with CHAMP is by sharing CHAMP’s efforts/resources with our provider community. On Wednesday, 21 August from 1200-1330 EST, Dr. Travis Lunasco will be presenting on Human Performance Optimization (HPO): A Paradigm Shift to Improve Mental Health Care of Service Members during our CDP Presents webinar series. Dr. Lunasco is the Director of the Human Performance Optimization (HPO) Future Operations and Senior Human Performance Optimization Integrator (HPO-I) at CHAMP and is also a military Veteran who served over 28 years both as a Marine and Airman. This is a great opportunity to learn more about human performance optimization and Total Force Fitness. Additionally, you will take away a better understanding of CHAMP and the resources they have to offer. Check out HPRC-online.org and join us on 21 August for Dr. Lunacos’s presentation!
The opinions in CDP Staff Perspective blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science or the Department of Defense.
Lisa French, Psy.D., is the Chief of Staff at the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
Lauren Messina, Ph.D., LCMFT, is the Director of Human Performance and Optimization Education and Training in support of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.