CDP, together with National Center for PTSD, recently completed the first of three training events in Prolonged Exposure (PE) with community providers who treat Veterans with PTSD as part of a pilot project funded by the National Center for PTSD. We interviewed Dr. Sonya Norman, director of the VA’s PTSD Consultation Program and Mr. Todd McKee, program manager, who are leading this project.
Q: What was the impetus behind the PTSD Consultation Program taking on training community providers in PE? Can you say something about what gap or need exists and how this training program helps to meet this need?
A: In the PTSD Consultation Program, we consult with mental health and other providers all over the country who treat Veterans with PTSD. We noticed that many of the providers who treat Veterans in the community were very interested in learning evidence-based, effective treatments for PTSD, but often did not have access to affordable training. Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE) is one of the most effective treatments we have for PTSD, but training and consultation can be very expensive. Our mission is to make sure that Veterans can access best practice PTSD treatment wherever they choose to get their care. We realized that offering PE training and consultation at no cost to providers who treat Veterans in the community would help fill a critical gap.
Q: What would you want providers to know about this training opportunity?
A: A quick internet search shows that there are lots of promised “cures” for PTSD. In fact, many of these treatments have not been studied, are ineffective, and some may even do more harm than good. PE has been studied in over 20 trials and we have seen that it helps even the most complicated patients recover from PTSD, including those with comorbidities like substance use disorders. It has the strongest recommendation from every clinical practice guideline for treating PTSD, including those from the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia. We are very excited to make training in PE available to providers who treat Veterans in the community and in places where it may not otherwise be available.
Q: This is a collaborative effort between the National Center for PTSD, CDP, and Emory University. Can you say more about the roles each organization will play?
A: We are thrilled to have engaged CDP and the Emory University School of Medicine to work on this project with us. We really could not have stronger collaborators. The National Center for PTSD is funding the training and our consultants are co-leading the three-day trainings with colleagues from CDP. CDP is handling logistics and we are using the training program they developed. Through their PE Consultant Training Program, Emory has a team of senior PE clinicians who are providing consultation on the first two PE cases our trainees see, a critical piece to becoming competent in delivering PE.
Q: Who should attend these trainings?
A: Any licensed mental health provider who does psychotherapy with Veterans with PTSD outside of the VA.
Q: What are the end goals of the project?
A: We want to help Veterans recover from PTSD and not have PTSD stand in the way of living the life they want to live. We want to help therapists have the tools to help Veterans achieve this goal.
Q: How can providers find out more about attending an upcoming VA-PE training?
A: Licensed mental health providers from any discipline can learn more and apply for upcoming trainings on the National Center for PTSD website at Training in Prolonged Exposure.
Q: Any other resources you would like folks to know about?
A: Yes, the National Center for PTSD has a number of resources to help providers educate patients and their loved ones about evidence-based treatments for PTSD including Prolonged Exposure.
Our team of expert clinicians in the PTSD Consultation Program is also available to support all healthcare providers treating Veterans. No question is too big or too small. We can be reached at PTSDconsult@va.gov or 866-948-7880.
Thank you so much, Dr. Norman and Mr. McKee for this fantastic summary of the project.
So, for any providers out there who are considering adding PE to your toolbelt… don’t miss out on this wonderful training opportunity. Comments from our first joint training in Vermont included:
“This was one of the best and most professionally useful trainings I've attended over the course of 31 years as a clinician.”
“Excellent presenters and information. Really superb training! The material feels incredibly relevant to my work and I am really excited to use it.”
“Thorough, informative, presented by experts who believe in PE to help the students take the training back to their practice and help those struggling with PTSD.”
“I have left this training with concrete skills and research data that proves it is an effective treatment for PTSD.”
Hope to see you in Oklahoma or Montana!
Sonya Norman, PhD is director of the PTSD Consultation Program at the VA’s National Center for PTSD and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Todd McKee, MDiv, is program manager of the PTSD Consultation Program.
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.
Jenna Ermold, Ph.D., is assistant director of training and education at the Center for Deployment Psychology.