Assessment and Treatment of PTSD


This workshop reviews methods of assessment and treatment of PTSD recommended by the VA/DoD Guideline for the Management of PTSD (2017). DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder are reviewed. Types of PTSD assessments are discussed, including appropriate assessment instruments for the intended purpose (e.g., screening, tracking, diagnosis).  Commonly used PTSD assessment instruments are described.  Unique variables that can impact the assessment process with this population are identified. Participants will be introduced to best practices for diagnosing deployment-related PTSD. Evidence-based treatments for PTSD are reviewed so participants become familiar with effective interventions for military-related trauma.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Communicate three types of PTSD assessment and the goals of each.
  2. Choose appropriate assessment tools for each of the three types of PTSD assessment with a military population. 
  3. Critique evidence-based treatments for PTSD in a military population.


  1. Assessment of PTSD

    1. Definition of Trauma/Criterion A
    2. Review of common types of trauma experienced by Service members
    3. DSM-5 criteria for PTSD
    4. Prevalence of PTSD in Service members and Veteran populations
    5. Types of PTSD assessment
      1. Screening
      2. Differential diagnosis
      3. Outcomes assessment
    6. PTSD Screening
      1. VA/DoD Guideline Recommendations for screening
      2. Definition of screening
      3. PTSD Checklist-5 (PCL-5)
    7. Differential diagnoses
      1. VA/DoD Guideline Recommendations for differential diagnosis
      2. Multimethod approach
      3. Diagnostic instruments

      1. Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5)

      2. Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5)

  1. Comorbid conditions
  2. Outcomes assessment
    1. VA/DoD Guideline Recommendations for outcomes assessment
    2. Using the PCL-5 to track outcomes
  3. Additional considerations for PTSD evaluations with Service members/Veterans
    1. Stigma and under-reporting
    2. Over-reporting and malingering
    3. Other clinician and patient variables

II.Evidence-Based Treatments and Strategies for PTSD

  1. VA/DoD Guideline Recommendations for management of PTSD symptoms
  1. Individual trauma-focused therapy has highest recommendation
  2. Medications are considered second-line treatments for PTSD
    1. Examples of trauma-focused psychotherapy

      1. Prolonged exposure therapy
      2. Cognitive processing therapy              
  3. Review of supplemental materials/resources
    1. PE Coach
    2. CPT Coach
    3. Supplemental apps