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Treatment of Trauma and PTSD 

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Barbara Rothbaum, Ph.D.
Professor in Psychiatry
Director, Trauma & Anxiety Recovery Program
Emory University School of Medicine

Dr. Rothbaum is an internationally recognized expert on the treatment of trauma and PTSD. She is the director of the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program at Emory University School of Medicine, and she is a past president of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). Dr. Rothbaum is a consultant to the Department of Defense (DOD) as well as the Veterans Administration. She has written 4 books on the treatment of trauma and PTSD, has edited two additional books, and has published more than 100 articles in peer-review journals.

Statistics indicate that seventy percent of individuals living in the United States will be exposed to a traumatic event at some point during their lives. Among military personnel, the rates are far higher; moreover, many of these individuals have experienced multiple traumas.

Most trauma victims exhibit fear and other symptoms immediately following the traumatic event, but for most people these symptoms decline over time. Evidence suggests that this reflects the process of extinction. However, when extinction fails to occur to a sufficient degree, the individual's symptoms remain chronic and he or she may develop PTSD. Effective treatment thus involves promoting the extinction process. This is accomplished through exposure therapy.

In the current video, Dr. Rothbaum describes the signs and symptoms of trauma and PTSD and illustrates with clinical examples from both military and civilian (e.g., rape) life. She also describes and provides the rationale for various treatments for PTSD. These include prolonged, imaginal exposure to the patient’s memory of the trauma and in vivo exposure to reminders of the trauma, EMDR, and virtual reality exposure therapy. Dr. Rothbaum presents evidence concerning the relative efficacy of these treatments and teaches viewers how to implement imaginal exposure and in vivo exposure. Pharmacotherapy and the combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy are also addressed. In addition, Dr. Rothbaum conducts an extended, live role play in which she demonstrates the use of prolonged imaginal exposure therapy with a veteran who suffers from combat-related PTSD.


Learning Objectives: After viewing this program, viewers will be able to...

1) describe the rationale for various treatments for trauma and PTSD including prolonged imaginal exposure, in vivo exposure, EMDR, and virtual reality therapy.

2) describe the basic steps involved in implementing these treatments.

3) describe evidence concerning the relative efficacy of these treatments.

This program is appropriate for a broad range of mental health professionals -- including psychologists, social workers, and counselors -- who treat victims of trauma and/or suffer from PTSD.

CE credit: 4 hours

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