Therapies — 28 June 2012

Australian mental health clinicians need specialised training to combat a lack of understanding and appropriate services for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, says a leading psychological trauma expert.

“We have a shortage of properly trained and experienced clinicians to deal with the effects of trauma,” Professor Mark Creamer from the University of Melbourne told Psychiatry Update.

A key note speaker at this week’s APS Clinical Psychology Conference in Sydney, Professor Creamer said “the bread and butter disorders of depression and anxiety are covered in training for most of our mental health professionals, and most people in the public and private sectors would feel reasonably confident about treating those conditions”.

“But even now PTSD is not well understood or well taught in most of our mainstream training programs so more people need to get additional training to understand and treat this condition.”

Addressing the misconception that PTSD is a war veteran illness – predominantly driven by the high prevalence of PTSD among the returning US troops – Professor Creamer said people often forget
incidents like sexual assault produce very high rates of PTSD, as do natural disasters and physical injuries like motor vehicle accidents.

Professor Creamer suggested addressing the training shortfalls would go a long way to successfully treating the condition on the back of good evidence-based treatment options.
“The evidence is very clear now that trauma-focused psychological treatments are the most effective”, like CBT, but medication still has an important role to play, especially SSRIs as second line treatment.

“If clinicians know what effective treatment is available at least that’s halfway there,” he said.

As first appeared in Psychiatry Update, 28 June 2012

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