Promising results for new PTSD therapy

More participants are needed for development of an expanded treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Flinders University researchers are conducting a PTSD therapy trial which aims to improve recovery after a traumatic event.

The study began in early 2017 and has so far recruited 60 participants. Successful outcomes so far have paved the way for further opportunities to participate in 2018.

“We are very pleased with the initial uptake into the study,”says director of the clinical psychology program at Flinders, Professor Reg Nixon, who is leading the trial.

The holistic approach, which builds on the standard use of trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy, provides additional support for survivors of traumatic events ranging from assault, torture and abuse to accidents or natural disasters.

“The Flinders trials invites people to participate in up to 15 free counselling sessions to assist them to deal with the symptoms of trauma and to improve their outlook and lifestyle.”

Professor Nixon says trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the recommended psychological treatments for PTSD – a method that has good results in dealing with a range of traumas.

“Our approach however includes introducing some flexibility in how the therapy is conducted, should that be needed,” he said.

Psychologist Marja Elizabeth, who facilitates the study, has seen first-hand the results.

“As a result of this therapy, I have seen people shift quite debilitating symptoms of PTSD such as flashbacks, sleep disturbances, hyper-vigilance and negative mood and anxiety, ”says Ms Elizabeth. “PTSD is not something that you need to live with and manage; it is something that can remit with therapy which can totally change people’s outlook on life.”

The counselling sessions are available to people over the age of 18 who have experienced a traumatic event, have developed symptoms of PTSD and can commit to weekly therapy sessions at Flinders University Trauma Unit.

People who wish to participate will be screened to determine eligibility for the trial, and be asked to participate in assessment interviews both before and after treatment, and again six months after therapy.

Ms Elizabeth urges members of the community to pass on the information to anyone who has sustained a traumatic event and are experiencing symptoms as a result.

Contact traumaunit@flinders.edu.au

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