Becoming a Trauma-Aware Therapist: Definitions and Assessment
Becoming a Trauma-Aware Therapist: Definitions and Assessment is organized by ContinuingEdCourses.Net, Inc.
ACE provider approval period: 3/9/2015-3/9/2021
CE Hours: 3
Psychological trauma has become recognized as a common risk factor for many problems that individuals experience, both psychological and somatic. Briere and Scott (2012), in their review of the literature, have identified exposure to trauma as a risk factor for a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses. While trauma has been specifically implicated etiologically in the diagnoses that constitute the Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders section of the DSM-5 as well as in the development of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), research has indicated that trauma exposure accounts for significant parts of the variance of the development of depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, many Somatic symptom and related disorders, and some kinds of psychosis. Additionally, trauma exposure is frequently present in the histories of people with compulsive and addictive behaviors, with substance abuse being one of the two most frequently diagnosed comorbid conditions for individuals with PTSD. Repeated exposure to trauma in childhood can lead to a variant of post-traumatic response known as Complex Trauma, which presents a more challenging and complicated set of outcomes and problematic coping strategies. No matter its source or its frequency in a person’s life, trauma is always a biopsychosocial/spiritual-existential phenomenon whose effects can be seen in the forms of distress and dysfunction in almost every variable of human functioning.
Despite this near-ubiquity, training in trauma treatment is rarely offered during the professional education of psychotherapists. A 2011 survey conducted by the Education and Training Committee of the APA Division of Trauma Psychology was able to identify less than sixty doctoral programs in the U.S. wherein there is a faculty member with an interest in trauma who might offer coursework, research opportunities, or mentoring, and these data have not changed in a meaningful way over time. Trauma-informed care in mental health and medicine is emerging as an important aspect of providing high-quality services to all patients, and yet training for trauma-informed care appears to be minimal in almost all disciplines, even though describing oneself as trauma-informed is becoming more common, since there are no clear standards for what constitutes the use of this description. For psychotherapists further along in their careers, training in trauma has generally required sufficient pre-existing interest and commitment to attend continuing education courses and conferences or seek specialized consultation.
Because of this dearth of formal training on the topic of trauma, myths and misconceptions abound about what constitutes a traumatic stressor. There is a wide range of definitions of trauma, different strategies for the assessment of post-traumatic phenomena, and a lack of agreement among professionals about appropriate treatment strategies. Self-care for psychotherapists working with trauma survivors is essential, yet training in the subtleties of such self-care is also generally absent from the experiences of professionals.
There are three courses in this series that are intended to be taken in sequence to offer basic information about trauma, to prepare psychotherapists to function effectively with trauma survivors, and to competently offer what is increasingly being referred to as trauma-informed care. A focus of these courses will be the development of a culturally-humble, integrative model of trauma treatment that eschews a one-size-fits-all approach in favor of a nuanced understanding of how events are experienced as traumatic by individuals through the lenses and contexts of their particular intersectional identities. Each of these courses will focus on the treatment of adult survivors of trauma, although a thorough understanding of developmental phenomena is a necessary foundation for working with adult trauma survivors, many of whom experience themselves as younger in their emotional and cognitive capacities than would be expected by their chronological ages. This first course, Becoming a Trauma-Aware Therapist: Definitions and Assessment, covers questions regarding what constitutes a trauma, and how to assess for its effects in a range of ways. The second course, Treating Trauma: Basic Skills and Specific Treatments, introduces an over-arching framework for trauma treatment, and then reviews the large variety of specific treatments for trauma that are now available, briefly reviewing recent meta-analyses of some of these treatments. This second course also examines how the common factors of psychotherapy, also known as Evidence-Based Relationship Variables, and an understanding of stages of change in psychotherapy are essential components of trauma-informed therapy practice. The third course, Emotional and Cultural Competence in the Trauma-Aware Therapist, explores being sensitive to the patient's multilayered cultural identities when being treated for trauma, as well as that of the therapist working with the trauma patient. This series of courses reflects the recommendations of a task force convened by the APA Division of Trauma Psychology to development formal competency recommendations in trauma treatment (Cook & Newman, 2014).
Cultural CompetencyAdult Abuse
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- CE Hours : 3
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