Newman and Yale colleague launch national project in trauma care

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Psychology professors develop model for treating trauma-related mental health issues

McFarlin Professor of Psychology Elana Newman is working to educate mental health practitioners about essentials for treating trauma survivors.

Newman and fellow American Psychological Association (APA) member Joan Cook, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University, hosted a conference in April at the Yale School of Medicine to present the basic knowledge, skill set and methods needed to effectively treat patients. “Advancing the Science of Education, Training and Practice in Trauma” welcomed 60 national experts in psychology, social work and psychiatry for three days of interactive working groups. The competencies focused on scientific knowledge about trauma, psychosocial assessment, psychosocial intervention, professionalism and relational systems.

Newman and Cook say this standard model for treating trauma-related mental health issues will serve as a resource for providers. “If physicians and other health care providers obtain this knowledge and use these guidelines in their clinical practice, trauma patients will face less risk of developing mental disorders such as depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” Newman says.

Primary funding for the conference was provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality with support from the APA's Division of Trauma Psychology, its Board of Educational Affairs, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the National Center for PTSD and the VA's National Center for Homelessness.

Trauma is associated with physical health problems, negative health behaviors, poor social occupational functioning and an overall decreased quality of life. According to the APA, nearly 60 percent of American adults have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life. A growing awareness of trauma following national tragedies, such as 9/11, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is expected to increase the number of trauma survivors seeking treatment.

Gail Ellis