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7. Explaining PTSD is part of Treating PTSD: Lessons for Mental Health Professionals.

Explaining PTSD is essential in treating PTSD. In this program, two experts, Dr. Frank Ochberg and Dr. Angie Panos, give new therapists, and therapists new to PTSD insightful and thoughtful suggestions about explaining the condition. Their approach includes educating patients, significant others, caregivers, and the general public.  They do this without becoming either too technical or too superficial, but in a supportive, consistent, enthusiastic, and friendly manner.

Dr. Ochberg models describing PTSD to your patient and Dr. Panos discusses how to explain the causes of PTSD to a general audience.

Frank Ochberg is a psychiatrist and the former Associate Director of the National
Institute of Mental Health and a member of the team that wrote the medical
definition for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  He was the editor of
America's first PSTD treatment text and is a recipient of the
Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Traumatic
Stress Studies.

Dr. Angie Panos holds a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology.  She is a licensed
marriage and family therapist, and a licensed clinical social worker. 
She has more than twenty years experience in traumatic stress treatment,
dealing with war refugees, domestic violence, victims of rape, and child

Running Time: 24 minutes.
$48.00 plus shipping. Available in DVD

© 2005

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DVD Review

Explaining PTSD is Part of Treating PTSD: Lessons for Mental Health Professionals"

"This is a nice, concise, easy to watch DVD that is simple, yet profound, in its admonishment for mental health professionals to educate PTSD patients about their disorder. The gems that come from these two, well-respected, seasoned PTSD experts, psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, M.D. and clinical psychologist Angie Panos, Ph.D., are well work keeping."

Carl C. Bell, M.D.
President/C.E.O. Community Mental Health Council
Chicago, IL 60617
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DVD Review

Explaining PTSD is Part of Treating PTSD: Lessons for Mental Health Professionals"

"I cannot stress enough how very much my staff and I enjoyed this program. As you know, we have worked in the trauma field for over 20 years; however, "Explaining PTSD" was so validating to us as clinicians. Frank Ochberg and Angie Panos encapsulated concisely and clearly the most important and salient treatment protocols for the therapist. Sometimes we lose sight of that.

This superb program demonstrated the breadth and the depth of their many
years of trauma work. Their expertise is a credit to all of us who do this
work on a daily basis. I was particularly moved when Frank Ochberg spoke
about how survivors so often lose their dignity and their humanity.
Another valuable resource offered by "Gift From Within." Thank you.

Dr. Beverly J. Anderson, B.C.E.T.S.
Clinical Director/Administrator
Metropolitan Police Employee Assistance Program
Metropolitan Police Department
Washington, DC 20003

DVD Review

Explaining PTSD is Part of Treating PTSD: Lessons for Mental Health Professionals"

The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children(TLC) trains thousands of professionals yearly. "Explaining PTSD is Part of Treating PTSD" is indeed a rich and valuable resource for practitioners in the field of trauma. Educating victims as to"what trauma is"; what it is that they are already experiencing and may yet experience, is the beginning of healing. To simply hear that, initially, it is not necessary to go into all the horrid details of their experience in order to feel a little bit better, is of tremendous relief for victims. It immediately helps create a sense of safety so essential throughout the intervention process. "Explaining PTSD is Part of Treating PTSD," presents lessons that offer encouragement and support for those victims able to begin the journey from victim to survivor. Even the skilled clinician can learn from the lessons taught by Drs.Ochberg and Panos.

William Steele, MSW, PsyD
Director, TLC Institute
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DVD Review

Explaining PTSD is Part of Treating PTSD: Lessons for Mental Health Professionals"

"First Session Immediacy: Co-Therapy with Victim in Learning and Healing Trauma Together."

Gift From Within has produced another noteworthy and highly valuable healing instrument, the video, "Explaining PTSD is Part of Treating PTSD (ExPTSD)." I recalled 24 years ago I wrote the article and later a chapter by the same title, "The Reparation of the Self: Clinical and Theoretical Dimensions in the Treatment of War Veterans." At the time I saw PTSD education as the first critical clinical action in communicating safety and establishing credibility with angry, alienated, unemployed, distrustful victim/patients. Education phrase was one of several phases in a multiphase treatment model.

The form of educative processes highlighted by the Video essentially reassures the victim, as it states, "There is a body of trauma information that comes from both scientific investigation and from the personal experiences of people just like you, those who know what it feels like to suffer pangs of anxiety, panic, depression, helplessness, and to feel stuck and hopeless in ways similar to you." I believed then and believe this even more now that explaining PTSD to our patients is essential to early engaging process in therapy or counseling, to establishing a working treatment relationship and to reducing the chances the patient will leave before the work of trauma restoration and healing have been accomplished.

I am personally delighted that the term "psychoeducation" as not used in this video. I think psychoeducation has a meaningful place in the annals of psychiatric rehabilitation of psychotically disordered persons. However, when it comes to trauma work with patients suffering traumatic stress (or PTSD) "psychoeducation" as originally conceived with seriously disturbed patients do not apply. For me, "PTSD education" or "Trauma Education" is preferable. In my judgment, despite the relatively wide use of "psychoeducation" in trauma work, the term should be confined to group of disturbances for which it was originally designed. I can hear someone saying, "Oh, it's just semanticgs!" But the words we use and concept we employ in our work have power facilitate or impede the working through of the trauma.

I am also glad and relieved that the Video makes it clear that PTSD is a mental disorder and not a normal stress response. Thus, PTSD interventions must be planned, organized, and delivered by sophisticated therapists and counselors. It debunks the popular, "less-than-candid" assertion that PTSD is a normal response to an abnormal situation. In my experience this simplistic and very inaccurate position has led to ineffectual treatment engagements by poor training or even untrained "providers" that have no business treating anyone much less the vulnerable trauma victim.

The ExPTSD video explains that PTSD is emotional injury, that it's insidious, and is experienced by victims as internally earth shattering. It's earth shattering because it shakes up and turns upside down one's world, and often radically alters the victim's pre-trauma identity and ways of seeing self and world. The Video answers well the question, "What Is PTSD" in a most concise, complete, coherent and infinitely useful manner, offering helpful analogies, and information on the brain chemistry of TPSD that is easily understood. These specific learning techniques help fortify in the minds of victims and the therapists who serve them that traumatic suffering can be understood, ameliorated, and integrated.

Naturally, victims fear that treatment will trigger PTSD responses overwhelming them anew. The Video presents the essential issues very well, noting that when victims "get it" they feel reassured about their general well-being, about the therapy, and about their futures. The effective therapist is asked to lay out the terrain of therapy, assess the victim's readiness, attending to body language and to verbal and nonverbal cures that often give insight into inner traumatic distress. The therapist is admonished to guard against overestimating or underestimating victims' disability while addressing their fears of being overwhelmed.

As a reviewer, I like the ExPTSD Video. Its importance and value are seen in its candor, accurate, sensitivity, and co-therapeutic format. The two-featured clinicians in the Video offer victims and therapists a unique and interesting approach to evaluative and therapeutic processes. They advocate a structure of mutual unfolding in which co-learning experiences occur between victim and therapist during the initial clinical process. Here the therapist in a deliberate, systematic manner uses the "raw data" directly out of the SM-IV's criterion-referenced symptoms list. Going over the symptoms together, explaining what they are, how they feel, how they interfere with which kinds of everyday activities, with sleep, work and ability to give and receive love proves very reassuring to frightened victims.

This approach already fosters in the victim a sense of control, since the seemingly "mysterious stress responses" are made not only comprehensible on the cognitive level, but is made tolerable to the victim on the emotional level where it truly counts. The victim finds an increase in affect, tolerance, gains reassurance, and experiences at least a modicum of control, relief, and hope. Essentially, this mutuality in co-learning is the sine qua non, in my estimation, of empathic, safety communications because the procedure is unobtrusive, non-invasive, sensitive, and essentially, enlarges the trauma victims' trauma-narrowed emotional world, while building post trauma relational possibilities that serve them well in achieving success in the treatment venture.

The ExPTSD Video facilitates the explaining of PTSD to family members, and to children who are directly and indirectly affected by trauma. From a very practical standpoint, in my clinical experiences has taught me that trauma/PTSD education is very necessary to greet and keep patients coming to therapy. If we do not conduct the first contact well, and they are scared out of treatment, we lose a patient. So to reduce this chance, and increase the chances that the victim will return for the second and other subsequent visits, starting tings off to a good start is obviously important.

Nothing, I believe, is more solidifying of a new therapeutic relationship than when the victim experiences the clinician as knowledgeable and capable of resonating internal distress, and as one trusted in the arena of traumatic anguish. And nothing convinces the victim of this more than the procedures and information outlined in this Video.

Thus, PTSD education is a vital "hook", an incentive that allowed the victim to, often for the first time, connects emotionally with someone who serves as bridge over the turgid waters of psychological trauma- from shattered self to a restored sense of self replete with hope and future.

I thus unhesitatingly recommend this Video to victims, family members, children, and to both novice and experienced therapists.

Erwin R. Parson, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.

Psychologist Diplomate
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Page created on 11 January 2005
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