Association of Social Workers

Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy.  Brief eclectic psychotherapy pools many of the aspects psychodynamics and the cognitive behavioral approach.  Treatment is focused on changing negative emotions associated with shame and guilt.  The client-patient relationship is also emphasized and each weekly one-hour session has a specific objective.  This type of intervention is most effective for one who has been exposed to a single traumatic event (APA, 2018a, Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy).

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).  EMDR is a structured form of therapy which is meant to encourage the client to focus on the traumatic memory momentarily while experiencing bilateral stimuli simultaneously.  The stimulation is typically eye movements, which are associated with reducing vividness and negative emotion associated with the client’s traumatic memory.  This type of treatment is usually delivered on an individual basis once or twice weekly for a total of six weeks (APA, 2018a, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy).

Medications.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (2017d) describes four medications generally used in the treatment of PTSD: Sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), Fluoxetine (Prozac), and Venlafaxine (Effexor).  Each has been shown helpful in treating symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with the disorder.  They affect the ways in which the brain processes chemicals which affects the way one feels and behaves (Antidepressants).

Agency Resources Needed to Treat PTSD

There are many resources necessary to effectively treat a veteran suffering from the symptoms of PTSD.  Firstly, if the veteran is in a severe crisis or has suicidal ideation, the agency should ensure the veteran gets to the nearest emergency room.  For non-life-threatening situations, the agency should maintain a list of trusted mental health providers servicing military and veteran populations.  In addition, below are other helpful resources to have:

Training and Education Needed to Treat PTSD

The first thing workers in the agency should do is familiarize themselves with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).  This will help to recognize and identify the symptoms of PTSD.  NASW (2012) provides the following guidance for working with service members, veterans, and their families:

  • social workers must remain knowledgeable about the most effective practice models and changes to the systems in which they work;
  • they should understand that health and behavioral health issues related to military evolve in ways specific to combat experience and exposure;
  • workers should remain informed about research and EBP specific to military populations; and
  • workers should continue to improve their practice through education and training specific to military and veteran populations and promote said knowledge with colleagues (Standard 7 Professional Development).

Department of Defense, VA, and Community Resources

The Department of defense offers guidance about psychological health and traumatic brain injury through the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE).  According to DCoE (n.d.), the center’s mission is ”to improve the lives of our nation’s service members, families and veterans by advancing excellence in psychological health and traumatic brain injury prevention and care” (Mission).   The Department of Veterans Affairs provides support and research through the National Center for PTSD.

Below are links to agency websites and or phone numbers for several federal and community resources available to providers, service members and veterans, and their families: