Time to change our perspective on PTSD treatments
Quite often, advances in treatment modalities are not from new drugs or new techniques but rather, from:
- redefining our definitions of disease
- redefining existing treatment methods
- redefining our definition of recovery
Here’s one such example where the common convention of “in-person therapy sessions” for PTSD is modified by the simple removal of the “in-person” and replacing it…with teleconferencing. Such a small change to you and me but it makes a significant difference to the patient and…isn’t that the true end goal?
For veterans who may have difficulty attending in-person therapy sessions to treat post traumatic stress disorder, a recent study has shown that treatment through video conferences, or “telemedicine,” can be just as effective.
Many individuals in need of PTSD services live in remote areas around the world where mental health care tends to be scarce. Traveling great distances in order to access this specific type of care is not always ideal, especially for those who already suffer from mental health problems, and it can also be a financial burden. Providing telemental health technology to individuals who would otherwise not be able to experience PTSD treatment is easing these burdens.
Offering both clinical and educational services, telemedicine utilizes communications technology in support and healthcare when distance becomes an issue. These services can include clinical assessment, psychotherapy (for individuals or groups), cognitive tests, and even general psychiatry.
Compared to prolonged exposure therapy conducted in the homes of patients, telemedicine yielded extremely similar results in terms of effectiveness. While some may argue that in-person treatment allows for a more personal, realistic style of therapy, statistics have shown that those who received the same treatment via video screens had similar levels of improvement.
Despite these results, therapy provided through the internet is among the most disputed forms of telemental health services available, due to the previously mentioned fact; it is less personal. Doctors and therapists have feared that their lack of physical presence allows for the patients to react negatively without control, though studies have proved otherwise.
An extremely important consideration in working with those who suffer from PTSD is establishing a sense of safety and comfort, which may prove difficult without actually being in the room. Tools and techniques that therapists have used in order to combat this obstacle include pre-treatment orientation sessions, utilizing fax machines or email to share documents and paperwork, and questionnaires allowing room for criticism or feedback.
Regardless of the criticism, the results of this study prove that there are very little differences in the outcomes of both in-person treatment and telemental treatment. This could change how mental health services are provided on several different platforms, as well as offer new ideas in the treatment of such problems.
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