Do we let patients suffer needlessly?

Joris HaagenPTSD treatment guidelines invariably point to trauma-focused therapy, such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) as preferred interventions. Is the trauma focus justified? Researcher and psychologist Joris Haagen tells the story of a heated academic debate…

An article by Benish, Imel and Wampold (2008) challenged our belief in the necessity of a trauma focus. According to the authors it does not matter which psychological intervention we employ and whether it is trauma-focused or not. Could this mean that traumatized patients needlessly suffer from therapeutic exposure to horrific memories? The article was the start of a fiery debate between prominent researchers.

Let’s start with the initial article itself. Dr. Benish et al. published a meta-analysis with data from 15 studies and 958 patients in PTSD treatment. The aims of their meta-analysis were most unusual; whereas the last decades were dedicated to the discovery of the most effective therapies, based on the assumption that the effectiveness varies between interventions, Benish et al. assumed and tested the reverse: all therapeutically-intended interventions are equally efficacious. Continue reading

Highlights of the ISTSS conference in Baltimore

Last week’s conference of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Society was a success. A lively conference with a number of excellent and thought-provoking presentations, where some insights kept on popping up. For me, the highlights of the conference with regard to children and youth all related to interventions:

New, large studies on early interventions

Researchers from Switzerland and Australia presented the outline of large, rigorous studies to measure the effect of early interventions for children who have been accidentally injured. These studies will lead to insights into the effectiveness of a short intervention and a longer one. Continue reading