A University of Connecticut professor has been studying two treatment therapies for post traumatic stress disorder. The study focuses on the military community which sees a disproportionate number of PTSD cases.
Dr. Julian Ford started recruiting veterans and active duty servicemembers for the study more than a year ago after receiving a grant from the U.S Department of Justice. Why the DOJ and not the federal VA? Ford says an inability to control anger is a common trait among people with PTSD. And that often leads a person to the criminal justice system. "There are more and more veterans who are experiencing difficulties and contact with the legal system. It's not an epidemic but it's definitely a concern."
There are three therapies commonly used by clinicians to treat PTSD. One is prolonged exposure, where a person with PTSD is asked to recall a traumatic memory over and over until the patient feels it's no longer stressful. In his study, Ford is comparing prolonged exposure to a therapy he developed called TARGET. He feels TARGET can help veterans because it doesn't require them to recount traumatic experiences. This makes a difference for veterans dealing with combat memories. "Men and women who served in the military realize that civilians have no idea what it's like to serve in the military and they're absolutely right. But civilians do know what it's like to deal with stress reactions in life. And that's what our focus is: we're finding that opens the door to thoughtful frank discussions that hopefully will be very helpful to the participants."
The study is looking for ninety male participants, but only one third have been recruited so far. Those involved in the confidential study are asked to participate in one ninety minute session for ten weeks. More information can be found by calling 860-679-2587, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, Ford's therapy for PTSD is currently being used in juvenile justice programs in several states including Connecticut.