Identifying and Treating Race-based Trauma

Identifying and Treating Race-based Trauma

Statistics indicate the United States of America (USA) is becoming more diverse and a nation of plurality. Despite statistics, USA has consistently struggled with its ability to respect, accept, and include diverse populations. Individuals of color experience direct and indirect health care disparities such as unequal access to material, social, and educational resources on a prevalent and consistent basis. They are often not able to afford health insurance, in addition, experience racist behaviors and discrimination amongst healthcare providers.

Racial and ethnic discrimination can cause negative psychological consequences that cause race-related stress and could eventually cause race-based trauma (Hemmings & Evans 2018). These psychological issues encompass feelings of helplessness, paranoia, anxiety, fear, medical health issues, numbing to their emotions, denigration of one’s sociocultural in-groups, and the onset of PTSD.

One solution is improving the health of individuals of color. Healthcare professionals would need to make better efforts to address racism when working with minorities. Research shows facilitating multiculturally competent care would require awareness of race, racism, discrimination, and how these factors contribute to subpar healthcare practices (Hemming & Evans 2018). Multicultural training within the mental health field also needs to be improved. A solution would be more effective training and treatment models for counselors to be better prepared to establish a therapeutic relationship with a person of color.

Written by Victoria Fontenot – Behavior Therapist. To seek care with us – please call 972-332-8765.

Hemmings, C & Evans, A. M. (2018). Identifying and treating race-based trauma in counseling. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, (4), 20-37. https://doi:10.1002/jmcd.12090

Offering Your Anxious Clients the Standard of Care

Offering Your Anxious Clients the Standard of Care

                              Offering Your Anxious Clients the ‘Gold Standard’ of Care

         Exposure therapy has long been supported as the ‘gold standard’ treatment for anxiety disorders. Despite strong empirical support for the effectiveness of exposure therapy, many therapists underutilize exposure therapy in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders.

Studies examining why clinicians tend to underutilize exposure therapy indicate several important factors.

These factors include:

  • Lack of appropriate training or supervision to learn these methods.
  • Holding negative or inaccurate perceptions about exposure therapy and when it is contraindicated.
  • Clinician belief that clients will reject the treatment, drop out of treatment, or that exposure therapy may cause harm to clients by asking them to engage with aversive experiences.

In summary, clinicians tend to underutilize the ‘gold standard’ of treatments for anxiety and related disorders because they tend to have little training or experience with it. A key factor in alleviating these issues is offering more training and consultation on utilization of exposure-based treatments.

If you would like to learn more about using exposure therapy in your practice:

  • Sign up for our blog, below.
  • Contact us at 972-332-8733 to join our consultation group or to set up individual case consultation.

     by Perry Leynor, LPC Associate under the supervision of Paula Maloney, LPC-S.    

Meyer, J. M., Farrell, N. R., Kemp, J. J., Blakey, S. M., & Deacon, B. J. (2014). Why do clinicians exclude anxious clients from exposure therapy? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 54, 49-53. https://doi:10.1016/j.brat.2014.01.004

Evidence-based Treatments for PTSD: Prolonged Exposure and Behavioral Activation

Evidence-based Treatments for PTSD: Prolonged Exposure and Behavioral Activation

Many people witness or experience some kind of traumatic event during their lifetime; however, these events affect people in different ways. It is common for people who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event to have some difficulty adjusting and coping, but symptoms such as flashbacks and anxiety typically improve with time (Mayo Clinic). However, for some people, symptoms get worse or persist for several months or years and interfere with daily functioning, which is usually an indication of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD; Mayo Clinic). A common form of treatment for PTSD is exposure-based therapy which involves intentionally imagining the traumatic experience and interacting with people, places, or things that are associated with or related to the traumatic event (Gros et al., 2012). However, some individuals with PTSD also have symptoms of depression which sometimes persist after treatment for PTSD (Gros et al., 2012). Due to this concern, Gros and colleagues (2012) sought to evaluate the effects of a treatment package for individuals with PTSD and depression which included evidence-based therapies for each of these conditions.

Eighty-two combat veterans completed participation in the current study which incorporated exposure therapy and behavioral activation (BA)—an evidence-based treatment for depression involving planning activities that are aligned with personal values. Each treatment session was 90 minutes, and participants completed eight treatment sessions. Treatment consisted of encouraging participants to plan activities consistent with personal values—some of which involved exposure to feared situations such as shopping in a crowded mall—and writing or speaking about the traumatic event (i.e., imaginal exposure). In this way, participants used behavioral activation combined with exposure therapy. Throughout the study, participants completed a variety of questionnaires designed to assess the severity of symptoms of PTSD and depression. Overall, researchers observed improvements in PTSD and overlapping symptoms of PTSD and depression; however, similar effects were not observed for nonoverlapping symptoms of depression. The authors concluded that more research is needed to determine the effects of specific treatment components on specific symptoms of PTSD and depression, and which additional treatment components may enhance treatment effects.