A MATTER OF PUBLIC TRUST

A Study of Police Suicide in 2008-2016
Girl's Letter to School
Police Suicide - What It ISN'T
Master Police Coaches - Building a Better Cop
PTSD - The "Hidden Injury"
Police Suicide - Making a Difference
The Importance of Therapy
Police Suicide - the SOLUTIONS
Interview with the BOL Chairman
So-Called "Helpers"
A MATTER OF PUBLIC TRUST
2016 Police Suicide Study
Annual Mental Health Checks
Stigma - The Human Stain
2016 Police Suicides: the NSOPS Study
Police Stress vs Trauma--a difference?
Does PTSD Cause Violence? from the Badge of Life
A New Police Suicide Prevention Program for the 21st Century
Police Suicide, Just a Bad Choice?
Chiefs Lead the Way
"Bring a Buddy"
Cumulative PTSD - a Silent Killer
Dealing with a Suicidal Police Officer

Richard L. Levenson, Jr., Psy.D. and Marla Friedman, Psy.D., PC

 

Board of Directors, Badge of Life

 

 

 

So you went to graduate school, put your life on hold, worked like a dog, and borrowed loans that will follow you for decades.  This committed effort was rewarded in you earning your doctorate in psychology, your master’s degree in social work, or you went to medical school and now are a physician.  In some states, there are other categories such as “licensed mental health clinician,” but these are typically mental health counselors who have master’s degrees and often less training and experience.  In all of these fields, and in order to practice in your respective profession, you must now take a licensing examination like law school graduates who take a “Bar” exam.

You pass your licensing examination and you can now practice your profession independently.  If you are a physician, you complete a residency in adult psychiatry or child and adolescent psychiatry.  Presumably, you will gain much more training and certainly more experience as the years go by, and you will practice – as you have been taught – in an ethical, responsible, and professional manner further guided by a set of rules, standards and regulations established by the state in which you live (these can vary by state).  Licensure in psychology, social work, medicine, and mental health counseling are the minimum educational and legal standards for practice in most, if not all, states.  This not only protects the public, but allows individuals to make informed decisions about their own mental health as they can rely on their states criteria as well as their own judgment based on personal research, referrals from trusted friends and family, and actual evidence supporting the correct treatment for their specific disorder. 

 

Your interest in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) inspires you to specialize.  You become an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of stress, anxiety, and depressive disorders by treating those so diagnosed, having psychotherapy supervision by a senior colleague, attending workshops and trainings, reading texts and journal articles, writing articles, and by continuing to give yourself further education in this chosen specialty.  If you are a board-certified psychiatrist, you become knowledgeable about which medicines to prescribe for your patients’ symptoms and you stay abreast of developments in psychopharmacology (i.e., not psychotherapy) as applied to PTSD and related diagnoses.

You practice the profession by learning the “best practices” in the field of PTSD, and you become further educated in the treatments shown by research to be the most effective treatments (i.e., psychotherapies) by controlled research studies.  You are a clinician, but you are always guided by scientific research.  In this regard, the only research-based psychotherapeutic treatments for PTSD are:  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and specific therapeutic techniques such as Prolonged Exposure Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  There are cases that sometimes call for other methods to be used as an adjunct to researched-based practices but these are used when extra support, insight, or individual needs call for supplementary techniques which provide an additional layer of comfort or understanding.  These techniques are, however, used at the discretion of an experienced and licensed clinician.  They are never used alone as they are not effective in treating PTSD on their own.

 

Such is the road to becoming a genuine resource to those suffering from PTSD and who come to you for diagnosis and treatment.  There are no shortcuts.  But, some who are not qualified claim that their “therapies” or programs work.  These untrained folks are sometimes PTSD sufferers themselves who use non-traditional/non-scientific methods to promote their own brands of “therapy.”  What they are really doing is using unproven methods to shore themselves up and engage the company of like-minded sufferers.  Most of these non-professionals mean well and want to help, but in the end their actions likely serve to prolong suffering which delays access to real treatment methods practiced by licensed professionals. Additionally, some of these people might be clinicians who are not willing to go the distance to earn the more difficult, time intensive, and expensive degrees resulting in state licensure.  

 

To be direct, and this statement may be very unpopular among unlicensed self-promoters, there is no scientific evidence to support the use of life coaching, neuro-linguistic programming, rapid resolution therapy, equine therapy, cognition and emotion therapy, aqua therapy, hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy—and many others which are too numerous to list here— for the treatment and "cure" of PTSD.  RRT, for example, claims to cure PTSD in only one session.  Others make similar unrealistic claims.  Use of these unscientific methods may be dangerous to the uninformed public who lack specific knowledge of who they should go to and what should work.  People sometimes choose a doctor by convenience near where they live or work, or by word of mouth referral from someone who is likewise uninformed.  Badge of Life cannot endorse treatments or programs that have no basis in solid research evidence.

 

Moreover, the title “therapist” is not a protected title under law, and can be used by anyone to promote anything.  Even the term “psychotherapist,” used by many licensed social workers, is not a protected title, meaning that anyone can use the term “psychotherapist” and render invalid treatments to the unsuspecting public.  So, when looking for someone to treat PTSD, one should look for a “Licensed Psychologist,” a “Licensed Social Worker,” a Board-Certified Psychiatrist (these protected titles might vary by state) or other state licensed mental health professional.

Please be an educated consumer when looking for therapeutic treatment of PTSD.


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