Dr Barbara Rothbaum features as a guest expert on episode 4 'Treating Trauma' of Trauma and Resilience. In the episode, Barbara contributes her expertise on Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) alongside fellow guest experts Dr Debra Kaysen and Associate Professor Christopher Lee, and host and presenter Professor Mark Creamer. Together, they discuss three main frontline treatments for PTSD.
Alongside her contributions to MHPN Presents, Barbara is also the Associate Vice Chair of Clinical Research at the Emory School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry; a Director at Emory Healthcare Veterans’ Program; and the Paul A. Janssen Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology.
You are well recognised for your work in the field of trauma, how did you become involved in the field?
BARBARA ROTHBAUM: My first job after graduate school was with Dr. Edna Foa in 1986. This was not long after PTSD became an official diagnosis in the DSM-III in 1980. Those studies were prospectively following women who had been sexually assaulted right after the assault for 12 weeks to plot the course of PTSD and a treatment study for sexual assault survivors with PTSD that included exposure therapy.
Did the accessibility of MHPN Presents’ podcast series and our diverse listeners comprising practitioners and the general public, influence how and what you expressed on the topic of trauma? If so, how?
BARBARA ROTHBAUM: Yes and no - even mental health professionals of different orientations don’t completely understand their colleagues’ approaches and methods, so I think it’s always important to not assume anything.
Prolonged Exposure therapy (PET) makes common sense that most people can understand: if someone is haunted by something that happened to them in the past, they need to emotionally process the experience so that it can be filed away without intruding on daily life.
I don’t think there is any way to the other side of the pain except through it. We have recently written a book, 'PTSD: What Everyone Needs to Know', that we hope will be accessible to professionals and non-professionals.
Can you share any highlights, notable experiences, or new insights gained from contributing your time and expertise to the Trauma and Resilience series?
BARBARA ROTHBAUM: I have not participated in many podcasts, and those I have, were just me and the interviewer. Having Professor Mark Creamer, a seasoned PTSD clinical researcher and practitioner, act as the moderator, and a discussion with other PTSD experts, was a blast! It was collegial, informative, and fun!
If you could leave listeners of your episode with three main points regarding treatment of PTSD and related conditions, what would they be?
- PTSD can be treated, and treatment works. Some of our patients wonder how anything can help, since we can’t change what happened. Although what happened was likely terrible, the current problems are caused by PTSD, and we CAN treat PTSD.
- Talk about it, talk about it, and talk about it, until you don’t need to talk about it anymore. Don’t worry that others are sick of hearing about it, or you’re being a drag or bringing people down. You would want to be there for them, so let them be there for you.
- If the first approach or therapist doesn’t work, keep trying. Luckily, we have several different treatments that are effective for PTSD, just as we heard on the podcast.
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