PTSD is a relatively new diagnosis.
In 1980, The American Psychiatric Association added PTSD to the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM).
The DSM’s addition of PTSD was important because it explained that the event that causes personal trauma is outside of the individual—not a personal weakness.
Although traditional therapy methods are used to treat PTSD, new and helpful PTSD research is emerging.
The University of Central Florida’s RESTORES Clinic recently received $3 million in new funding to use virtual reality (VR). Its VR treatment is helping military service members, veterans, and first responders with PTSD, the West Orlando news reports.
The funding will help treat these populations and further the clinic’s research. It will help researchers advance simulation and virtual reality tactics.
This treatment may seem strange, but it’s been studied and fine-tuned for years, doctor Albert “Skip” Rizzo of the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, says.
Rizzo has worked with virtual reality and its therapeutic capabilities since the 1990s. Research was hampered by technology in the past. In 2017, this is no longer an issue.
“Finally, the technology has caught up with the vision in this area, and I expect it to really take off in the next year,” Rizzo told Business Insider.
“It has not been the theory or research that has held back clinical VR, rather the availability, adoption and costs that have limited its widespread use.”
Patients are slowly exposed to PTSD triggers during VR exposure therapy. With guidance and repeated treatments, patients “grow accustomed” to the scenario and gradually “cope” with the experience.
The Comprehensive Resource Model
Lisa Schwarz, a licensed psychologist has refined The Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM) over the past ten years. CRM combines psychology, spirituality, neurobiology, and shamanic “animal powers.” It’s used to treat some of the toughest PTSD cases.
CRM therapy requires patients to focus on physical sensations that arise from thinking about trauma.
To help patients deal with their feelings, Schwarz integrated Native American healing arts into her treatment regimen. The doctor combines breathing and visualization exercises, toning techniques, asks patients to think with their bodies, and has patients develop “power animals” that guide them through their memories.
“Really, the [CRM] model is a combination of neuroscience and spirituality,” Schwarz explains.
“We’re trying to really clarify the neurobiology so people can see the model for what it really is, and not what people presume it to be because of some of the aspects that seem to be a little… Strange.”
Thankfully, mental health doctors are learning how to incorporate new and old forms of PTSD treatment.
With time, PTSD may become easily treated. But until then, we’re happy many professionals are on the case.