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The Safety of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction

According to H. Sommer, critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) remains highly controversial as a form of treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is usually experienced by military veterans. As a type of therapy, the basic goal of CISD is to prevent or reduce traumatic stress symptoms through group participation via a rigid protocol which some professional therapists have criticized as being ineffective if not psychologically damaging (2012). Therefore, after consulting several reputable sources, it appears that CISD therapy does not achieve its intended goals and objectives related to delaying or postponing PTSD symptoms before they occur.

As to the overall safety of CISD therapy, S.O. Lilienfeld (2007, p. 59) notes that several recent studies done under strictly controlled conditions revealed that CISD therapy was ineffective in relation to helping to delay and/or postpone the symptoms associated with post traumatic stress disorder, such as recurrent thoughts or nightmares, a diminished response to the external world, hyperalertness, sleep disorders, irritability, memory impairment, difficulty concentrating, depression, and anxiety (Glanze, 2005, p. 497). Lilienfeld also relates that several randomized controlled trials revealed that CISD therapy can produce long-lasting negative effects and may even interrupt or impede the recovery process from PTSD (2007, p. 59).

In addition, Lilienfeld points out that other randomized controlled trials that explored the effects of CISD therapy on persons already exposed to various types of trauma did nothing to alleviate or ward off the symptoms of PTSD (2007, p. 59). However, some individuals placed under CISD therapy did in fact report some improvement in their PTSD symptoms, but Lilienfeld explains this as being the result of self-improvement, perhaps due to understanding the symptoms better than most PTSD sufferers (2007, p. 59).

In the journal article “Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by Exposure and/or Cognitive Restructuring,” Marks, Lovell, Noshirvani, Livanou, and Thrasher define three specific alternative therapies for PTSD–first, exposure therapy in which the patient reimagines his/her traumatic incident; second, cognitive restructuring in which the patient attempts to re-appraise and alter their thoughts and beliefs concerning a traumatic experience; and third, a combination of exposure/cognitive restructuring therapies (1998, p. 318). Of these three therapies, cognitive restructuring appears to be the most effective, due to broad-based improvements in most patients some six months after the initial treatment program (Marks, Lovell, Noshirvani, Livanou, and Thrasher, 1998, p. 324).

Summation

Overall, the research conducted by Marks, Lovell, Noshirvani, Livanou, and Thrasher supports the suggestion that cognitive restructuring therapy as opposed to CISD therapy is quite superior for most individuals suffering from PTSD. Marks, et al. also note that some type of synthesis or combination of various positive therapies must be developed in order to relieve PTSD-induced depression via medication and alter the way that PTSD patients view themselves and their specific traumatic incidents (1998, p. 324).

References

Glanze, W.D., ed., et al. (2005). Mosby’s Encyclopedia of Psychological Disorders. St. Louis, MO: C.V. Mosby, Inc.

Lilienfeld, S.O. (2007). Psychological treatments that cause harm. Association for Psychological Science (2)1: 53-70. Retrieved from http://www/ipfw.edu/psyc/young/YoungFiles/Abnormal/Psych%20treatments%20that%20cause%20harm.pdf

Marks, I., Lovell, K., Noshirvani, H., Livanou, M., & S. Thrasher. (1998). Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder by exposure and/or cognitive restructuring. Archives of General Psychiatry 55: 317-325.

Sommer, H. (2012). A review of the history, theory, and effectiveness of critical incident stress debriefing (CISD). Retrieved from http://www.heathsommer.com/13.html

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