A national consensus conference entitled, "Advancing the Science of Education, Training and Practice in Trauma" was recently held at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
At this three-day event, held April 25th-28th, sixty national trauma experts gathered to identify the empirically-informed knowledge, attitude and skills that mental health providers must have from a "competency" perspective when providing services to traumatized children and adults.
Several national organizations, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD, the VA's National Center for Homelessness and the American Psychological Association's Division of Trauma Psychology, participated in this first-of-its-kind conference.
Joan M. Cook, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, chaired the conference. Dr. Cook is also a research affiliate of the VA’s National Center for PTSD with numerous publications in the traumatic stress and geriatric mental health fields, including scientific papers on the phenomenology, assessment and treatment of older adult trauma survivors.
Since 2001, Dr. Cook has continuously received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to conduct research on the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD. She has been active in the leadership of American Psychological Association Division 56 (Trauma Psychology) serving as one of the division's Council of Representatives as well as on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
The conference featured a special introduction by Catherine L. Grus, PhD, the deputy executive director for education at the American Psychological Association.
Other current Yale School of Medicine faculty who served as conference organizers and delegates include Jason Deviva, PhD; Steven Marans, MSW, PhD; Robert Pietrzak, PhD, MPH; Carla Smith Stover, PhD; Steven Southwick, MD; and Dolores Vojvoda, MD.
One outcome of the conference will be the publishing of a core competency model in trauma mental health so it can serve as template for professional organizations and graduate programs and to promote more extensive training in assessing and treating psychological trauma.
As an example, practicing mental health providers who are interested in developing advanced competencies related to working with traumatized children and adults may find published trauma training models a helpful guideline for planning their own professional development. Similarly, health care administrators, graduate school faculty and training directors planning to review or develop trauma training programs will find these evidence-based core competencies useful.
Dr. Cook will work with Dr. Grus and other key members of the Division of Trauma Psychology to prepare the competencies for review and formal approval by the American Psychological Association.