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What Is the Most Important Thing for a Healthcare Provider to Do When Starting PTSD Treatment?

What Is the Most Important Thing for a Healthcare Provider to Do When Starting PTSD Treatment?


What is the most important thing for a healthcare provider to do when starting PTSD treatment?

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[Lt. Col. Philip Holcombe] The most important thing that a provider can do in the first session with a post-traumatic stress disorder patient is establish trust. Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder have had their worldview shaken. They don't know who they can trust, they don't know what they can trust, and often, they come in concerned that they're going to have an experience in which they're going to be embarrassed or shamed. They may be concerned that the provider is going to see them as weak. They may have even experienced care providers who haven't seemed to have responded in helpful ways. So the most important thing to achieve in the first session with post-traumatic stress disorder is establishing trust. It is not unusual for service members with post-traumatic stress disorder to feel the behavioral health provider out for three, four, five sessions before they'll say, "Hey, doc, let me tell you what's really going on." The other important thing to do is to remember that you're not just establishing trust with the patient. You're establishing trust with the patient's support network, whether they're in the room with you or not, so you'd better know what you're doing. You better know what you're doing as a provider because if you don't know what you're doing, they're not gonna feel confidence in you, and they don't feel confidence in themselves. Why are they going to trust you with your emotional safety? So providers need to establish trust, and they need to establish trust by demonstrating that they know what they're doing, and they need to know what they're doing by studying the evidence-based practices.

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Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine.

Lt. Col. Philip Holcombe, PhDLt. Col. Philip Holcombe, PhD, Lt. Col. Philip Holcombe is an Army psychologist who serves as the chief of Clinical Recommendations at the Deployment Health Clinical Center at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

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