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How Should Healthcare Providers Help Patients with PTSD Prioritize Their Treatment?

How Should Healthcare Providers Help Patients with PTSD Prioritize Their Treatment?


How should healthcare providers help patients with PTSD prioritize their treatment?

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[Lt. Col. Philip Holcombe] How do you enter into a collaborative relationship with a patient to help them prioritize their treatment needs? Well first and foremost, safety. Safety, safety, safety. So we want to make sure that when patients come in for help that they're safe and that those that they're with are safe. So if a patient comes in with thoughts of self-harm or a propensity for self-harm based upon risk factors, we want to assess those risk factors. We want to address those risk factors. Then after that, what you want to know is what is most important to the patient, what do they most care about right now? So sometimes we'll ask the question, "If life were to be better for you tomorrow, what's the first thing you would notice?" And they may say, "I would get a great night's sleep, and I would wake feeling rested." They might say, "I would be able to wake up and not think about whatever the trauma was." They may say, "I'll be able to wake up and feel like I know who I am." So the most important thing after safety is what's most important to the patient. So the treatment plan really has to be a collaborative effort. Now sometimes the patients are coming in not because they want to be there but because their family member or a friend has said, "Look, you need to get some help because you're driving me crazy. You need to get some help." So sometimes the priorities are established as a larger collaborative, not just between the provider and the patient, but the provider, the patient, and the patient's support network. What's most important to the patient, what's most important to the people with whom they interact, safety. That's how you help a patient prioritize their treatment needs.

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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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