CINCINNATI—The UC Health Stress Center, a treatment program for persons suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has begun seeing patients at the Stetson Building, home of the UC College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience.
The center, under the direction of Kathleen Chard, PhD, a professor of clinical psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, was created with the assistance of the Joey Votto Foundation. The foundation, launched in 2013 by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, made an initial investment of $426,000 in the center.
"We would like to thank the Joey Votto Foundation and their teammates for their assistance in creating the center,” says Chard, who is also director of trauma recovery at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. "We will be pleased to provide gold-standard, individual, couples and family therapy to individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.”
The UC Health Stress Center occupies space in the Stetson Building at Martin Luther King Drive and Highland Avenue, near UC Medical Center. Caregivers are UC Health clinical psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists.
Chard says the goal for the center is to be able to provide care for approximately 500 new patients and over 4,000 visits/therapy sessions annually.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), posttraumatic stress disorder is a mental health disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.
Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters and many other serious events.
Symptoms of PTSD fall into four main categories: Re-experiencing the event, such as flashbacks or repeated upsetting memories; avoidance, such as feeling detached or having a lack of interest in normal activities; cognitive or emotional problems, such as negative thoughts or feelings; and hyper-arousal, such as difficult concentrating or startling easily.
According to the National Center for PTSD, about 5.2 million adults in the United States have PTSD during a given year.
There are several types of evidence-based treatments for PTSD, including:
• Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): A cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on thoughts and feelings. The focus is on identifying how traumatic experiences changed the patient’s thoughts and beliefs and how the patient’s thoughts influence current feelings and behaviors. Patients identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts through structured therapy sessions and practice assignments.
• Prolonged Exposure (PE): A cognitive-behavioral treatment that focuses on decreasing symptoms of PTSD by addressing the common causes and treatments in four ways—education about treatment and common reactions to trauma, breathing retraining, in vivo ("in real life”) exposure and imaginal exposure. The therapy allows patients to work through painful memories in a safe and supportive environment and engage with activities they have been avoiding because of the trauma.
• Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy (CBCT): A treatment for couples that combines components of CPT, PE, and couples therapy to treat the symptoms of PTSD. This therapy can be conducted along with Parent Management Training to help couples with children who are also being impacted by the aftermath of the traumatic event.