Title

Combining Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with Prolonged Exposure in the Treatment of Combat Veterans with PTSD: A Research Proposal

Date of Award

6-1-2009

Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name

Psy.D.

Department

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

John McNeill, Psy.D.

First Committee Member

Chad Emrick, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

James Gallagher, Psy.D.

Keywords

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Veteran

Abstract

Post traumatic stress disorder is a prevalent and socially relevant problem in the Veteran Administrations (VA) hospitals. Combat veterans are over two times more likely to develop PTSD than the average citizen. PTSD is also associated with many other problems including depression, substance dependence, suicide ideation and relationship/work difficulties. PTSD symptoms come about when a traumatic event occurs in a person's life, bringing with it a sense of intense fear, helplessness or horror. Cues in the environment provide the conditions which occasion fear and subsequent avoidance-based responding. Behavioral avoidance of these cues intensifies and prolongs the PTSD symptoms via negative reinforcement functions. Prolonged exposure therapy has been deemed to be the most effective program in treating PTSD. However, there are some limitations to the procedures, including a fairly high dropout rate. While Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has shown promise for anxiety disorders, limited data are available for its treatment of PTSD. This paper will review literature on exposure-based interventions for PTSD and present a research proposal to examine the utility of combining Prolonged Exposure and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD.

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