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Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology: Implications for Disaster and Terrorism Response

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2012

Josef I. Ruzek*
Affiliation:
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Veterans Administration (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, California, USA
Robyn D. Walser
Affiliation:
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Veterans Administration (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, California, USA
Amy E. Naugle
Affiliation:
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA
Brett Litz
Affiliation:
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Boston Veterans Affairs Health Care System, and Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Douglas S. Mennin
Affiliation:
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Melissa A. Polusny
Affiliation:
Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center, and University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Dianna M. Ronell
Affiliation:
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Kenneth J. Ruggiero
Affiliation:
Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Rachel Yehuda
Affiliation:
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Bronx VA Medical Center, Bronx, New York, USA
Joseph R. Scotti
Affiliation:
West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA
*
National Center for PTSDVA Palo Alto Health Care SystemMail Code PTSD 334 MPD795 Willow RoadMenlo Park, CA 94025USA E-mail: josef.ruzek@va.gov

Abstract

Given the personal and societal costs associated with acute impairment and enduring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the mental health response to disasters is an integral component of disaster response planning. The purpose of this paper is to explore the compatibility between cognitive-behavioral psychology and the disaster mental health model, and explicate how cognitivebehavioral perspectives and intervention methods can enhance the effectiveness of disaster mental health services. It is argued that cognitive-behavioral methods, if matched to the contexts of the disaster and the needs of individuals, will improve efforts to prevent the development of PTSD and other trauma-related problems in survivors of disaster or terrorist events. First, the similarities between models of care underlying both disaster mental health services and cognitive-behavioral therapies are described. Second, examples of prior cognitive-behavioral therapy-informed work with persons exposed to disaster and terrorism are provided, potential cognitive-behavioral therapy applications to disaster and terrorism are explored, and implications of cognitive-behavioral therapy for common challenges in disaster mental health is discussed. Finally, steps that can be taken to integrate cognitive-behavioral therapy into disaster mental health are outlined. The aim is to prompt disaster mental health agencies and workers to consider using cognitive-behavioral therapy to improve services and training, and to motivate cognitive-behavioral researchers and practitioners to develop and support disaster mental health response.

Type
Comprehensive Review
Copyright
Copyright © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2008

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