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Psychiatr Serv. 2006 Jul;57(7):1027-31.

Clinicians' perspectives on cognitive-behavioral treatment for PTSD among persons with severe mental illness.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, 67 President Street, P.O. Box 250861, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.



As an intermediate step in the development of a cognitive-behavioral posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment program for persons with severe mental illness, a focus group gathered feedback from clinicians and clinical supervisors within a public-sector mental health system.


Five qualitative focus group discussions were held with 33 clinicians and clinical supervisors within a state-funded community mental health center system.


Clinicians perceived trauma to be a significant adverse factor in the lives of their mental health services consumers, were reluctant to address trauma with them, and yet believed that cognitive-behavioral treatments for PTSD may be effective and appropriate for them. Clinicians also offered practical suggestions to improve the feasibility and acceptability of the proposed cognitive-behavioral treatment program. Examples include creating gender-specific treatment groups; ensuring that trust and rapport with clients are established before the discussion of traumatic experiences; developing careful safety precautions for clients, especially for the exposure therapy component; preparing for the possibility that some consumers will lack the cognitive ability to understand treatment; and collaborating with other care providers to ensure optimal integration with other aspects of care and minimize clinic disruptions.


These findings provide information relevant to the development and implementation of PTSD interventions for patients with severe mental illness treated in public-sector settings.

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