This page concentrates on research-related trauma resources on the Internet that can be read, joined or searched: on-line databases, a workshop calendar, professional organizations, email discussion lists, and information about effective trauma treatment approaches.
Selected full-text published articles about trauma are available from the Articles page at this site. Several other resources relevant to trauma, disasters, psychology, and neuroscience are available from the Links pages.
Three excellent resources for further exploration on your own are PILOTS, PubMed, and the Dissociation Archive; the first two are online databases allowing free searches, while the Dissociation Archive is a collection of articles published in the Journal Dissociaiton.
PILOTS stands for "Published International Literature On Traumatic Stress". This freely-accessible database is maintained by the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; it includes over 50,000 article citations -- most with abstracts.
Search PILOTS for free access to abstracts of the Published International Literature On Traumatic Stress. [Note: You may need to access PILOTS through a university or other library's account, or via the NC-PTSD site (above), but Help & Support is available from this link.]
If you have Adobe Acrobat's free PDF File Reader browser add-on, then you can also find basic information about the database here; or, retrieve the complete PILOT's User's Guide, or the Instruments Authority List. The PILOT's Authority List identifies all psychometric instruments (assessment scales, or tests) used in studies catalogued in the PILOTS database. You can also search issues of the National Center's PTSD Research Quarterly (including full-text articles).
Search PubMed for free access to MEDLINE abstracts.
PubMed is one of the National Library of Medicine's search services; it provides access to citations in MEDLINE and several related databases, with links to participating online journals. For more advanced searches, including global searches across several databases, search Entrez, instead -- Entrez is the life sciences search engine.
The Dissociation Archive is an online archive of articles and commentary contained in Dissociation. You can search the archive -- or browse for titles, authors, and dates. Published between 1988 and 1997, Dissociation was the official journal of the International Society for the Study of Dissociaton (ISSD). The separate Dissociation and Trauma Archive contains over 50 full-text searchable articles and case studies published in a variety of journals between 1845 and 1920.
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), with headquarters in Northbrook Illinois, is a professional association focused on research and practice in the area of traumatic-stress. Membership and other information is available via the ISTSS web site (click on the link above), or from their email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Society sponsors an annual convention each November, as well as international confereences. ISTSS also sponsors a variety of publications: the quarterly printed Journal of Traumatic Stress, with peer-reviewed articles on biopsychosocial aspects of trauma, as well as a newsletter -- Traumatic StressPoints.
The International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) is a nonprofit professional society that "promotes research and training in the identification and treatment of dissociative disorders, provides professional and public education about dissociative states, and serves as a catalyst for international communication and cooperation among clinicians and researchers working in this field." ISSTD often holds their annual convention nearby and shortly before that of ISTSS. Information about their annual convention is available at their site, as well as psychotherapy training for clinical work with dissociative disorders. ISSD also sponsors the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation.
The Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS) is an international organization for researchers in various disciplines who are interested in the relationship between behavior and health, and in interactions between the nervous system and the immune system. Because I see trauma-related disorders as inherently psychobiological, these intereactions and relationships are relevant and important.
A training and certification program is available for Certified Traumatologists, under the direction of Charles Figley, PhD (now at Tulane University). The Traumatology Institute offers classes for those who assist trauma victims, and awards CEU's for licensed mental health professionals. Membership in the Traumatology Institute is available, by application, to qualified professionals experienced in reducing the distress and emotional trauma of others.
Another annual conference important in the field of Psychological Trauma, the Boston Trauma Conference, is co-sponsored by Dr Bessel van der Kolk's Trauma Center and the University of Boston Medical School.
Dr. Myron Pulier, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, has compiled a searchable Professional Conference & Workshop Database. This general database covers mental health presentations (including, but not limited, to trauma or PTSD) anywhere in the world. [If you are sponsoring or presenting a workshop or training and want to add your conference to this workshop calendar, please use the submission guide.]
The American Psychological Association provides continuing education programs for psychologists and other mental health professionals, some of them online. Additional programs are organized by APA-approved sponsors.
If you're living in the Pacific Northwest -- or hoping to find a workshop here -- the Seattle-based Workshop Calendar lists mental health CE workshops primarily in Washington, Oregon, and California.
A list of peer-reviewed print journals and articles focusing on psychology and social science on the web is maintained by Psycline.
Traumatology, one such electronic journal, is devoted to both clinical and research issues of trauma. Initially edited by Charles Figley, PhD, it began online publication in May 1995 with an aim to greatly reduce the publication lags of traditional printed journals. Beginning in 2004, full-text articles in Traumatology are available for a fee through Sage Publications (unless you subscribe or have access through a university), but abstracts remain free.
The Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, based at Massey University in New Zealand, is a peer-reviewed electronic journal publishing original material on disaster and trauma studies within Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific rim. Coverage includes disaster and trauma mitigation and prevention, response, support, recovery, treatment, policy formulation and planning and their implications at the individual, group, organisational and community level. The Journal is interested in events of natural, technological and human-induced origin and their effects at individual, community, organisational and national levels.
The PTSD Forum, based in Australia, is an online forum aimed at helping PTSD sufferers help themselves through connection with others' experiences, guidance, and education. This supportive group welcomes spouses and families as well as those suffering from PTSD. There are several mental health related forums at PsychCentral, including for dissociative disorders and PTSD.
You may want to search the extensive listings at Yahoo Groups and at Google Groups. Members of the alt.support.trauma-ptsd group (now on Google groups) have written an ASTP-FAQ with more information. [Please note that ASTP is a peer-support group, and not a source for research subjects.]
Additionally, Catalist is an official catalog of over 58,000 public LISTSERV email lists, maintained by L-Soft. In England, Emotional Support Resources offers a search engine to help find support groups on the internet, as well as traditional phone lines. TileNet's Lists provide information and search engines to help you locate additional email discussion lists covering almost any topic of interest. Finally, you can browse the ICORS (Information Center for Online Resources and Services) website for more information about similar resources: http://www/icors.org.
Treating emotional trauma requires the clinician to select a strategic approach:
The most appropriate strategic decision depends on the history, needs and capabilities of each individual patient, as well as the nature of the traumatic event(s). Each strategy involves trade-offs: directly processing core trauma memories promises rapid resolution, providing the client is capable of this, but may exacerbate symptoms if unsuccessful. Building client resources may feel wonderful, but by itself neither deals with -- nor resolves -- trauma issues. Clearly, strategy affects tactics: a clinician's strategic approach affects which treatment approach(es) appear best suited or most fruitful. Clinical approaches often change during treatment, as a client's needs and capabilities evolve.
The goal of trauma treatment is the elimination, or diminution, of flashbacks, nightmares, and other intrusive symptoms, allowing avoidance and arousal symptoms to subside. Gradually, a narrative account of the trauma and its aftermath emerges and assumes a place in one's lifecourse.
While trauma treatment generally involves (some would say requires) re-experiencing and resolving the traumatic experiences, putting them into a context where they remain "in the past", the direct strategy can be problematic in some cases, depending on patient characteristics and the nature and timing of their traumatic experiences.
Fortunately, a variety of psychotherapeutic approaches are available for working with a wide variety of traumatized patients. At the risk of over-generalizing, somatic-based approaches are often used for building client resources, keeping clients in their bodies, and for processing events peripheral to the trauma core. Other approaches, such as EMDR, have been used historically to directly process memories of a traumatic event. Since I've had training in many trauma-specific treatment methods, selecting appropriate treatment approaches depends primarily on client needs and goals. Medications can sometimes be useful as an adjunct to psychotherapy, but are generally not the primary or sole recommended treatment for most with PTSD.
Several organizations and some individuals have compiled extensive and very detailed treatment guidelines for working with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related issues including acute stress disorder (ASD) or dissociation (e.g., DID; DDNOS). These guides may be very helpful for some clinicians working with challenging clients in this area. A collection of PTSD treatment guides is available at this site. Additional treatment guidelines focused on disaster mental health are listed on this site's Disaster page.
Some effective approaches to trauma treatment, such as Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing (or SE) method, utilize awareness of somatic (body) sensations and have been described as "Body - or Somatic Psychotherapy". You can search for a trained SE practitioner by visiting the SE Practitioners Registry on Peter Levine's website. [For additional somatic awareness approaches, see: Pat Ogden's Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Bill Bowen's Psycho-Physical Therapy, and the USA Bodynamics site, among others.]
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (or EMDR), is a clinical method that appears to offer rapid and very effective relief, especially for one of the most difficult parts of trauma work: the intrusive re-experiencing of traumatic incident(s). A searchable listing of EMDR-trained clinicians is available from the EMDR Institute.
I was trained in EMDR in June and August 1991 by its originator, Francine Shapiro PhD, and have used this procedure with many trauma patients and with very good results since then. For ten years, from 1992-2002, Jesse Rappaport, LCSW and I conducted a monthly study group for local clinicians who had taken some training in this method. Additionally, Jesse and I both assisted at EMDR trainings in the Pacific Northwest, and I sponsored several EMDR trainings in Oregon. In June 1995, I presented at the Annual EMDR Conference on the use of single case designs to overcome some methodological problems in psychotherapy treatment outcome research with trauma populations.
You can search the Francine Shapiro EMDR Library for scholarly article and other important writings about EMDR. The purpose of this library is to provide information for clinicians, researchers, and lay people on the efficacy of EMDR for a wide range of mental health issues. Additional information about the library is available here.
A separate EMDR bibliography, here, lists over 400 EMDR journal articles about this procedure, covering its first sixteen years. The listed publications occurred from 1989 through 2005. I maintained this list, which was last updated in May 2006. The listing does not select for either "pro-" or "con-" research papers; it includes research reports and case studies, but excludes popular articles, dissertations, or presentations, as well as book chapters, comments, most letters, and the like. Citations are sorted by year, and a link is provided to abstracts available in the PILOTS online database. [Note: Since PILOTS uses slightly different selection guidelines, the PILOTS abstracts do not coincide exactly with my article list.] Note that I am no longer maintaining or updating this list.
Additional non-pharmacological individual, group, and debriefing approaches to trauma have been developed independently by various clinicians. Some of these methods have roots in applied kinesiology or Chinese medicine and are characterized as "Energy Psychology", while others derive from spiritual roots. Yet more treatments incorporate alternative approaches, sometimes within a complex assessment framework.
For the most part, you'll find links to descriptions of somatic, energy-based, and other innovative psychotherapy approaches collected on the Support Page. I would be happy to add links to web pages giving more information about several relatively new clinical methods that may be useful in treating traumatic-stress -- CISD, TIR, TFT, EFT, and the counting method, are just a few such examples. After many years of relatively little optimism for brief and effective trauma treatment, new tools raise hopes and the need for research focused on efficacy and commonalities across these methods.