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In the News

National Center for PTSD marks 25th anniversary

Aug. 29, 2014, was the 25th anniversary of the founding of VA's National Center for PTSD. As part of the observances, Dr. Paula Schnurr, the center's acting executive director and one of the members of the team that started the center, published an article in the Huffington Post on the organization's history and accomplishments.

"For the past 25 years," Schnurr writes, "the Center has been the leader in research and education helping those who are living with PTSD." Among the fundamental changes she observed in the last quarter-century has been the recognition that PTSD was a valid diagnosis, not a reflection of problems that had existed in a person prior to trauma. She cited the center's first executive director, Dr. Matthew Friedman, who stated that the center's research and educational initiatives helped establish the scientific basis for PTSD and disseminated that information globally.

Another fundamental change since the center's founding, according to Schnurr, has been the expansion of knowledge about how to treat PTSD. "In 1989," she writes, "few effective treatments had been identified and many clinicians and their patients with PTSD thought that PTSD was a disorder that had to be 'coped with.'" Today, however, there is a range of effective treatment options that can help those with the disorder. "We can say, with conviction, that treatment works," she writes.

Schnurr believes we are probably only at the beginning stages of figuring out how to use technology and social media to help those with PTSD—and that, while basic and clinical science is further developed, there is still much more to learn. "We [at the center] look forward to making even greater progress in promoting understanding and advancing scientific knowledge about PTSD."

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