Videoteleconferencing matches in-person treatment for Veterans with PTSD
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) has been found effective for Veterans with PTSD. In the course of 12 sessions with a therapist, Veterans receive education about PTSD symptoms and the changes in thoughts and beliefs that people commonly experience after a trauma They also learn to become more aware of their own thoughts and feelings, and gain skills to help them question or challenge those thoughts.
Many Veterans with PTSD live in rural areas and have limited access to this type of specialized therapy. Researchers at VA's Honolulu medical center, associated with VA's National Center for PTSD, looked at 125 Veterans with combat-related PTSD who lived on four Hawaiian Islands. Between 2009 and 2013, 61 of these Veterans received the 12-session CPT program via videoteleconferencing, and 64 travelled to outpatient clinics in Hawaii to receive CPT in person.
The severity of the Veterans' PTSD was assessed at the beginning of treatment, at the halfway point of the sessions, at the end of treatment, and three and six months after treatment was completed. The research team found that the outcomes of the treatment were as good as those of in-person treatment. They concluded that videoteleconferencing is a safe and effective way to increase access to specialty mental health care such as CPT for residents of rural or remote areas. (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, May 2014)