International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

PTSD Prominent at British Conference

Posted 1 January 1998 in StressPoints by William Yule, PhD Contributing editor, Child Trauma

The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy held its 25th Anniversary Conference July 8­12, 1997. From very small beginnings in London, the group has grown to be a multidisciplinary organization that can host a meeting for over 1,000 delegates. Prominent among the subjects considered was PTSD.

Two of the keynote speakers, Edna Foa and Chris Brewin, addressed the topic of treatment and of memory, depression and PTSD respectively. Two symposia were devoted to considerations of clinical aspects of PTSD, as well as implications from current cognitive psychology for both theory and treatment. In addition, there was a debate on false memories. Of equal importance was the meeting's emphasis on examining normal mechanisms of memory, including normal inhibitory processes. Michael Eysenck, Chris Brewin, Andrew Matthews, John Teasdale, Tim Dalgleish and others examined developments in cognitive science and particularly looked at the implications for PTSD.

Those interested in traumatic stress -- and that included a very high proportion of the delegates -- were treated to a feast of thoughtful discussions, as more and more academic clinicians have realized that PTSD provides a natural laboratory for exploring the relationship between emotional reactions and psychopathology. The relevance of current studies in depression, anxiety, panic and worry was made explicit. Models of memory were revisited, and the need to look at traumatic stress reactions beyond the narrow confines of DSM and ICD was emphasized by many contributors.

As more clinical investigators seek to apply Beck-inspired cognitive therapies, the number of treatment sessions seems to increase exponentially, while little attention was paid to rapid treatment approaches, with individual contributions only mentioning EMDR and CISD in passing.

Interest in PTSD, its treatment and theoretical understanding, is alive and well in the United Kingdom.