Early Interventions SIG
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Early Interventions SIG

  • Convene meetings at ISTSS Annual Conferences, and arrange presentations and/or workshops at those meetings;
  • Gather information about current developments in and publications related to early intervention;
  • Facilitate networking and collaboration among interested ISTSS members, by establishing an email list; and
  • Generally, promote study, development, and application of effective early interventions to prevent development of PTSD and other trauma-related problems.

Brief Background and Rationale

Although most human service professionals believe in the importance of early intervention post-trauma to prevent development of chronic psychological problems, there is little agreement as to the appropriate forms of care. A range of psychological interventions has been advocated for use with various traumatized populations within days or weeks of their trauma exposure, including education about trauma and stress reactions, training in stress-management, critical incident stress debriefing (CISD), cognitive-behavioral brief intervention packages, EMDR, and psychopharmacological interventions. Currently, prospective research studying response to trauma and beginning within hours or days of the traumatic event is increasing rapidly, and a number of recent publications have suggested the potential utility of early interventions in preventing development of PTSD (e.g., Foa, Hearst-Ikeda, & Perry, 1995; Bryant, Harvey, Dang, Sackville, & Basten, 1998). Recent support for such interventions is occurring at the same time that the utility of debriefing procedures is being subjected to increased scrutiny (ISTSS Practice Guidelines on Acute Intervention and Debriefing; Raphael, Meldrum, & McFarlane, 1995; Rose & Bisson, 1998). These developments are relevant for clinicians, educators, researchers, and administrators and policy-makers.


Josef I. Ruzek, PhD
National Center for PTSD
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
795 Willow Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Phone: (650) 493-5000 x22977

Patricia Watson, PhD
National Center for PTSD
VA Medical & Regional Office Ctr
White River Junction, VT 05009
Phone: (802) 295-9363 x6071
Fax: (802) 296-5135


Posted on Description

New Book on Acute Stress Disorder: For a good look at the current state of thinking about the management of acute stress disorder, see Acute stress disorder: A handbook of theory, assessment, and treatment , written by Richard Bryant and Allison Harvey (American Psychological Association press, 2000). This text includes helpful sections on theory, diagnosis, assessment tools, and legal issues related to ASD. The authors provide a comprehensive review of research examining the disorder, and their sections on treatment describe in great detail ? with therapist-patient transcripts ? the application of their empirically-supported methods of treating ASD and preventing development of PTSD.
Buy Acute Stress Disorder: A Handbook of Theory, Assessment, and Treatment.

Key Publications Related to Early Intervention

In addition to the publications below, a Word document is available for download listing additional resources related to early interventions. Please send additional suggestions for relevant books and articles to Sandra Schatz at sschatz@usd.edu.

Posted on Description

Bisson, Jonathan I.
Is post-traumatic stress disorder preventable? [editorial].
Source: Journal of Mental Health (ISSN: 0963-8237), v. 6, no. 2, pp. 109-111 (April 1997).


Bryant, Richard A; Harvey, Allison Gay; Dang, Suzanne T; Sackville, Tanya; Basten, Chris.
Treatment of acute stress disorder: a comparison of cognitive- behavioral therapy and supportive counseling . Source: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, v. 66, no. 5, pp. 862-866 (October 1998).


Bryant, Richard A; Sackville, Tanya; Dang, Suzanne T; Moulds, Michelle; Guthrie, Rachel
Treating acute stress disorder: an evaluation of cognitive behavior therapy and supportive counseling techniques
American Journal of Psychiatry, November, 1999.


Burkle, Frederick M.
Title: Acute-phase mental health consequences of disasters: implications for triage and emergency medical services.
Source: Annals of Emergency Medicine (ISSN: 0196-0644), v. 28, no. 2, pp. 119-128 (August 1996).


Ford, Julian D; Chandler, Patricia; Thacker, Barbara G; Greaves, David; Shaw, David; Sennhauser, Shirley; Schwartz, Lawrence.
Family systems therapy after Operation Desert Storm with European-theater veterans.
Source: Journal of Marital and Family Therapy (ISSN: 0194-472X), v. 24, no. 2, pp. 243-250 (April 1998).


Jenkins, Sharon Rae.
Social support and debriefing efficacy among emergency medical workers after a mass shooting incident. Source: Journal of Social Behavior and Personality (ISSN: 0886-1641), v. 11, no. 3, pp. 477-492 (September 1996).


Kudler, Harold S; Davidson, Jonathan R T.
General principles of biological intervention following trauma.
Source: Freedy, John R; Hobfoll, Stevan E (ed.). Traumatic stress: from theory to practice, pp. 73-101. New York: Plenum Press, 1995. (ISBN: 0-306-45020-8) (Plenum series on stress and coping.


Lundin, Tom.
The treatment of acute trauma: post-traumatic stress disorder prevention.
Source: Psychiatric Clinics of North America (ISSN: 0193-953X), v. 17, no. 2, pp. 385-391 (June 1994).


Mellman, Thomas A; Byers, Patricia M; Augenstein, Jeffrey S.
Pilot evaluation of hypnotic medication during acute traumatic stress response .
Source: Journal of Traumatic Stress (ISSN: 0894-9867), v. 11, no. 3, pp. 563-569 (July 1998).


Osterman, Janet E; Chemtob, Claude M.
Emergency intervention for acute traumatic stress.
Source: Psychiatric Services (ISSN: 1075-2730), v. 50, no. 6, pp. 739-740 (June 1999).


Parson, Erwin Randolph.
Mass traumatic terror in Oklahoma City and the phases of adaptational coping, part II: integration of cognitive, behavioral, dynamic, existential and pharmacologic interventions.
Source: Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy (ISSN: 0022-0116), v. 25, no. 4, pp. 267-309 (Winter 1995).


: Rose, Suzanna; Bisson, Jonathan I.
Brief early psychological interventions following trauma: a systematic review of the literature.
Source: Journal of Traumatic Stress (ISSN: 0894-9867), v. 11, no. 4, pp. 697-710 (October 1998).


Solomon, Susan D.
Interventions for acute trauma response.
Source: Current Opinion in Psychiatry (ISSN: 0951-7367), v. 12, pp. 175-180 (1999).


Turnbull, Gordon J; McFarlane, Alexander Cowell. Title: Acute treatments.
Source: Van der Kolk, Bessel A; McFarlane, Alexander Cowell; Weisaeth, Lars (ed.). Traumatic stress: the effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society, pp. 480-490. New York: Guilford Press, 1996. (ISBN: 1-57230-088-4).


Ursano, Robert Joseph; Fullerton, Carol S; Norwood, Ann E.
Psychiatric dimensions of disaster: patient care, community consultation, and preventive medicine.
Source: Harvard Review of Psychiatry (ISSN: 1067-3229), v. 3, no. 4, pp. 196-209 (November-December 1995).

Links & Resources

Links or pointers connecting the Early Interventions SIG website with other Internet sites are provided as a courtesy only. The Early Intervention SIG assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of content contained in any linked site or for the compliance with applicable laws of such linked sites. The content of any linked site does not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards, or policies of ISTSS.

Posted on Description

National Center for PTSD: The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder mission is: To advance the clinical care and social welfare of America's veterans through research, education, and training in the science, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD and stress-related disorders. This website is provided as an educational resource concerning PTSD and other enduring consequences of traumatic stress. Website includes online fact sheets for the public and for professionals, articles, and website links.



International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc.: International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit, open membership foundation dedicated to the prevention and mitigation of disabling stress through the provision of: Education, training and support services for all Emergency Services professions; Continuing education and training in Emergency Mental Health Services for the Mental Health Community; and Consultation in the establishment of Crisis and Disaster Response Programs for varied organizations and communities worldwide.



Research Education in Disaster Mental Health (REDMH): Research Education in Disaster Mental Health (REDMH), funded by the National Institute of Mental Health in July 2003, strives to improve the quality and utility of disaster mental health research so that victims of disasters are better understood and served. The educational goals of REDMH are to inform, instruct, advise, and mentor disaster researchers. On this site you will find research summaries to inform the scientific community about topics salient after major disasters, instructional materials such as summaries from a book on research education in disaster mental health, contact information for those looking for advising on a particular project, and information about a mentoring program for promising newcomers to the field.



Project Liberty: Project Liberty, which was created in 2001 to provide supportive crisis counseling to individuals and groups affected by the World Trade Center disaster, has phased down operations. This web site has been redesigned primarily to link individuals and groups to services that will help them to continue to cope with the aftereffects of the World Trade Center disaster.



Deployment Health Clinical Center:The Center core mission is to improve deployment health care by providing caring assistance and advocacy for military personnel and families with post deployment health concerns while simultaneously serving as a catalyst and resource for the continuous improvement of deployment health care across the Military Health System.



National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN): Treatment centers from all over the United States have come together to form a new coalition, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). The Network, which is currently comprised of 54 centers, is being funded by the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services through a Congressional initiative, the Donald J. Cohen National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. This Congressional initiative recognizes the profound, destructive, and widespread impact of trauma on American children's lives. Its purpose is to improve the quality, effectiveness, provision, and availability of therapeutic services delivered to all children and adolescents experiencing traumatic events. The Network will develop and disseminate effective, evidence-based treatments; collect data for systematic study; and help to educate professionals and the public about the effects of trauma on children.



VA-Department of Defense Clinical Practice Guideline:: This set of recommendations includes guidance for the management of Acute Post-Trauma Stress in the early days after exposure to trauma in civilian (ASR) and in combat or ongoing military operations. Each module includes criteria useful to identify persons with stress reactions who have a greater probability of developing PTSD and who therefore would benefit from early brief intervention. The management of ASD and PTSD in primary care and mental health specialties includes recommendations for pharmacology and psychotherapy intervention



Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: The Center is working to increase knowledge of the consequences of trauma and disaster and to apply this knowledge to helping people cope with traumatic events. The Center provides education, consultation and training to the U.S. and its communities on the effects of trauma and disaster and individual and organizational recovery following these events while maintaining a wide-ranging, vigorous research program to extend our knowledge of the consequences of event-related stress.



This Events section represents an effort to provide members with up-to-date information about current conferences and events relating to Early Intervention.

Members are encouraged to submit information on upcoming events to be posted on the site. Until further notice, please send event information to Joe Ruzek at Josef.Ruzek@med.va.gov. Please include the name of the event, a brief description (no more than 2 sentences), a link to additional information or a way for members to request additional information, dates/times, location, fees, and continuing education information. This section will be as robust as our members make it, so please be sure to forward information as you become aware of it.

Note: Posting of events in this section does not imply endorsement by the ISTSS Early Intervention SIG. All submissions falling within relevance parameters are accepted. Relevance parameters include direct relation to Early Intervention developments, treatments, trainings, research, and theory.

Upcoming Events

Disaster Mental Health Institute
Innovations in Disaster Mental Health
September 7-9, 2006
Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
Innovations in disaster mental health

Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
Linking Research Knowledge with Policy and Practice:
Evidence for Best Practice in Traumatic Stress
September 14-16, 2006
?Adelaide, Australia

2006 Rocky Mountain Region Annual Disaster Mental Health Conference
Taking Charge in Troubled Times:
Response, Resilience, Recovery and Follow-Up
November 8-11, 2006
Casper, Whyoming, USA

Forum and Listserv Information

To join the Early Interventions SIG e-mail forum and listserv, visit the ISTSS Forums Site

Disclaimer for the Forum

The information, opinions, and recommendations presented on the Fourm are for general information only and should not be construed as advice or as approved interventions, nor does ISTSS endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, medication, process, method of treatment, service, or organization presented or mentioned on the Forum.

The Early Interventions SIG makes no warranty, representation, or guarantee as to the accuracy or completeness of the information posted on the Forum. The SIG assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with the reference to, reliance on, or use or misuse of such information.

The Early Interventions SIG does not actively monitor Forum postings, and does not undertake editorial control of postings. Nevertheless, the Early Interventions SIG retains the right to monitor posted information and remove messages or materials that it believes are not in the best interests of ISTSS.