$3.5 million psychology grant

Deborah C. Beidel, Professor and Director, Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at UCF, has received a 3.5 million dollar grant to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war.

Beidel will conduct research for three years examining a treatment known as trauma management therapy.

“This is a groundbreaking project that will advance our understanding of effective therapies and provides an important service to our veterans,” said Robert Dipboye, the Chair of Psychology at UCF, in an e-mail announcing the award. “It is a major achievement for the Clinical Ph. D. program at UCF and the department.”

Among returning veterans, up to 18.5% are diagnosed with PTSD but there are few interventions that are effective for treating this condition.

According to Beidel, “our intervention combines exposure therapy, currently the only empirically support treatment with a social and emotional rehabilitation component designed to help the veterans return to their former lives. In this case, our exposure therapy makes use of virtual reality, to provide veterans with the highest quality experience. If our program is effective, we will have a treatment that can be used by VA and non-VA facilities throughout the country.”

The project will integrate clinical and neurobiological assessment studies designed to understand the role of these factors in PTSD. In a two site prospective randomized clinical trial, Beidel will test the superiority of Trauma Management Therapy for veterans with PTSD compared to exposure therapy plus psychoeducational group therapy.

In addition to clinical, process, and cost outcomes relevant to PTSD for this population, she will include fMRI assessment of the central olfactory system in order to document its hypothesized role in fear acquisition and maintenance. Relevant outcome domains will be reassessed at midtreatment, posttreatment, and 3- and 6-month follow-up.

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