COVID and the events of the last year have taken a tremendous toll on the health and well- being of many individuals. Exposure to trauma has unfortunately now become a widespread phenomenon, with prospective research studies indicating that symptoms of acute stress are almost universal in the immediate aftermath of significant trauma.
Many individuals exposed to trauma over this past year are expected to develop symptoms of an Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) including reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal related to aspects of the trauma they suffered. Given this reality, it is critical that we make every effort to ensure that these symptoms diminish over time and prevent the potential development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can be a sustained, debilitating disorder. Individuals with PTSD are at increased risk for physical health problems and PTSD is also associated with significant impairments across a variety of domains including work and personal relationships.
The current high rates of trauma exposure stemming from the pandemic, along with the negative impact and cost of PTSD to both individuals and society, highlight the need for secondary prevention programs that can alleviate normal trauma reactions and decrease rates of PTSD. Many such prevention approaches have been designed and tested over the years, with the goal of diminishing the negative impact of trauma by providing essential information about the trauma experience itself, traumatic stress reactions and coping strategies that can reduce subsequent anxiety and avoidance.
Overall, research suggests that providing cognitive-behavioral skills and training for anxiety management within the first weeks or months after a trauma exposure, including components involving the recollection and sharing of traumatic experiences, can help to significantly reduce the symptoms of ASD and possibly prevent the onset of PTSD
Our team at the Center for Trauma and Stress Education has developed a unique curriculum, incorporating education, exposure and skills training and designed to specifically provide the tools and supports necessary to address the stress and trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as vaccines are being administered to prevent the spread of COVID-19, our COVID Stress & Trauma Education Programs (STEP) can be administered to help prevent the spread of stress reactions, social isolation and the limited functioning that has become prevalent in the aftermath of the past year’s traumas.
C-STEP groups can be held online, are free of charge to participants, include six sessions 60-90 minutes each, and can include up to 10 participants per group.
We hope you will take advantage of this important program so that we can work together to lessen the psychological impact of COVID-19 and return to more healthy, productive lifestyles.
For more information about our programs, and to contact the CTSE team, please visit us at: https://www.ctseprograms.org/