Direct Support Professionals Working with Veterans and People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Raffaele, John | The Exceptional Parent, November 2018 | Go to article overview

Direct Support Professionals Working with Veterans and People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Raffaele, John, The Exceptional Parent


After World War I, American soldiers came back home with a new and strange "affliction." It was called "shell shock." Before Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was developed as a diagnostic category in the 1960's and 70's, the psychiatric and helping community assisted soldiers who suffered from shell shock. It included symptoms that ranged from panic, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, suicide, homicide and many other frightening things.

The cause of shell shock included exposure to violence, death and other catastrophic elements. Current psychology and medicine understands much more about PTSD and there are many more avenues for treatment and therapy. There are many US Military Veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD and utilize support from many different types of professionals.

Direct Support Professionals who work with people that experience PTSD utilize a series of competencies to help mitigate and lessen their symptoms. Direct Support Professionals also help PTSD sufferers develop coping strategies in daily activities of living. The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) has a validated set of 15 competencies which are used in direct support practice cross-sector. Three of these competencies are directly linked to supporting those with PTSD.

Assessment is the first competency that must be utilized to strategize best ways to support someone with PTSD. The direct support professional should be knowledgeable about formal and informal assessment practices to respond to the needs, desires and interests of the people with PTSD. They initiate or assist in the initiation of an assessment process by gathering information (e.g., person's self-assessment and history, prior records, test results, additional evaluation) and informing the person supported about what to expect throughout the assessment process. The direct support professional conducts or arranges for assessments to determine the needs, preferences, and capabilities of people supported by using appropriate assessment tools and strategies, reviewing the process for inconsistencies, and making corrections as necessary. Lastly, the direct support professional discusses findings and recommendations with the person who has PTSD in a clear and understandable manner, following up on results and reevaluating the findings as necessary.

All too often people with PTSD are involved in crisis situations. They and their families are frequently visited by law enforcement and other emergency/crisis teams. …

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Direct Support Professionals Working with Veterans and People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
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