Cognitive Behavior Therapy is Effective for Sleep Disturbances in US Military Vets

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) may improve sleep and reduce daytime PTSD symptoms among military veterans. The current study compared Prazosin (a pharmacological treatment for sleep disturbance) versus a CBT sleep intervention against a placebo control. Fifty US military veterans were randomly assigned to either the Prazosin group (n = 18), the CBT group (n = 17), or the placebo group (n = 15). Both active groups (Prazosin and CBT) showed greater reductions in insomnia and daytime PTSD symptom severity. Overall sleep improvements were noted in 61.9% of those who completed the active treatments and 25% of those in the placebo group. These results suggest that both pharmacological and CBT interventions may improve sleep and reduce PTSD symptoms among military veterans.

Germain, A., Richardson, R., Moul, D. E., Mammen, O., Haas, G., Forman, S. D., Rode, N., … Nofzinger, E. A. (2012). Placebo-controlled comparison of prazosin and cognitive-behavioral treatments for sleep disturbances in US Military Veterans. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 72, 2, 89-96.

VA-Treated Patients Respond Positively to PTSD Treatment

According to a recent meta-analytic review published in Psychological Reports, VA-treated patients respond more positively to PTSD treatment and fare better (66% in the current review) than patients in non-VA control conditions. Twenty-four PTSD studies were selected for inclusion; each study was classified into four treatment categories: (1) exposure-based studies, (2) other cognitive behavioral studies, (3) inpatient studies, and (4) miscellaneous treatment. Of the four treatment categories, exposure-based treatment had the highest within-group effect size. These findings are encouraging for patients with PTSD who seek treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Goodson, J., Helstrom, A., Halpern, J.M., Ferenchak, M.P., Gillihan, S.J., & Powers, M.B., (2011). Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in U.S. combat veterans: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Reports, 109, 573-599.

Therapist adherence to manualized cognitive-behavioral therapy for anger management delivered to veterans with PTSD via videoconferencing

It is important that veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have access to evidence-based treatment (EBT). A significant number (40%) of military service members leaving active duty return to rural or remote areas where access to EBT and specialized PTSD treatment is often limited or unavailable. To overcome this obstacle, the use of video conferencing is becoming a more widespread and acceptable method of providing therapy to those living in areas with limited access to EBT.

While research indicates that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for PTSD, there are few studies that examine outcomes of group CBT with veterans.  In the current study, Morland et al. compared therapist adherence to manualized cognitive-behavioral anger management group treatment (AMT) between therapy delivered via video conference (VC) and the traditional in-person modality. The researchers also compared the equivalency of cognitive-behavioral anger management group therapy delivered via VC and the same therapy delivered in-person.

The results of this study indicate that utilizing video conferencing did not affect therapists’ adherence to CBT anger management group therapy. This study provides support for the utility of video conferencing as a method for delivering effective therapy to veterans. It also identifies video-conferencing as a potential gateway to evidence-based CBT for veterans and service members returning to remote areas following deployment. These findings encourage future research on the effectiveness of video conferencing among different populations and EBTs.

Morland, L.A., Greene, C.J., Grubbs, K., Kloezeman, K., Mackintosh, M., Rosen, C., et al. (2011). Therapist Adherence to Manualized Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anger Management Delivered to Veterans with PTSD via Videoconferencing. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67, 629-638.

Beck Spotlight on Antonette Zeiss

At a 90th birthday party for Dr. Aaron Beck, given by Pearson Assessment at the American Psychological Association annual conference in Washington, D.C., we had the opportunity to catch up with our colleague, Dr. Antonette Zeiss, Ph.D., whom we have known for many years. We are so pleased that she, a very prominent cognitive behavior therapist, has been appointed to be Chief Consultant for the Office of Mental Health Services, in the Veterans Health Administration at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Dr. Zeiss was already the highest ranking psychologist in the VA, and is now the first psychologist, and first woman, to hold the role of Chief Consultant.

In 2007, Dr. Zeiss received an American Psychological Association (APA) Presidential Citation recognizing her leadership contributions both in APA and the VA. And last year, Dr. Zeiss won a Distinguished Career Award from the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders for her continued efforts to improve mental health services.

We applaud Dr. Zeiss’s accomplishments in the field of psychology and cognitive behavior therapy, and we appreciate the efforts of the tens of thousands of health and mental health professionals who treat active duty and veteran military service members and their families. To learn more about a scholarship initiative to help train these professionals in cognitive behavior therapy please visit

First Ever Specialty Topic Workshop at Beck Institute

SEPTEMBER 2011: This week Beck Institute held its first ever Specialty Workshop: Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Active Duty and Veteran Military and their Families. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, military service members, VA Hospital therapists and other professionals traveled from 23 states to receive training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

Participants received professional training from Aaron T. Beck, M.D., Judith S. Beck, Ph.D., and David Riggs, Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.  Dr. Riggs discussed special issues in the subculture of active duty and veteran military and their families including: characteristics of the military culture; stressors that impact these groups at all levels of the deployment cycle; and special issues related to combat deployment.

CBT Techniques

Dr. Judith Beck discussed techniques CBT of depression for military service members, veterans, and their families. Dr. Beck’s lectures and role-plays emphasized the need for the therapeutic alliance, setting goals, structuring sessions, and therapist-patient collaboration.

CBT Demonstration

One of the highlights of the workshop was watching Dr. Aaron Beck (left) conduct a role-play session with a workshop participant.  Dr. Beck started the session with a mood check and followed with setting the agenda.   Dr. Beck led a case discussion with workshop participants (see video clip below):

What helped Dr. Beck develop Cognitive Therapy? (Students Ask Dr. Beck – PART THREE)

Dr. Aaron Beck explains how his curiosity and scientific nature led him to develop Cognitive Therapy. He also explains the first outcome study of cognitive therapy which he conducted with Dr. John Rush. Please enjoy the third video of this unique series: