CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the United States has about eight million adults suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), many of whom are military veterans. In an effort to extend aid to this population, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi hosted a free STRONG STAR Training Initiative on Sept. 13-14, for 28 local counseling professionals to learn how to best assist veterans with PTSD.
“This state-of-the-art training is incredibly important,” said Dr. Stephen Lenz, Associate Professor of Counselor Education at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “Mental health professionals need a firm understanding of the best practices in decreasing the effects of PTSD in order to fully serve those who need them.”
The training focused on cognitive processing therapy, which involves engaging with a traumatic memory rather than avoiding it. The training included two full days of seminars on the Island University campus and six months of follow-up consultation and training.
According to Lenz, the STRONG STAR Training program provides an immediate influx of qualified behavioral health counselors into the Coastal Bend region. These counselors will be skilled in delivering services using the best current practices with veterans who are developing, or who have developed, PTSD symptoms.
“We live in an area where the VA system and other facilities are already strained when meeting local demand for mental health services,” said Lenz. “Through better access to leading PTSD treatments, our local veterans will be able to maintain or resume healthy, productive lives.”
A&M-Corpus Christi was one of seven locations in Texas chosen to host this training due to its geographical location, its involvement with the local public and private mental health provider network and its commitment to community engagement.
The STRONG STAR Training Initiative is made possible by funding from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission through its Texas Veterans and Family Alliance Grant Program and from the Bob Woodruff Foundation.