Psychotherapy Practices for Veterans With PTSD Among Community-Based Providers in Texas

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Abstract

Significant changes in national health policy, like the Veterans Choice Act, have created growing opportunities for veterans to receive care outside of the Veterans Administration (VA), yet little is known about the attitudes and practices in PTSD care of community providers, particularly their use of evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs). The authors assessed psychotherapy practices of community providers serving veterans with PTSD in Texas. They surveyed Texas mental health providers regarding their patient population, practice setting, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-related screening, assessment, and treatment practices. They identified providers from state licensing board rosters and included a stratified sample of social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors (500 each), all psychologists with available email addresses (n = 3,986), and 106 providers known to have completed state-sponsored training for 1 of the EBPs for PTSD, cognitive processing therapy. Four hundred sixty-three eligible respondents returned surveys (15% response rate). Providers reported treating a mean of 7.9 veterans with PTSD in the past year (range = 0–200; SD = 20.5), using a variety of therapeutic approaches for PTSD. Only 15.0% of providers reported regularly conducting psychotherapy for PTSD following a treatment manual, and fewer than half reported any use of EBPs for PTSD with patients. Although many veterans are receiving treatment for PTSD in the community, many community-based mental health providers in Texas do not consistently use recommended treatments for PTSD. These findings may suggest an important opportunity for VA to engage and partner with community providers to achieve high-quality care for veterans.

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