Center for Deployment Psychology Update -- April 2010

The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) is a tri-service center training psychologists, psychology interns and residents, and other health professionals from the Army, Air Force and Navy, as well as civilian professionals, to provide high quality deployment-related behavioral health services to military personnel and their families.

A Victory for APA Education Directorate

The CDP represents a tremendous triumph for the APA Education Directorate. In November 2007 the CDP was incorporated into the Department of Defense (DoD) Center of Excellence to be the military arm for training health professionals to meet the mental health needs of active duty forces veterans, and their families. As part of the DoD Center of Excellence, the CDP received $2 million from DCoE and a $1 million Congressional appropriation for FY 2008. . It has been cited as an exemplary program by a number of official reports, including the DoD Mental Health Task Force Report, An Achievable Vision: Report of the DoD Mental Health Task Force (June 2007), and the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (July 2007). Having trained thousands of military and civilian mental health professionals domestically and internationally over the past 3 years, the CDP is a significant accomplishment for which the APA Education community can be especially proud.

The CDP was established in FY 2006 with $3.4 million from Representative Bill Young (R-FL), Chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. This was the result of successful advocacy by the APA Education Government Relations Office and APA Member, Herbert Goldstein, PhD. Instrumental in planning were Drs. Vicki Ingram and Bruce Crow from the Army, Dr. Jim Farvet from the Air Force and Dr. Morgan Sammons from the Navy, Dr. David Krantz of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) and a number of their colleagues. Dr. David Riggs, the CDP Director, has played a critical role in its effective implementation.

Structure of the CDP

The CDP coordinates activities across a network of military training sites at 10 regional Department of Defense health facilities nationwide. Designed as a “hub-and-spoke” structure, the CDP is headquartered at the USUHS in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition to the personnel located at USUHS, the CDP houses one Deployment Behavioral Health Psychologist (DBHP) at each of these military training sites, all of which offer an APA-accredited Psychology Internship Program.

Stellar Achievements

Since its inception, the CDP has provided lectures, seminars and workshops to more than 10,000 providers across 21 U.S. states, England, Germany and Japan, as well as launched five online workshops in the past two years. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

More specifically, as of April 2010, over 500 mental health providers have completed one of 16 iterations of the two-week “Topics in Deployment Psychology” training course. The majority of these participants have been active duty military providers (including psychology and social work interns). Topics covered in this course include the deployment experiences of service members and clinicians, the etiology and treatment of PTSD, care for military personnel with traumatic brain injuries, the impact of the deployment cycle of families, and provider resilience.

To provide training to civilian providers who are often unable to attend the two-week Topics in Deployment Psychology course, the CDP developed a one-week version of the course called, Addressing the Psychological Health of Warriors and Their Families: PTSD, Depression and TBI.. As of April 2010, the CDP has conducted 12 one-week courses in which approximately 1,000 professionals were trained. Indicators suggest that these participants are extremely pleased with this training and are learning the content provided.

CDP-trained providers tend to use modified versions of the CDP-style treatments to successfully treat personnel in deployed settings. In fact, of the 3,000 providers trained to use evidence-based treatment for PTSD, 75% of military and 50% of civilian providers have implemented Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) or Cognitive Processing therapy (CPT). Moreover, CDP-based training increased providers’ knowledge test scores by 50%, and about 85% of trainees reported that the CDP was “very effective” for their patients with PTSD.

A Bright Future

Continued funding for the CDP will allow for the continuation of education and training efforts already underway, plus the initiation of additional activities, such as increasing community outreach and tailoring workshops to civilian providers located in pockets of the country greatest impacted by deployments, developing resources to sustain a peer support and consultation system, increasing delivery of materials and information via internet and other communication technologies, and identifying a knowledge base of best practices in the care of deployment-related problems among military personnel and their families. Please visit the CDP website for further details on the program and for a schedule of upcoming one- and two-week courses and other seminars and workshops.