Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) October 2007 Update

As the number and duration of military deployments increase, so do the behavioral health difficulties experienced by service members and their families. The aim of the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) is to prepare mental health professionals to better meet the deployment-related mental health needs of military personnel and their family members. The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) is an innovative Department of Defense psychology training consortium established in the FY 2006 Defense Appropriations Bill. The CDP is a tri-service center training psychologists, psychology interns/residents, and other behavioral health professionals from the Army, Navy and Air Force as well as civilian professional to provide high quality deployment-related behavioral health services to military personnel and their families.

Structure of the CDP

The CDP coordinates activities across a network of military internship training sites at 10 regional Department of Defense health facilities nationwide. Designed as a “hub-and-spoke” structure, the CDP is headquartered at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition to the personnel located at USUHS, the CDP houses one Deployment Behavioral Health Psychologist (DBHP) at each of the ten Military Medical Centers that house APA-accredited Psychology Internship programs (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Participating Training Sites

Uniformed Services University
Bethesda , MD

Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Washington , DC

Brooke Army Medical Center
Fort Sam Houston, TX

Eisenhower Army Medical Center
Fort Gordon , GA  

Madigan Army Medical Center
Tacoma , WA

Tripler Army Medical Center
Honolulu , HI

National Naval Medical Center
Bethesda , MD

Naval Medical Center, San Diego
San Diego , CA

Wilford Hall Medical Center
Lackland AFB, TX 

Malcolm Grow Medical Center
Andrews AFB, MD 

Wright-Patterson Medical Center
WPAFB, Ohio

Training Programs

The core of the CDP training efforts is a 2-week long intensive training course that is held four to six times per year at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), training approximately 25 professionals at each session. The CDP kicked off its training curriculum in January 2007 with its first two-week training course that examined all aspects of the deployment lifecycle and the impact of deployment on the service member and his or her family. Participants had the opportunity to learn from military and civilian experts in the fields of trauma, physical medicine, neuropsychology, and military medicine.

Two-Week Intensive Training Course

As described above, the core training effort of the CDP is a two-week intensive training course titled Topics in Deployment Psychology. Through a combination of didactic and experiential modules, participants who attend this course learn about the cycle of military deployment, and the impact of deployment on the service member and his or her family.

The course is divided into four modules focusing on:

  • The cycle of deployment (pre-deployment, experience in theater, re-deployment to home or demobilization area) and the deployment experience of service members and military mental health care providers

  • The cycle of deployment (pre-deployment, experience in theater, re-deployment to home or demobilization area) and the deployment experience of service members and military mental health care providers

  • The emotional impact of trauma including the assessment and treatment of PTSD

  • Care for the emotional needs of seriously medically injured service members

  • The effect of deployment on family members.

Participants have the opportunity to:

  • Learn from internationally recognized experts in the fields of trauma, neuropsychology, and military medicine

  • Hear first-hand accounts from military mental health professionals about the challenges and rewards of providing care in forward operating areas.

  • Learn about current approaches to deployment medicine and mental health

  • Hear about recent research finding on the long-term impact of military deployment on mental health including the incidence and prevalence of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • Learn evidence-based approaches for assessing and treating PTSD.

  • Learn to provide care to severely injured military personnel from expert clinicians and researchers in the areas of traumatic brain injury and amputee care.

  • Learn to identify and address the need of military families throughout the deployment cycle (pre-deployment, during deployment, upon reunion, preparing for additional deployments)

  • Address the unique issues faced by reservists and National Guard troops who leave civilian occupations to deploy for long periods of time and must return to a civilian setting.

Workshops

To augment the intensive 2-week training program, the CDP is developing a series of workshops ranging from ½-day didactic seminars on various topics to 3-day programs that will train professionals in specific skills and techniques to treat the needs of military personnel and their families.

  • The CDP faculty conducted a training workshop for the staff and trainees in the Department of Psychology at Madigan Army Medical Center. Future workshops will be presented at other Military Treatment Facilities.

  • CDP faculty members participated in workshops sponsored by the Air Force Office of the Surgeon General to train Air Force behavioral health personnel to treat PTSD.

  • CDP staff members have conducted a number of workshops and seminars throughout the United States to disseminate information on deployment-related behavioral health. These training efforts include the following:

  1. Providing briefings for new staffing orientation.

  2. Co-facilitating and supervising trainees conducting therapy and educational groups for returning personnel and their families.

  3. Providing cross-service training of military interns to acquaint them with information about other services.

  4. Providing training provided to Marine Corps Reservists on PTSD and coping with deployment stress.

  5. Providing training to Marine Corps mental health providers and chaplains on compassion fatigue.

  6. Speaking to family support program personnel on deployment stress.

  7. Consulting with service agencies to develop training programs for providers who care for military personnel and their families.

Resources and Outreach

The CDP has established a site on the internet devoted to the psychology of deployment that will include a virtual library of resources available for behavioral health professionals in need of information about the deployment-related needs of service members and their families. The CDP will also develop a resource center that will provide recommendations and proposals to support policy and program development, operations, and management. To augment the work of the CDP staff, we are developing collaborative relationships with other agencies and organizations whose efforts are focused on issues related to military deployment and the needs of service members and their families. These include:

Programs within the Department of Defense:
Army Behavioral Health Technology Office,
Deployment Health Clinical Center
Citizen-soldier Support Program

Programs in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs:
National Center for PTSD
VISN 6 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center

Civilian organizations:
American Psychological Association
National Military Family Association

Future Efforts

Continued funding for the CDP will allow for the continuation of education and training efforts already underway as well as for the initiation of additional activities that are planned for the CDP. Specifically, the CDP will:

  1. Continue to offer the 2-week Topics in Deployment Psychology training course five times annually at the USUHS. The CDP will also continue to provide workshops to train specific skills (e.g., treatment of PTSD) to military mental health professionals.

  2. Increase outreach to communities impacted by deployments by developing workshops that will be delivered in community settings.

  3. Increase delivery of materials and information via internet and other communication technologies so as to broaden the impact of education efforts.

  4. Develop resources to sustain a peer support and consultation system to allow military and civilian mental health professionals to share information and experiences regarding the care of military personnel and their families.

  5. Develop knowledge base of best practices in the care of deployment-related problems among military personnel and their families. This knowledge base will be used to guide modifications/additions to our current training efforts and to develop new workshops to promote the transfer of knowledge across providers.

  6. Endeavor to position the CDP to capitalize on its unique tri-service structure in order to support new educational efforts of the military and military health care system.

Personnel

David Riggs, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was hired to serve as Program Director for the D-GPE and Executive Director of the CDP beginning August 1, 2006. The balance of the CDP Headquarters staff (Deputy Director and Educational Administrator) was hired shortly thereafter. In November of 2006, the CDP Headquarters staff occupied their permanent offices at the USUHS and plans were made to hold the inaugural training course in January, 2007.