Difficult Conversations Podcast

Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician

Episode 166 | February 28, 2022

Conversations about PTSD

Dr. Deborah Beidel

Professor of Psychology at University of Central Florida

Deborah Beidel

Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is something most people are familiar with but are uncomfortable talking about. As my guest today, I have one of the foremost experts on PTSD who will tell us about the groundbreaking work she’s been doing here in Central Florida. Dr. Deborah Beidel is the Trustee Chair and Pegasus Professor of Psychology at University of Central Florida. She is also the Director of UCF RESTORES program, which is a clinical research center dedicated to changing the way post-traumatic stress disorder is understood, diagnosed, and treated. Her use of virtual reality to treat people suffering from PTSD has led to the development of treatments that are 2 -3X more effective than standard psychological treatments. Dr. Beidel is the author of over 300 scientific publications on the treatment of anxiety disorders and PTSD. Her most recent work involved leading a team of scientists and clinicians develop a new virtual reality system that allows clinicians to use virtual reality to treat veterans, active-duty personnel, first responders, and survivors of mass shootings with PTSD.

Dr. Beidel takes us through her journey, which started in the 1990’s, with her and two colleagues searching for a better way to treat Vietnam Veterans with PTSD. We find out the various historical names for PTSD. She discusses PTSD , the symptoms that develop, and why it’s a conversation people don’t want to have. We hear Dr. Beidel’s thoughts on why there needs to be a change at the administrative level, so PTSD can be recognized earlier. She discusses the need for more therapists who are culturally competent. Dr. Orsini mentions some important points about getting the person to admit to themselves. that they have PTSD. He says "Its a difficult conversations they sometimes need to have with themselves." Dr. Beidel details more about the RESTORES program, which utilizes exposure therapy, virtual reality, and intensive outpatient treatment. We also learn how some of their programs are federally funded, and with the help of the state legislature in Florida, the treatment is provided at no cost to Florida residents who meet the criteria for PTSD. Dr. Beidel tells us where treatments are available, and about a grant she received to do this treatment on 3 military bases around the country. We end with Dr. Beidel sharing with us the most difficult conversation she’s had and how she navigated though it. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go ahead and hit subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

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