Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) August 26, 2014
HealthForumOnline (HFO), a nationally-approved (APA, ASWB, NBCC, CA-BBS) online provider of continuing education (CE) for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and other allied healthcare professionals announces updates to its online CE course Response to Medical Illness: A Clinical Perspective on Trauma and Posttraumatic Growth. This is a relevant course for mental health professionals as a diagnosis of a chronic and/or acute disease can be a life-altering moment requiring a person to cope “at their best” when perhaps feeling at their worst. Further, this online CE course is timely as the prevalence of many illnesses, such as diabetes, is on the rise. This CE course, one of three in HFO’s Trauma category, provides mental health providers with a comprehensive overview of trauma, resilience, and posttraumatic growth in response to medical illness to enable them to facilitate both emotional coping with and physical adjustment to illness.
Annually, millions of Americans are diagnosed with chronic, debilitating, and/or life-threatening illnesses. Approximately 3.5% of Americans have experienced a cancer diagnosis (1); over 980,000 AIDS cases have been reported in the U.S. since 1981 (2); diabetes affects approximately 8% of the population (3); and an estimated 33% of American adults have cardiovascular disease (4). These statistics, far from comprehensive, are even more alarming considering rates of some illnesses (e.g., diabetes) are on the rise.
Beyond the physical challenges of the diagnostic procedures, treatments, associated side effects, and symptoms accompanying an illness, an illness experience can be emotionally overwhelming and stressful psychologically (e.g., 5). Patients, as well families and caregivers, are often forced to re-evaluate and adjust their roles, identities, priorities, and goals. The psychological sequelae of illness can be so traumatic, in fact, that in 1994 the APA recognized that a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness can precipitate Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Conversely, however, the idea that personal growth can arise from suffering has also been acknowledged. Many who experience illness find some benefit in the experience, report a sense of personal growth and transformation, and state that being confronted with their mortality is a catalyst for the re-evaluation and reprioritization of life goals from which they emerge with a deeper appreciation for the different facets of their life, known as Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) (e.g., 6).
The way one copes with the trauma of illness will greatly impact their short- and long-term adjustment to the disease and may, in part, determine who develops full-blown PTSD, a subclinical disorder, or for that matter, who emerges from the experience “enlightened.” It is paramount that mental health providers facilitate emotional adjustment to disease as psychological distress not only diminishes quality of life, but also directly, and indirectly, negatively influences one’s immune system (e.g., 7), as well as important treatment-related decisions and medical adherence (e.g., 8).
This online CE course provides an overview of trauma and PTG in relation to medical illness. The major models of medically-based trauma are presented. The process of posttraumatic growth and how people find meaning in their illness is examined along with key factors influencing coping and resilience. The information and strategies provided enables providers to promote resilience and facilitate posttraumatic growth among patients and their families/caregivers.
1. American Cancer Society (2010). Cancer facts and figures, 2010. Atlanta: GA.
3. CDC (2011). National diabetes fact sheet: National estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA.
4. American Heart Association (2009). Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2009 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation, 119, e21-e181.
5. Jones, R.D. (2001). Depression and anxiety in oncology: The oncologist’s perspective. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(Supplement 8), 52-55.
6. Morris, B.A., et al. (2011). Posttraumatic growth after cancer: the importance of health-related benefits and new found compassion for others. Support Care Cancer, epub ahead of print.
7. Surtees, P., et al. (2006). Mastery, sense of coherence, and mortality: Evidence of independent associations from the EPIC-Norfolk prospective cohort study. Health Psychology, 25(1), 102-110.
8. McDade-Montez, E., et al. (2006). The role of depression symptoms in dialysis withdrawal. Health Psychology, 25(2), 198-204.