United States Department of Veterans Affairs
 Health Care
Psychologist Helping Veterans Makes TIME’s Top 100 List
Dr. Edna Foa (Penn Medicine photo)
Dr. Edna Foa (Penn Medicine photo)

Dr. Edna Foa developed a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is being used by the VA to help Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Veterans who fought in Vietnam, Korea and World War II. She has been named one of the people “who most affect our world” by TIME magazine.

Dr. Foa, Director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, developed “Prolonged Exposure” therapy which the VA is putting into wide use to treat Veterans experiencing PTSD. Known as PE, the therapy involves identifying thoughts and situations that trigger painful memories and then gradually exposing the patient to those memories.

According to Dr. Foa, “Prolonged Exposure (PE) was found to reduce severity of PTSD symptoms, depression, and anger in Veterans who suffer from chronic PTSD even 30 years after the traumatic events.

“Treatment is short, lasting 10 to 15 sessions. Many patients report that after treatment they resumed to the life they left behind after their trauma. In addition to feeling a lot less anxious, angry, and depressed, patients who received PE report newly found intimacy with their spouse, family, and friends, as well as resumed working and fun activities.”

Several examples of Veterans who have successfully received this treatment have been recently featured on this VA website: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/20091210a.asp and http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/20091127a.asp

The success of the new treatment is being praised by mental health experts. Psychologist Joan Cook of Yale University described the rollouts of the treatment “unparalleled in the mental-health field.”

Veterans and their families can read more about the therapy here: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/prolonged-exposure-therapy.asp

Related link:
University of Pennsylvania News Release http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2010/04/ptsd-researcher-most-influential-time-magazine/