Exposure therapy, also known as prolonged exposure therapy, is a type of therapy that is used in a wide variety of clinical situations. One of these clinical situations include alcohol or drug problems, also known as substance use disorder. Another clinical situation is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a common development for an individual who has experienced a traumatic or horrific experience, such as war, 9/11, or rape. Prolonged exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy repeatedly allows the individual to re-experience the negative events that helped create the situation. In doing so, the individual may learn to experience these events in a calmer, more controlled atmosphere. Occasionally, the use of medications that allow the individual to not have a strong nervous system response are used as well. This type of treatment is considered one of the “best practices” in dealing with individuals with severe problems that are resistant to other types of behavioral treatment (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014).
A program was examined in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This area is where there was recently a manhunt for an alleged cop killer. It is likely that some of their law enforcement officers will require assistance in the aftermath of the death of a fellow officer and the ensuing manhunt. Furthermore, the additional stress placed on first responders may lead to increased use of alcohol as a means to cope with it. The Scranton Counseling Center was examined as a potential site for this type of therapy. Scranton Counseling Center is a non-profit organization; however, it is not federally run. It is a private organization. It has been in operation since 1947. It is well-staffed for its commitments at this time. The staff members include licensed psychologists, mental health therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, drug and alcohol counselors and other mental health professionals. It has a large building in downtown Scranton that is readily accessible to many individuals via public transportation. Overall, the majority of the staff are willing to participate in new educational programs, if they are convenient. Obviously, for staff members with family and other personal commitments, it is difficult to leave the area for training. The medical director is willing to work with new ideas and to “handle” any “charismatic” individuals within his organization.
However, there are still significant problems with implementing this type of program in the region. Firstly, the community is in financial difficulties and has been so for the last several decades. Unfortunately, lack of funds is often a reason why programs are not implemented. It is a practical reason, not a philosophical one. However, the practical ones are sometimes the hardest to overcome. This problem could be overcome with the use of federal grants. Another possible problem is the lack of trained therapists to administer this type of program. Obviously, not all therapists are familiar with the therapy. It may require an additional individual to be hired by the program. Instead of this option, it may require one of the therapists already on staff to receive additional training. Obviously, this is also a practical issue with funding. However, it is also a geographic issue. If the training is not available in the region, the individual would need to leave the area to obtain the necessary schooling.
A third possible reason is philosophical and theoretical. If individuals are not familiar with this type of program and therapy, they may be hesitant to engage in it. As such, it would not be utilized despite the need for it. This could be compensated by offering the community brochures and other educational packets that explain the value of this therapy. This educational campaign would also seek to discuss how the therapy is conducted and what the possible outcomes of the therapy are.
- Scranton Counseling Center. (2014). About us. Retrieved from: http://www.scrantonscc.org/about.html
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Prolonged exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. Retrieved from: http://nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=89