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Rural veterans now able to seek therapy through their telephones

By: Tony Peck
March 6, 2018 Updated: March 6, 2018 at 4:27 pm
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The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Tuesday its newest pilot mental health option for veterans, a telephone-based program for rural veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, The Gazette file)

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Tuesday its newest pilot mental health option for veterans, a telephone-based program for rural veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD program is designed to delivery therapy through phone and video calls, says an agency press release.

“Our researchers have worked diligently in recent years to establish safety and efficacy of PTSD psychotherapy delivered remotely,” agency Secretary David Shulkin explained in the release.

The release states that more than 500 rural veterans are enrolled in the pilot program. They can choose between two types of therapy – cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure therapy.

According to the Veterans Affairs website, cognitive processing therapy usually includes writing about traumatic experiences and discussing the events with a therapist.

Prolonged exposure therapy involves confronting people, places, feelings or memories that have been avoided due to a traumatic experience, according to the agency website.

After the veteran chooses the right kind of therapy they will stay in frequent contact with a care manager who will help find services from off-site psychiatrists and psychologists, explains the release.

As a pilot program, the results will be collected and made public in 2020 and will lay the groundwork for a nation-wide rollout, the release said.

“We are excited to see this program help greater numbers of Veterans living in rural areas and pleased that it will save them time and effort to get to a VA facility that is far from their homes,” said Shulkin.

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