Letter to NY Times Editor

30 May 2014 11:10 AM | SSCP Webmaster (Administrator)

The article “A revolutionary approach to treating PTSD” presented an overview of an experimental approach to the treatment of PTSD.  We appreciate efforts to improve the treatment of this important problem as well as any other mental illness; however, as clinical psychological scientists we are concerned that this article misrepresents the research base on the treatment of PTSD and risks encouraging individuals to pursue a treatment of unknown utility when well-tested alternatives exist.  Specifically, in contrast to the treatment featured within the article, there is a strong research base for Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD.  Although the author noted the lack of research evidence for the experimental treatment, this issue was presented as an afterthought, rather than as a primary criterion for selecting a treatment.  It is difficult for consumers of mental health care to know which treatments have the strongest research support.  It is thus imperative that media provide a clear, unambiguous statement regarding evidence for and against treatments, while also directing readers to other relevant resources (e.g., www.psychologicaltreatments.org, www.effectivechildtherapy.com, http://www.div12.org/PsychologicalTreatments/index.htm).  The public should be advised to select treatments that have been shown scientifically to work before trying untested treatments that have no evidence for their efficacy, and may even be potentially harmful. 

Submitted on behalf of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (SSCP; https://sites.google.com/site/sscpwebsite/) by

Michael D. Anestis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi

Bethany Teachman, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia (SSCP President)

Mitch Prinstein, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (SSCP President-elect)

SSCP is Section III of Division 12 of the American Psychological Association (APA), and an organizational affiliate of the Association of Psychological Science (APS), but we are writing on behalf of SSCP, not APA or APS.