What Is the Best Psychology Career to Help with PTSD?

If you want to make a difference for others, you might wonder what is the best career to help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Awareness concerning PTSD has expanded considerably over the past decade, as many of our veterans are coming home with symptoms. However, military combat isn’t the only place that trauma can happen, and sufferers of post-traumatic stress can come from all walks of life. They may be elderly, and they may be young children. Regardless of their situation, it is important to consider how you can help.

Treating Trauma Survivors

PTSDTreating suffers of PTSD can be difficult because their symptoms often look like symptoms of other disorders or ailments. The anxiety caused by a severe trauma can cause sufferers to relive nightmarish events. Feelings of anger or grief often become so overwhelming that they interfere with daily life. Mental health treatment of these individuals needs to be sensitive, and training in de-escalation is important for those treating PTSD sufferers.

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Individuals with post-traumatic stress may be treated at hospitals and residential facilities as well as in out-patient settings. The type of trauma an individual has experienced may affect the type of treatment necessary as well as the amount of time spent in treatment.

Career Paths for Treating PTSD

Because PTSD is fairly common, you could encounter individuals dealing with this disorder in many lines of work. First responders are often trained on how to handle those with PTSD. Nurses and assistants working in hospitals, especially on psych wards, often provide direct care to patients with PTSD. However, if you wish to be involved with counseling or performing research concerning the treatment of this mental condition, you should pursue a career in social work or psychology. You will need at least a master’s degree, and you may find that you can do the most good with a Ph.D., Psy.D. or an M.D. with a specialization in psychiatry.

As you pursue your career to help those with PTSD, you can choose from jobs such as:

  • Counseling psychologist
  • Research psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Licensed counseling social worker
  • Recreational therapist
  • School counselor

Your specialization within social work or psychology will influence the specific populations with which you work. School counselors usually work with children and teens. They may help students who suffer from PTSD themselves, and they may provide support for students with parents suffering from PTSD. Research psychologists do more work in laboratories than in clinical settings, but for this type of research, psychologists often see and treat clients to create their own experimental groups to measure against control groups. Recreational therapists and social workers often provide services to trauma survivors at in-patient facilities, and counselors and psychiatrists work in private offices as well as hospitals and other treatment facilities.

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There is still much research to be done in order for us to fully understand post-traumatic stress disorder. A career to help with PTSD doesn’t come easily, but the reward of helping others live life more fully and healthily can be worth it.