How do Psychology Students Learn about PTSD?

Psychology majors can learn about post-traumatic stress disorder and its effects on individuals by studying PTSD at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Undergraduate studies typically cover general information about the disorder including characteristics associated with PTSD; assessment and diagnostic techniques; the disorder’s impact on daily living activities; and current treatment protocols for PTSD patients. Additional in-depth studies can be expected to specialize a master’s, doctorate or professional certificate leading to positions as mental health counselors with expertise in post-traumatic stress disorders.

PTSD as a Psychological Disorder

PTSD was officially recognized in 1980 as a distinct anxiety disorder among individuals who experience exposure to many forms of psychological trauma. Though PTSD has historically been associated with military combat personnel, PTSD can affect anyone who experiences verbal or physical abuse, bullying or harassment, violent assaults, natural disasters, man-made catastrophes or serious accidents. Those affected can consequently exhibit a range of symptoms including flashbacks, severe mood swings, uncontrolled rage, addiction, depression, panic attacks or eating disorders. Over time, PTSD has become more widely accepted as a legitimate psychological disorder and accredited psychology programs now provide coursework that emphasizes therapeutic approaches designed to improve the quality of life for PTSD patients.

Studying PTSD in Graduate and Post-Graduate Programs

Most career positions to work with post-traumatic stress patients require job candidates to hold a master’s or doctorate in the field, with concentrations in psycho-traumatic disorders and interventions. These graduate and post-graduate programs include PTSD under a broader umbrella of psycho-traumatic conditions that affect individuals. Specialized training focuses on cognitive behavior therapies, addiction interventions and cutting-edge research studies that lead to evidence-based treatment practices. Coursework specifically related to PTSD can include the following topics:

  • Causes of PTSD and their effects on the brain and body
  • PTSD etiology and diagnostic assessments
  • Effects of traumatic brain injury on daily living and social interactions
  • Addressing related conditions such as sleep disturbances, anger outbursts, eating disorders or addictive behaviors
  • Treatment protocols for deployment-related depression in military personnel
  • PTSD in civilian populations such as refugee groups or survivors of large-scale disasters
  • Prevalence of developing serious mental illness or suicidal ideation among PTSD patients
  • Trauma counseling and prolonged exposure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing techniques
  • Virtual reality or somatic therapies

Working as a PTSD Professional

Psychology graduates with at least a master’s are prepared to take certification exams and meet minimal licensing qualifications required by most states to work in clinical or therapeutic programs. Employment positions for those with PTSD specialization may be found across diverse public, private and government venues. These include mental health clinics, grief counseling centers, social work agencies, abuse prevention organizations, educational research facilities, military hospitals, veterans affairs groups, psychotherapy practices, disaster relief agencies or emergency preparedness management programs.

Those who complete psychology degree requirements to work as mental health providers with PTSD patients can expect fulfilling careers helping people overcome psychological trauma that affects normal social interactions and daily living activities. Currently, jobs within the mental health counseling profession are in demand and expected to rise by 29% through 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, studying PTSD through accredited degree programs can offer graduates multiple career choices.