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Screening and Assessment of Psychological Trauma and PTSD

by Lesia Ruglass, PhD 3 CE Credits

Trauma exposure is ubiquitous.  Epidemiological studies estimate that approximately 60-90% of individuals living in the United States have been exposed to one or more traumatic events in their lifetime.  Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common, often debilitating, psychological reaction after trauma exposure.  Seven to twelve percent of individuals exposed to trauma will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Yet, many health providers fail to assess for trauma exposure or PTSD during their routine clinical practice, which may lead to inaccurate diagnoses and inadequate treatment for those in need.  PTSD is associated with a host of negative psychological, behavioral, and physical outcomes. Thus the routine assessment and diagnosis of PTSD could help improve treatment outcomes for individuals with this condition. This online CE course provides a review of the definition of trauma, the major types of traumas, prevalence rates of trauma exposure, common reactions to trauma including PTSD, and risk and protective factors for the development of PTSD after trauma exposure.  The history of the PTSD diagnosis is reviewed including the recent changes to the PTSD diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), 5th Edition.  Additionally, this course reviews the current DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for PTSD, identifies the most common co-occurring psychological, behavioral, and physical health problems associated with PTSD; reviews methods for screening and assessment of trauma and PTSD; and examines common clinical and diagnostic challenges associated with the assessment and diagnosis of PTSD.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours and ASWB Clinical CE clock hours.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Define trauma, including the major types of traumas and prevalence rates of trauma exposure.
  • Discuss trauma-related psychopathology, including the recent changes to the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5.
  • Identify common co-occurring mental-health and medical problems associated with PTSD, as well as risk and protective factors for the development of PTSD.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of commonly used screening and assessment measures for trauma and PTSD.
  • Describe and discuss clinical implications and diagnostic challenges related to PTSD assessment (e.g., managing client’s sx’s/reactions, issues within a forensic setting, clinician self-care).
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