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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Screening and Assessment of Psychological Trauma and PTSD: Clinical Applications for Civilians and Veterans

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.

Continuing education for this online course is offered through the following approvals:


  • HealthForum is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. HealthForum maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • HealthForum (ACE Provider #1156) is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. HealthForum maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: (6/20/2017 to 6/20/2020). Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 3 Clinical continuing education clock hours.
  • HealthForumOnline, LLC, SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0355
  • HealthForum has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6216.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. HealthForum is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction
  • Major Types of Traumatic Events
  • Common Psychological Consequences of Trauma Exposure
  • The Physical Health Consequences of Severe Trauma
  • Relevant Risk Factors: Posttraumatic Stress or Posttraumatic Growth?
  • Screening for Trauma Exposure and PTSD
  • PTSD Assessment: The Process
  • PTSD Assessment: Commonly Used Measures
  • PTSD Assessment within a Forensic Context
  • Clinician Self-Care
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Define trauma-related psychopathology, including recognizing 10 major types of trauma, prevalence rates of trauma exposure, and the 4 symptom clusters of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) currently included in DSM-5 diagnostic criteria.
  • Identify 3 comorbid psychiatric conditions and 4 medical disorders commonly associated with PTSD, along with risk and protective factors for the development of PTSD.
  • Recognize 7 trauma-specific measures along with professional and evidence-based guidelines for use in a variety of the trauma contexts, including the forensic arena.
  • Describe and discuss at least 3 clinical and diagnostic challenges that can arise in PTSD assessment.