Implications of the American Psychological Association’s posttraumatic stress disorder treatment guideline for trauma education and training.

There is a shortage of clinicians who have been trained in treating traumatized clients, despite the high prevalence of trauma exposure and its frequent link with psychopathology. To address this need, professional guidelines and resources have been developed, including a core set of trauma competencies that professionals must develop to provide trauma-informed services to clients and several treatment guidelines. We discuss The New Haven Competencies for Trauma Training and Practice, then review recently developed clinical and professional practice guidelines, with an emphasis on the American Psychological Association (APA)’s Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD; “APA PTSD Guideline”). The APA PTSD Guideline was developed to guide clinicians in treatment planning for traumatized clients. However, numerous concerns about the Guideline and its limitations have been raised, and we present those that are relevant to training students and professionals about treating traumatized clients. We consider whether the APA Guideline is consistent with current trauma training needs, models, initiatives, and resources. We conclude that students and professionals who apply the treatments identified by the APA PTSD Guideline as “strongly supported” by empirical evidence may inadvertently overwhelm some clients with complex trauma presentations, which could result in poor outcomes or even harm. Furthermore, the Guideline does not adequately address aspects of treatment that are crucial to training about trauma, such as considering the client’s cultural and individual needs and clinician self-care. We suggest training methods that take into consideration the limitations of the APA PTSD Guideline. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)