People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will have the chance to take part in a pilot study of an internet-based education program.
Participants will be able to log on to a secure website and complete the program at convenient times. There are six lessons over an eight-week period and those involved will have access to a clinical psychologist who will monitor their progress and be available for phone and email support.
The pilot, run by UNSW and St Vincent's Hospital, follows other online programs that have proven just as effective as face-to-face therapies for a wide range of common mental disorders.
"In this program people will learn to recognise and challenge the symptoms of PTSD, and with practice, we hope they will gain control over those symptoms," says Mr Jay Spence, a clinical psychologist who is developing the online treatment as part of his PhD at UNSW. "Recovering from PTSD is hard work, but good education is the cornerstone of learning to manage the symptoms."
PTSD affects some one million Australians and is a reaction that occurs after a stressful life event, like a motor vehicle accident or an assault. It involves flashbacks or nightmares, feeling constantly on-guard or jumpy, avoidance of things related to the event, and problems with sleep or anger.
"People can be affected for years by these symptoms, and it often affects people's ability to feel safe, maintain relationships, or even employment," he says.
Mr Spence's work is being supervised by Dr Nick Titov and Professor Gavin Andrews, of UNSW's Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD), at St Vincent's Hospital.
To learn more about the pilot, or to take part, check the website.