Applying a new Cognitive Model for Trauma in Northern Ireland

The latest research has shown that psychotherapy is an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder related to terrorism and other civil conflict in Northern Ireland, consultant psychiatrist and specialist in the treatment of trauma disorders, Dr. Kate Gillespie told this month’s Dublin Conference of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy.
And treatment is effective, when delivered even more than 30 years following the trauma.
Dr. Gillespie is Clinical Director of the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation, which specialises in the assessment and treatment of trauma related disorders resulting from the Northern Ireland conflict.
She said that up to recently little was known about how to successfully treat trauma resulting from events such as the bombings in London in 2005, the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York and the train bombings in Madrid.
The only published evaluation of treatment after a terrorist bomb revealed that cognitive therapy  one of the psychotherapy disciplines delivered three months to two years to survivors of the Omagh bombings resulted in improvements in post traumatic stress disorder on a par with treatment for non-terrorist related illness.
Following these results the Northern Ireland treatment centre was established to offer trauma focused cognitive therapy to people affected by terrorism and other civil conflict over the past four decades.
Dr. Gillespie said that a new study of 58 consecutive patients treated at the Centre  some up to 33 years after the trauma – had shown significant and substantial reductions in the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and depression.
A high proportion of the patient had experienced multiple traumas and these patients improved as much as those who had experienced fewer traumas.
The present or absence of another psychiatric disorder did not influence the extent of a patient’s reduction in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Physical problems resulting from the trauma did not predict poorer outcome, but high levels of depression at intake were associated with poorer outcome  a finding not observed in the Omagh bomb study.,
Dr. Gillespie told the Conference, that recent guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK recommend cognitive behaviour therapy as a treatment of choice alone or in conjunction with drugs  for many psychiatric disorders.