In recent decades the mental health community has become increasingly sensitized to the role of trauma - including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and neglect - in the generation of a wide variety of DSM-5 disorders and symptomatic behaviors.
Concurrently with this evolution of the field, Dr. Colin Ross developed a clinical treatment program based on his Trauma Model. His goals are to offer high quality and effective treatment to people with trauma-related disorders, to assist in treatment planning with referring therapists, and to engage in clinical research to help further refine key elements of diagnosis and treatment in the mental health field.
The Effects of Trauma
Trauma can lead to many symptoms including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, psychosis and dissociation. An enduring pattern of numerous complex symptoms can devastate a person's emotional and cognitive development, causing severe dysfunction and distress in adulthood. Trauma's various manifestations include chronic depression, lack of coherent self image, low self esteem, repetitive self defeating and self destructive behaviors, unstable mood, and hallucinations.
At times the traumatic origins of an individual's problems may be difficult to ascertain. At the Ross Institute, an experienced staff of clinicians provides psychiatric and behavioral evaluation to ascertain the presence of trauma-related problems as well as to determine the presence of other treatable medical or psychiatric disorders.
The treatment of trauma disorder patients requires special care and presents special challenges. Often these patients have a wide range of deficits that impair their ability to form healing relationships or make informed treatment decisions on their own behalf. A wide range of treatment modalities is offered to address these deficits.
A variety of cognitive therapies is offered to assist patients in correcting their general cognitive deficits as well as specific cognitive distortions related to anger, shame, identity, sexuality and relationships.
In addition, a variety of experiential treatment modalities are offered to assist in development of an integrated sense of self. These activities also are helpful in developing socialization skills, reality testing, and affect tolerance and regulation.
Special attention is given to anger expression as trauma disorder patients typically have difficulty tolerating their anger, expressing it constructively, and overcoming their fear of retaliation.
A didactic approach is also utilized to educate the patient as to the cause and form of his or her difficulties, solicit the patient's intellectual capacity for involvement in treatment and recovery, and demystify and de-stigmatize the patient's perception of his or her problems and diagnoses.
A therapeutic milieu is fostered so that patients may gain support and encouragement from one another. The milieu is also utilized as a model social community through which patients may gain an understanding of their responsibility for both themselves and their community.
Therapeutic journaling is utilized to develop self awareness and self validation, and to diminish personality fragmentation.
Additionally, psychotropic medication is prescribed as appropriate to facilitate the regulation of feelings and the treatment of medication-responsive psychiatric disorders.
Overall, we follow the treatment principles described in Dr. Ross' books, The Trauma Model and Trauma Model Therapy.
Types of Patients Treated
Due to our wide-ranging clinical treatment modalities, we are equipped to treat a variety of patients and problems. Patients are admitted emergently for safety and stabilization. Some require significant assistance in developing internal self-regulation and life management skills in order to return to living independently.
Clinical Teaching and Consultation
We endeavor to provide comprehensive treatment. We work with referring therapists in our local community, and also accept out of area referrals. In these circumstances we solicit the treatment experience of the referring therapist and help formulate an ongoing treatment plan for use upon referral back to outpatient care. We see this as an excellent opportunity to learn from other therapists' experiences and also as an opportunity to provide clinical teaching and consultation for the less experienced therapist.
Commitment to Research
With the assistance and enduring commitment of Dr. Colin Ross, we expect to engage in significant research in the diagnosis and treatment of trauma-related disorders. By no means do we expect to have all the answers. However, we do make the commitment to contribute as much as possible to the growing body of knowledge in this field.
The Problem of False Memories
Our position at the Ross Institute is that patients need to be responsible for their own thoughts, feelings, behavior, and memories. It is not our task to either "validate" memories or conclude that they are not real. We work with the patient to help him or her sort out the reality of the past as best as possible. The content of the memories is not our primary focus; the healing elements of the treatment are in the process and structure, not in the content. We adopt the principle of therapeutic neutrality, described in Trauma Model Therapy, with respect to the accuracy of trauma memories.