Intervista al Prof. Metin Basoglu, fondatore del Trauma Studies presso il King’s College di Londra (2)

E' stato intervistato Metin Basoglu, fondatore del Trauma Studies presso il King's College di Londra sul trattamento Control-Focused Behavioral Treatment. 

ID Articolo: 118253 - Pubblicato il: 22 febbraio 2016
Intervista al Prof. Metin Basoglu, fondatore del Trauma Studies presso il King’s College di Londra
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Interview with Professor Metin Basoglu, MD, PhD, founder and former Head of Trauma Studies at the Institute of Psychiatry of King’s College London and founder of the Istanbul Center for Behavior Research and Therapy (DABATEM) in Turkey.

Professor Metin Basoglu is internationally recognized as an authority on war, torture, and natural disaster trauma and treatment of survivors. One of his career-guiding goals has been to develop a mental healthcare model that can address the psychological care needs of millions of mass trauma survivors around the world. His work with survivors of the 1999 earthquakes in Turkey that led to the development of a brief and largely self-help intervention (Control- Focused Behavioral Treatment – CFBT) has been an important step towards such a model.

1. As the founder of DABATEM, could you describe why the Center was born?

Mass trauma events, such as wars, natural disasters, political violence, and torture, affect millions of people around the world. Most have little chance of getting professional care. DABATEM was founded in 1995 with a view to developing a mental healthcare model with a potential to meet the needs of large survivor populations. Such a challenging task requires very brief interventions that can also be self-administered without any therapist involvement. As none of the “evidence-based” treatments developed in the western world is suitable for this purpose, we needed to develop a novel intervention.

2. What is this intervention and its theoretical basis?

It is based on learning theory, which tells us that traumatic stress is caused by helplessness induced by unpredictable and uncontrollable stressor events. Evidence shows that cognitive and / or behavioral avoidance is strongly associated with helplessness anxiety. This implies that helping a person to gain sense of control over anxiety by exposure to trauma reminders would reduce helplessness and lead to recovery. This hypothesis was confirmed by several clinical trials. We have also seen many survivors discover this intervention by themselves and recover without any professional help. Because of its focus on sense of control, we called it Control-Focused Behavioral Treatment or CFBT in short.

3. How is CFBT different from other treatments involving exposure?

It is based on a radically different theoretical paradigm. Unlike other treatments that aim for anxiety reduction, CFBT aims for anxiety tolerance or enhancement of sense of control over anxiety. Anxiety reduction is not a realistic aim when people face continued threats to safety. You need a resilience-building intervention that increases ability to tolerate or control anxiety. CFBT is also different from cognitive-behavioral treatments in focusing solely on avoidance and not involving any systematic cognitive interventions or any anxiety management technique.

4. How brief is CFBT?

By brief, I mean involving as little therapist involvement as possible. In CFBT the therapist explains the treatment rationale, encourages self-exposure, monitors progress, and assists with exposure exercises only when needed. Research shows that nearly 80% of survivors recover with self-exposure after the first session, while only 20% need up to 3 more therapist-assisted exposure sessions. Treatment can also be effectively delivered in a single session in over 90% of the cases using Earthquake Simulation Treatment, which is an enhanced application of CFBT designed to increase sense of control over tremors in an earthquake simulator.

We haven’t yet conducted comparable studies with war and torture survivors but a recent treatment study of 60 traumatized asylum-seekers showed that significant recovery can be achieved with mean 6 therapist-delivered sessions. These sessions could be reduced further by switching to self-exposure earlier in treatment when the survivors can conduct exposure on their own.

5. How can this treatment be disseminated to masses?

As the model is at a more advanced stage with earthquake survivors, I’ll answer your question in relation to earthquakes. Evidence suggests that CFBT can be delivered as a self-administered intervention through all means possible, including professional or lay therapists, self-help manuals, and mass media. It involves two components: (1) an outreach program targeting particular survivor groups, such as those dislocated to shelters, schools, factories, or most affected communities and (2) dissemination of treatment knowledge to the public through mass media, such as TV, Internet, social media, etc.

Messaggio pubblicitario The outreach program involves step-by-step delivery of 4 CFBT sessions. Treatment of responders after each session is discontinued with instructions to continue exposure exercises on their own. The idea is to minimize therapist input by relying on self- exposure, sparing precious therapist time for non-responders to each session. In a study we found that 76% of the survivors improved after the 1st session, 88% after the 2nd, 97% after the 3rd, and 100% after the 4th.

The model also involves pre-disaster preparedness strategies, including training of care providers, dissemination of treatment knowledge to the public, and whenever possible, increasing people’s resilience against earthquake trauma through the use of earthquake simulators.

6. Did you examine the cost-effectiveness of this outreach program?

Only in terms of therapist time costs. Care of 5,000 survivors after the 1999 earthquake in Turkey cost us 30 USD per case while we were still developing the model. In its present state we anticipate a cost of 17.5 USD per case in countries like Turkey. If our self-help manual is used as the first-line intervention, the cost could be substantially lower, depending on the number of people who utilize the manual. With such low cost, it would be economically feasible to target large survivor populations for care delivery. For example, you could have delivered care to the entire survivor population in need of help after the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake. Disseminating treatment knowledge through mass media, such as TV and social media, could reduce the costs even further. Although we didn’t yet have a chance to test this dissemination method, we have good reasons to believe it would help a lot of people.

7. Can you say a few words about the book you have published on all this work?

This book is actually intended as a training tool for care providers. It provides not only a detailed description of the model but also the tools needed to implement it, such as screening tools for traumatic stress, scales for treatment outcome evaluation, a self-help manual for earthquake survivors, and a structured Treatment Delivery Manual for professional and lay therapists. Care providers who are interested in using our model but who do not have access to us for training may find the knowledge they need in this book.

8. What do you think the future holds for DABATEM and your career?

I spent 30 years of my life on this challenging idea. It took more than 40 studies to bring the model to its present state and more work is needed to complete it. I am now at a stage in my career where I can be most useful by disseminating my knowledge through training programs, publications, and my blog. I am hoping my younger co- worker, Prof. Ebru Salcioglu, who is now carrying the flag of DABATEM’s mission, will bring my idea to a completion. Our work so far will hopefully motivate others to contribute to this process.

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