UCF’s cutting edge RESTORES clinic, which helps people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, has been awarded a $10 million grant to expand its work.

The U.S. Army is funding RESTORES to establish programs at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Georgia, Naval Medical Hospital Portsmouth in Virginia and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to take this program to active-duty military personnel and treat them on their own bases, right where they are,” said Deborah Beidel, a UCF Pegasus Professor of psychology and medical education, who leads the clinic. “Our early research results show our program to be more effective than traditional PTSD treatment, and this gives us the opportunity to get some additional data to demonstrate it on a larger scale, while providing treatment in a convenient way for our patients.”

Beidel and her team developed a compressed three-week program that combines virtual reality and exposure therapy with group treatments for anger, depression, guilt, and social isolation. The team established the RESTORES clinic in 2011 on the main UCF campus and has been helping veterans and their families. The clinic has treated 300 veterans and active-duty personnel, first responders from 20 states and Pulse survivors. Early research results demonstrate that the intensive treatment has significantly improved symptoms in most patients, with about two-thirds no longer showing the clinical criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, Beidel said.

The grant allows Beidel and her team to establish and run the program at the three military facilities. The overall objective of this study is to determine if the compressed program, can be used as an effective alternative treatment for PTSD and to compare its impact on social, familial, and occupational impairment that often result from PTSD treatment.

PTSD affects more than the individual; it affects families and communities. UCF’s program is the only treatment for PTSD that directly targets these additional areas of functioning.  Other programs are specifically directed at decreasing PTSD symptoms.

“Our program is more comprehensive – not only do we target symptoms, but we also directly target impairment in these important areas of everyday life,” Beidel said.

Three hundred active-military personnel – 100 at each site – will be recruited for the study. The candidates will need to meet several criteria including diagnosis of PTSD or other trauma.

The study will evaluate the effectiveness of the program when delivered in an intensive outpatient format compared to a treatment called prolonged exposure, which consists solely of exposure therapy without the virtual reality component, and which is delivered in either a compressed daily or standard weekly fashion.