Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic
The PTSD research clinic spans primary and secondary care, to improve outcomes for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), by increasing access to evidence-informed treatments, and supporting researchers to learn what treatments work for whom.
It is led by Dr Nick Grey, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Associate Director of Psychological Professions.
The clinic does not accept direct referrals and does not offer treatments itself. The clinic is embedded in established Sussex Partnership services, where it evaluates the treatments offered for those with PTSD and Complex PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by distressing and extremely frightening events. There are three symptom clusters in PTSD: re- experiencing, avoidance (internal/ external) and hyperarousal.
It is common for people with PTSD to experience symptoms of reliving the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares, experience feelings of isolation, guilt, and anger. PTSD can also impact your sleep and concentration throughout day to day activities. PTSD symptoms are often severe and persistent, causing a significant impact on the person's life.
It is common for PTSD to develop much later than the stressful event (months or even years after).
More information about PTSD can be found here.
If you have specific difficulties in addition to the core PTSD symptoms, this may be better described as complex PTSD. These areas of difficulty are:
- Problems in maintaining relationships
- Problems in seeing yourself as worthless and defeated
- Problems in managing emotions
These most typically follow the experience of repeated traumatic situations, such as persistent abuse or violence, and/or severe neglect. More information about complex PTSD can be found here.
We are looking at the outcomes of EMDR and trauma-focused CBT, the evidence-based psychological therapies for PTSD. There are not clear guidelines currently regarding who should be offered which treatment. We will also look at the impact of face-to-face vs remote delivery. This is using existing routinely collected data.
This project will seek to increase the offer of Compassionate Resilience (CR) groups for people who meet criteria for Complex PTSD. CR is an evidence-informed psychological therapy provided by appropriately trained registered practitioners. Initial evaluations of this treatment have been conducted by the Berkshire Trauma Service, led by Dr Deborah Lee, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, the developer of CR.
Compassionate Resilience derives from the Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) approach, initially developed to treat shame, self-loathing, and self-criticism. CFT is useful to treat different conditions such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and trauma. The goal of CFT is to alleviate your own suffering by developing your own care-giving (compassion) system, which includes developing non-judgement, warmth, kindness, wisdom, empathy and moral courage.
As outlined above, the PTSD clinic does not accept direct referrals as it is a research clinic embedded in Sussex Partnership services.
If you are interested in CR and would like to know where you can access it through the NHS, there are a number of practitioners trained in CFT within Assessment and Treatment Services across West Sussex and East Sussex (but not in Brighton & Hove) who may offer you a place in a CRG, after carrying out a suitability assessment and provided that you meet criteria of PTSD/ complex PTSD. The groups are run online and there are trained practitioners in ATS within the following localities: North West Sussex, Eastbourne, High Weald, Lewes, and Havens, Hastings and Rother. Depending on where you live, you can ask your GP to be referred into your local ATS.
Useful links and material about CFT and CR: Introducing compassion-focused therapy - Advances in Psychiatric Treatment
The Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) for the PTSD clinic is a group of people with experience of PTSD who are actively involved and/or support the work of the clinic. The LEAP for PTSD is led by Chloë Elsby-Pearson.
The group meet periodically to help clinicians and researchers improve the quality and accessibility of services and support available for PTSD, and to develop new research about PTSD.
If you are feeling unsafe and experiencing an emergency, such as suicidal thoughts due to your symptoms of PTSD, please contact your clinical care team or alternatively use the following emergency numbers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
- Dial 999 if your situation is a health emergency
- Call NHS 111 and select option 2 or dial 0800 0309 500 (Sussex Mental Healthline)
If you aren't in need of immediate treatment, but would still like to access help and support for the symptoms of PTSD you are experiencing, such as distressing flashbacks or nightmares. There are two main routes:
- You can refer yourself to NHS Talking Therapies services. If you are based in Brighton & Hove or East Sussex you can refer yourself directly to the services Sussex Partnership provides. In West Sussex, you can refer yourself here. Elsewhere you can find your local service here.
- Or speak to your GP. They can signpost you to useful resources and refer you to mental health services that are available in your area, such as Assessment and Treatment Services (available across Sussex), where you can receive specialist help for PTSD. The PTSD clinic works in partnership with ATS Services where, depending on where you live, you might be offered a place in a Compassionate Resilience group (see above) after a suitability assessment carried out by a trained practitioner.
Trauma Informed Care (TIC) is care that considers the impact of a person’s difficult life experiences and uses this to help us find ways for present day care to be effective and accessible. The NHS Long Term Plan states that mental health services should be trauma-informed. This is an approach that applies to all services. The principles are not limited to those people who meet criteria for PTSD or Complex PTSD. There are developments in the Trust to help our services and systems become trauma informed. This work is led by Dr Celia Lesquerre, Associate Director of Psychological Professions, who can be contacted at celia.
In the UK, Scotland is the furthest advanced in developing trauma informed approaches. NHS Education for Scotland’s free materials are available here.