Cwm Taf mental health specialist involved in ground-breaking research into new therapy for military veterans
Virtual reality technology is being used to develop a potential new treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans.
The study, which is being conducted by Cardiff University and funded by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and the National Lottery, is investigating a new treatment called ‘Motion-assisted Multi-modular Memory Desensitisation and Reconsolidation’ (3MDR) for veterans who have not responded to other psychological treatments.
Will Watkins, a community veterans’ mental health therapist from Veterans’ NHS Wales based in Cwm Taf University Health Board, is an accredited CBT practitioner (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and is hopeful it could provide a breakthrough in treating ‘treatment-resistant’ PTSD.
“This is a new talking therapy that shares many of the principles and methods used in existing trauma-focused psychological therapies, but which extends these using virtual reality techniques including adding in your own music, photographs and walking on a treadmill,” he explains.
“It takes existing therapies such as CBT and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy) a step further by supporting the participants to ‘step into’ the trauma and engage with the difficult memories alongside a therapist.”
So far 3MDR therapy has only been tested in a single study involving a small number of military veterans in the Netherlands. Larger studies, like this one, are now needed and the study is looking to recruit 42 British veterans with military-related treatment-resistant PTSD in Wales.
Veterans will be recruited from the Veterans’ NHS Wales service initially. All 3MDR sessions are provided by experienced psychological trauma therapists in an outpatient clinic run by the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University and located at the University Hospital of Wales site.
Dr Neil Kitchiner, Director of Veterans’ NHS Wales and Principal Investigator on the 3MDR study, said:
“Wales is leading the way in the UK with this novel trauma-focused psychological therapy. Veterans’ NHS Wales has been working with veterans with military-related mental health problems for the past 10 years. We need new evidenced-based therapies to offer those veterans where current psychological therapies have not worked. Our team of experienced psychological therapists are working hard with colleagues from Cardiff University to test 3MDR on this difficult to treat group. We will know if 3MDR works by the end of 2019.”