When patients experience life-threatening medical events, what are the emotional consequences?

 

How can health care professionals improve assessment of and intervention for medical trauma to protect patients’ emotional wellbeing?

 

What are new ways in which mental health professionals can assist health care providers in ensuring that patient care is holistic?

These are but a few of the questions we address in our book Managing the Psychological Impact of Medical Trauma: A Guide for Mental Health and Health Care Professionals — available from Springer Publishing in July 2016.

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Key features of this book include:

 

A ecological and holistic model of medical trauma that includes many types of medical experiences at all levels of care

Case examples from hospitals, specialty care and primary care settings

Extensive, user-friendly assessment tools and new protocols for addressing the mental health needs of patients who experience medical trauma

An exploration of new roles for mental health professionals within the health care setting

Tools for assessing patient distress and improving patient care

Strategies for implementing interprofessional collaborative practice at all levels of care

Excerpt from the Preface :

 

…The story above is my story, and I wish I could say it is wholly unique. The truth is, extreme forms of medical trauma like my childbirth experience happen every day, and have the potential to permanently scar the psyches of patients, their families, and staff long after patients’ physical wounds have healed. Through my numerous conversations with former patients, family members, doctors, nurses, and administrators, I think it’s safe to say that most are currently not prepared to meet the complex needs arising from medical traumas – but my hope is they will be.

My own experience of medical trauma was a double-edged sword in that I felt profoundly grateful towards my health care providers for saving my life following the birth of my daughter, and at the same time was deeply troubled that my emotional health was ignored throughout my entire episode of care. The posttraumatic stress that I experienced following this trauma was the first of many dominoes to fall, and it seemed that no life domain, no relationship, no corner of my mind or cell in my body was safe from the deeply felt memory of it all. To make matters worse, as a clinical mental health counselor I mistakenly believed that it was up to me to find my own way back (or forward) to a place of vitality, hope, and healing. This book is a stop along that journey.

Over the past decade, I have dedicated the life I nearly lost to helping others understand the nature and effects of trauma stemming from life-threatening medical events, chronic and life-altering illnesses, and even some everyday medical procedures. Through this work, I hope to impart insight about the psychological effects of patient-hood, including the impacts of vulnerability, decontextualization, and of receiving health care that is solely focused on the physical body.

Together with my husband and co-author Dr. Scott Hall, I invite you to consider how we can all become better stewards of patients’ emotional health, especially when treatment becomes trauma.

Michelle Flaum Hall, Ed.D., LPCC-S