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Mental Health: PTSD and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) in Adults

  • : Melbourne VIC 3000

Includes: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Co-morbidities; Normal Trauma and Grief Responses; Treatment Options; Therapeutic Communication; Dissociation and Triggers etc.



Most nurses and midwives will encounter someone suffering from Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during the course of their practice. Attend this seminar to learn about:

  • The difference between ASD and PTSD
  • Responses to traumatic events
  • Treatments and therapies
  • Long term prognosis
  • Practical case scenarios


Need for Program

Many Australians experience traumatic events that threaten their health or safety, and some of these people can develop Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Nurses and midwives need to be able to identify people with these conditions, as early as possible, so that appropriate treatments and therapies can be initiated. As ASD or PTSD are often poorly understood and Nurses and midwives may not be familiar with the latest Australian Guidelines for the treatment of these conditions a program that refreshes knowledge on these topics is necessary.

Purpose of Program

This seminar provides nurses and midwives with current knowledge about Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A further aim is to enhance practice relating to these conditions according to current Australian Guidelines.

Your Learning Outcomes
  • Develop skills to identify the signs and symptoms of ASD and PTSD
  • Describe who is most at risk developing ASD and PTSD
  • Be familiar with the current Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder & Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Plan and personalise the care for people with ASD or PTSD
  • Schedule Day One

    8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


    Introduction - review the objectives of the program


    Normal Grief Responses to Trauma

    Although each person’s experience and response to trauma is unique there are a wide range of responses that would be considered 'normal’ or ‘common' reactions. In this session we will look at these 'normal’ and ‘common' responses to trauma. This will include both emotional as well as physical reactions. Topics include:

    • What are common physical reactions to traumatic events in the short and long term?
    • What are common immediate and delayed emotional reactions?
    • Is there a relationship between trauma and grief reactions?
    • Do all people experience these reactions and if not, is this normal?


    Defining Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

    In order to care for those who experience ASD and/or PTSD, it is necessary to understand what these diagnoses entail. In this session, we will examine the notion of stress and trauma and diagnostic criteria as determined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV and DSM 5. Topics include:

    • What is the difference between ASD and PTSD?
    • What constitutes a traumatic event and can a witness to an event be affected?
    • Why do those who experience extreme trauma not always suffer from ASD or PTSD, whilst those who experience mild trauma may develop the condition?
    • Is there a gender bias in regard to who gets PTSD?
    • Can PTSD be caused by a traumatic event in later life or is it always related to childhood traumas?

    10:30am - Morning Tea


    A Brief History of Mental Health and Trauma - Shell Shock and Catastrophes

    ASD and PTSD have relatively recently emerged as psychiatric diagnoses. Many people associate these conditions, particularly PTSD, with war and working in the military. However, it has a long and interesting history and it is not confined to battlegrounds. This session will contextualise these trauma related mental health conditions. Topics include:

    • Cowardice and personal weakness during battle
    • Shell shock and battle fatigue
    • Post-Vietnam syndrome
    • Rape and assault victims
    • Australian and world-wide statistics
    • The development of treatment guidelines


    Special Populations - Mothers, Refugees etc.

    There are many people who may be particularly vulnerable to PTSD. This session looks at:

    • Which groups are people may be particularly vulnerable to PTSD?
    • What can nurses and midwives do in such circumstances?


    When Trauma Causes Long Term Problems


    • What are the long term problems that may arise?
    • How does this affect interpersonal relationships?
    • What are the impacts on day-to-day life?

    1:00pm - Lunch and Networking


    Assessment for Traumatic Stress Conditions

    Assessment needs to be comprehensive and include good history taking skills. The choice of screening tool should reflect the best available evidence. This practical session demonstrates:

    • Are there early warning signs that these conditions may exist?
    • What does a comprehensive assessment for ASD or PTSD consist of?
    • What would make you suspect a person may have ASD or PTSD?
    • How are people screened for ASD or PTSD?
    • How can you elicit information from a person who is deeply traumatised?
    • An evaluation of assessment tools


    Kids and Teens – the Silent Witnesses

    With rising rates of PTSD in society, there are many individuals with the disorder who are also responsible for the care of children. Children and teenagers respond differently to ASD/PTSD than adults. This session will take a close look at the unique ways in which younger children and adolescents deal with the unique stressors of PTSD in themselves and their families.

    3:30pm - Afternoon Tea


    Lost in Thought and Dissociation

    'Zoning Out' or dissociation often occurs when a person is bored and fatigued. However in some people, dissociation can be a symptom of the way in which they are dealing with trauma. In this session we will explore the association between ASD/PTSD and dissociation, including the difficulties in dealing with personal triggers.

    4:45pm - Close of Day One of Seminar

    Day Two

    9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


    Case Study and Introduction to the Treatment Guidelines

    The Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder & Posttraumatic Stress Disorder aim to support high quality treatment of people with ASD and PTSD. In this interactive session you will explore a case scenario that reveals the principles of care.


    Treatment Options for ASD and PTSD

    Early identification of PTSD makes treatment easier as symptoms can get worse over time. This session will look at a range of treatment options available and what nurses and midwives can do to assist the person with the condition.

    • How are these conditions best treated?
    • What role do medications have in treatment?
    • What about animal and other therapies?

    10:30am - Morning Tea


    Psychotherapeutic Communication

    The mainstay of treatment are therapies which involve talking. Using case scenarios his practical session will give you an opportunity to learn principles underlying therapeutic conversations. It includes:

    • How to communicate with highly traumatised people
    • Being acutely aware of cultural sensitivities
    • Working with dissociation
    • Identifying suicidal ideation
    • Collaborating with appropriate professionals


    Does Everyone with Symptoms Need Treatment?

    This discussion will enable you to consider a scenario which will assist you to make clinical decisions that are in the best interest of the patient.

    1:00pm - Lunch and Networking


    Treating and Managing Those with Comorbidities

    You are caring for a person who has been admitted to hospital for surgical intervention for prostate cancer. During the night he experiences anxiety attacks and is exceptionally demanding. This session will look at the appropriate nursing actions that you would take to quickly establish whether this person is also experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. Topics Include:

    • What are the co-morbidities that are commonly associated with ASD and PTSD?


    Trauma-Informed Care

    This practical session looks at the concept of ‘Trauma Informed Care’ which seeks to provide care in a way that does not re-traumatise the person.

    3:15pm - Afternoon Tea


    Clinician and Carer Survival Toolbox

    ASD and PTSD can be very disruptive to those in contact with people who experience these conditions. In this final session we will review the professional implications for caring for this group of people. Includes:

    • Preventing transference from patient to others
    • The role of patience and unconditional positive regard
    • Depersonalising unpleasant communication
    • Valuing the person


    Summary of Program - What Have We Learned?

    4:45pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations


    Geoffrey Ahern

    Geoffrey Ahern

    Geoffrey Ahern is a senior mental health clinician who works with the Victorian Police on a specialised mental health emergency response team called PACER (Police And Clinician Emergency Response). PACER clinicians are on the road with the police responding immediately to triple zero emergency calls that involve mental health. Geoff trained initially as a registered nurse in the early 90s. Over the years, he has gained extensive experience in emergency and trauma, rural nursing, alcohol and other drug counselling, and psychiatric nursing across both the public and private sectors. He also holds a Masters of Health Science (Mental Health and AOD) and is a PhD candidate with Deakin University. When Geoff isn’t working with the police you can find him conducting freelance education for various public and private organisations, raising community awareness and recognition of people developing mental health problems, and averting crisis situations similar to those he sees on the road with police. As an educator, he has been involved in one-on-one mentoring and staff in-services, right through to full-time lecturing at a tertiary level. Geoff is a passionate and creative teacher, bringing to his audience stories and experiences that give life and meaning to the subject areas that he teaches.

    Mental Health: PTSD and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) in Adults
    Speciality Classification
    Interest Areas
    -- GENERAL --
    Provider Type
    11 hours 30 mins
    Start Date
    End Date
    11 hours 30 mins
    Melbourne VIC 3000
    Oaks On Collins , 480 Collins St
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