Stress Inoculation Training

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan left its destructive wake through Florida's panhandle and the coastal regions of Alabama and Mississippi. Furthermore, due to the Global War on Terrorism operations and the storm's destruction of several military treatment facilities, I became the sole military psychologist providing psychosocial interventions for the region at Naval Hospital, Pensacola, Florida. To address the burgeoning and heterogeneous myriad of patients suffering from various anxiety disorders, I formed a closed process- oriented group utilizing Meichenbaum's Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) model (Meichenbaum, 1993, 1996, 2005).

SIT is a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which enhances one's ability to cope with past, current, and future stressors through three phases of treatment. Patients first leara about the stress response. They are then exposed to anxiety-provoking experiences while acquiring the skills to mange their responses. Finally, patients learn to generalize their newly acquired skill sets to cope with increasingly demanding situations and return to the therapist for "tune ups" as needed. In this model, inoculation is similar to the physical immunity generated by exposure to less virulent forms of diseases. During SIT, exposure to minor stressors in therapy fosters psychological preparedness and promotes resilience.

101 INTERVENTIONS IN GROUP THERAPY CLIENT POPULATION

This particular group met weekly for twenty weeks and consisted of five women and three men. All were navy servicemen and service-women with the exception of one civilian. Ages ranged from twenty-one to fifty-three. Individual members suffered from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder, hurricane-related acute stress disorder, sexual-assault-related post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and general adjustment problems with anxiety.

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