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VR treatment for PTSD focus at Milligan research conference

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (July 20, 2017) — After spending 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a paramedic, Kristy Walker witnessed the impact Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had on her fellow servicemen and women—and was deeply troubled by what she didn’t see.

“Veterans with PTSD are underserved because they often don’t seek counseling due to the stigma associated with it,” said Walker, a student in Milligan College’s Master of Science in Counseling program. “I think there are a lot more vets with PTSD issues than are diagnosed.”

On Thursday, July 27, 6:30-8 p.m. in the college’s Gregory Center, Walker will dive deeper into this topic when she presents research for Milligan’s Counseling Research Conference, addressing new forms of treatment of PTSD, including virtual reality (VR) experiences where veterans can be transported virtually back to the warzone where they first experienced their trauma—and hopefully overcome it. In addition, she will look at Imaginal Exposure treatment, where veterans receive help reimagining the feared situation.

Many other Milligan graduate counseling students will present at the conference on a wide range of topics, including “media use and ADHD,” “mental health disorders among lone-actor terrorists,” and “brain changes associated with mindfulness.” The event is free and open to the public.

“This conference is a great chance for our graduate-level counseling students to showcase their evidence-based research to the community,” said Dr. Joy Drinnon, professor of psychology and director of undergraduate research. “As Kristy Walker has shown with her research into PTSD treatment, our students at Milligan are pursuing interesting and socially-relevant topics, and they are trying to make a real difference in their community.”

Walker said that, unfortunately, the stigma associated with PTSD carried over into the treatment methods, where 50% of those participating in VR and Imaginal Exposure treatments dropped out early—leaving incomplete research data.

When she graduates next year, Walker hopes to make a difference for not only veterans experiencing trauma, but everyone else, by pursuing a career in art therapy to help those in pain.

Learn more about Milligan’s counseling program at www.milligan.edu/msc.

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MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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