Serving those who serve: Learning about the military

The Center for Deployment Psychology director gives psychologists a crash course on the military.

By Heather O'Beirne Kelly

At this year’s Practice Leadership Conference hosted in Washington, D.C., David Riggs, PhD, executive director of the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP), led the Practice Organization’s first-ever CE workshop on working with military and veteran populations and their families. One of the primary goals of my new role within the Practice Organization is to encourage our “civilian” member practitioners to seek training in working clinically with these populations, and more than 40 psychologists who attended the conference showed up for this mental health professional "boot camp.”

CDP grew out of an initial collaboration between APA’s Education Directorate staff and Army psychologists to further develop high-quality, culturally sensitive, evidence-based behavioral health care training programs. The Department of Defense took CDP “in-house” over 10 years ago, and it is now headquartered at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, with 12 additional sites (mostly military medical centers) across the country. CDP trains both military behavioral health professionals and civilians in military culture and how best to meet the sometimes-unique behavioral health needs of military personnel, veterans and their family members. Since its establishment, CDP has trained over 40,000 providers in areas ranging from evidence-based psychotherapy to military culture. One of APA’s former congressional fellows, Paula Domenici, PhD, serves as CDP’s director of civilian training programs.

For those of you were unable to join us in person for the training, head to the CDP website for an up-to-date listing of upcoming trainings, including regional weeklong civilian trainings, evidence-based psychotherapy workshops, self-paced eLearning courses, online trainings for CE credit and a couples webinar series. Online resources also include a whole section on military culture, as well as additional information about CDP consultation services, surveillance and prevention information about suicide in the military, and evidence-based therapies for depression, PTSD, TBI, chronic pain and military sexual assault.

About the author

Heather O'Beirne Kelly, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and APA's first director of military and veterans health policy. Watch this space for regular updates on issues ranging from protecting the VA's integrated care system, to advocating for more attention to military sexual assault prevention, to encouraging more systematic training on evidence-based treatments.