The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) offers standard diagnosing criteria for addiction and mental health professionals to use when assisting a client in identifying a substance abuse or mental health disorder. The first version of the DSM was published in 1952 and was developed with the intention to have a standard reference with easy to navigate language. This idea originated from the involvement of psychiatrists in the selection, processing, assessment, and treatment of soldiers during World War II. As research has evolved, adjustments have been made to the categorical sections of the DSM with four major revisions to this point.
As part of his training efforts across Phoenix House locations on the East Coast, nationally recognized expert trainer, Dr. Kenneth Carter, hosted a training on the new DSM-5 for 20 clinical staff at Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic. Dr. Carter is a board-certified clinical psychologist and faculty member at Oxford College, Emory University. He has been referred to as an “intelligent and engaging presenter who uses humor and relevant anecdotes to connect the individual to learning” by John Gordon, National Clinical Trainer at Phoenix House. To make it a more individualized experience, Phoenix House staff provided examples of specific disorders they work with the most, and Dr. Carter spent more time explaining the new diagnosing criteria. While teaching about Anxiety Disorders, Dr. Carter explained that one of the changes to the DSM includes the diagnosing of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Previously, an individual would have to experience fear, helplessness, or horror for at least two weeks. However, clinicians have realized that some populations have been trained not to respond to trauma with the above mentioned, yet still experienced PTSD, such as first responders and military members. This clarification is significant to ensure all individuals receive the appropriate care and treatment by starting with an accurate diagnosis.
The DSM-5 training is an example of Phoenix House’s commitment to ensure that staff are fully equipped with the most up-to-date educational opportunities and best clinical practices. Samson Teklemariam, Director of National Clinical Training at Phoenix House, worked closely with Dr. Carter to design targeted training to meet the specific needs of Phoenix House staff. “I found Dr. Carter to be incredibly knowledgeable,” shared Teklemariam. “Dr. Carter took time out of his schedule each week to share insights on best practices in the addiction treatment industry,” he continued. Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic is grateful for the experience and feels confident in moving forward with the new transition to the DSM-5.