UAMS Helps Victims of Violence, Disasters

By todd

The program, called SCEPTER, or Survivors of Childhood Abuse, Environmental and Psychological Trauma Treatment, Education and Research, helps victims of rape; physical, sexual and emotional child abuse; other violent crimes, ranging from muggings to terrorist attacks; and environmental disasters, such as tornados and earthquakes. SCEPTER provides psychotherapy and psychiatric medication management tailored to trauma symptoms.

Most medical insurance companies cover the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. To make an appointment, call the UAMS Adult Psychiatry Clinic at (501) 686-8438.

“Trauma survivors experience anxiety-based symptoms that appear in two phases,” according to psychologist and director Betty L. Everett. “One phase is called hyperarousal or the startle response. These people don’t ever feel safe, regardless of where they are or who they’re with. They may experience flashbacks to the traumatic event. Any piece of sensory information – the smell of a particular cologne, the sight of an overhead light in a room, the sound of a man’s voice – has the potential to trigger flashbacks. The other phase is a form of nervous system fatigue that’s characterized by depression, psychological ‘numbing,’ and shock.”

SCEPTER also offers education for health care professionals who treat traumatized patients; conducts research to determine the most effective therapies and to develop new therapies for dealing with these problems; and strives to increase public awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Department of Psychiatry in the UAMS College of Medicine established the program. “Dr. G. Richard Smith, the chairman of the UAMS Psychiatry Department, was instrumental in making this program a reality,” Everett said. “One of his missions is to ensure that Arkansans are able to receive quality mental health care without having to leave the state, and the establishment of SCEPTER plays an important role in accomplishing this.”