Dr. Joe Ruzek is a Founding Director of the Early Intervention Clinic, a research clinic of Palo Alto University which provides brief counseling services to individuals who have experienced a traumatic event within the last two years. Along with co-founder Dr. Matthew Cordova, he supervises Ph.D. student trainees in clinic-based psychotherapy and research. Dr. Ruzek is a clinical psychologist specializing in treatment of post-traumatic stress problems. He currently serves as Director of the Dissemination and Training Division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD. He is coeditor of two editions of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies for Trauma, and a contributing author for the National Center for PTSD’s Iraq War Clinician Guide. He is also a co-editor of Caring for Veterans with Deployment-Related Stress Disorders: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Beyond, published by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Ruzek is a past member of the (VA) Undersecretary’s Special Committee on PTSD and a past member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. He is a member of the team that developed the joint Veterans Affairs–Department of Defense Clinical Practice Guidelines for Management of Traumatic Stress, and has been a lead for the national implementation of Prolonged Exposure evidence-based PTSD treatment within the Veterans Health Administration. Dr. Ruzek specializes in early intervention for trauma survivors and has been active in development and evaluation of early preventive interventions for disaster and terrorism survivors, returning Iraq War personnel, and patients seen in hospital trauma centers. He is an author of the Psychological First Aid field guide created jointly by the National Center for PTSD and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network for the SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services. He is also an author of Skills for Psychological Recovery, a manualized approach to crisis counseling. He is co-chair of the Early Intervention special interest group of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. In recent years, he has been working to develop technology interventions for prevention and treatment of PTSD, including afterdeployment.org, a Congressionally-mandated site for returning Veterans and their families, and PTSD Coach, an educational smartphone app designed to assist individuals with PTSD in managing their acute distress.
The increase in repeated disasters and associated social stressors linked to global warming is likely to affect the mental wellbeing of billions of persons in the 21st century.
“Disaster mental-health workers have never been trained in anything about this,” Ruzek said.
The fight against climate change and its incumbent disasters must include mental health and social service organizations, community and national public health entities, worksite wellness programs, school-based mental health education, climate change organizations that can incorporate new areas of work to include mitigation of mental health difficulties, technology companies interested in improving the wellbeing of their communities, and mental health professionals.
“Phone apps are wonderful because they’re with a person 24/7."
“You can think of coping resources in part as a fixed entity, like a muscle,” says Joe Ruzek, a longtime PTSD researcher at Stanford University and Palo Alto University. “You have a certain amount of energy to deploy,” and at some point the amount required exceeds the amount available.