The Smith College Program in Psychiatric Social Work: A Pioneering Contribution to Veteran Mental Health

Fred Lerner
  • Smith College Studies in Social Work, June 2018, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2018.1477313

The First Course on PTSD for Mental Health Professionals

What is it about?

How and why did the Smith College Training School of Psychiatric Social Work come into being? What was the experience of those who taught and learned there? What effect did the Training School have on the treatment of PTSD in the postwar years?

Why is it important?

The Smith College Program in Psychiatric Social Work not only provided the first organized course to train mental health workers to deal with what we now know as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it also contributed to the expansion of professional opportunities for women and the broadening of the social work constituency in America.


Fred Lerner (Author)

Although historians have discovered descriptions of PTSD in sources as ancient as Homer's Iliad, and medical literature on PTSD goes back to the American Civil War, it was only with World War I that it entered the public consciousness (as "shell shock"). Having worked at the National Center for PTSD for a quarter century I was naturally interested in the path leading to today's emphasis on research and clinical treatment of this widely occurring mental disorder. This article tells an important early aspect of that story.

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