Advocating for CETA, a New Methodology for Trauma-Related Disorders

After being trained in the CETA (Common Elements Treatment Approach) in 2015, SUD Program Supervisor John-Paul Sharp has seen the four-part treatment approach successfully work for many Sound clients dealing with symptoms of trauma-related disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.

His own client successes are backed up by a recent study trial that shows CETA reduced depression scores among refugees in Thailand (a low-resource setting) by 77 percent.*

John-Paul is so impressed by the effectiveness of this methodology that he wants to encourage as many clinicians as possible to learn about CETA and include it in their clinical practice. “This is a different treatment regiment for clients — one that helps them become more skilled and knowledgeable,” he emphasizes. “It is transformative.”

“With this new approach, a therapist encourages thoughts that lead to more manageable emotions that result in more effective/helpful behaviors. This new way of thinking is reinforced throughout the neural pathways, and over time, new habits are formed,” he explains.

The goal of the treatment is to change core beliefs through a combination of psychoeducation (teaching clients their symptoms are normal and experienced by others), relaxation skills, cognitive behavioral therapy, and trauma memory reprocessing. “Clients are taught that changing how they think about an event can change their feelings and behavior,” he says.

Danny Wills is an example of one of John-Paul’s clients who feels like a “changed man” after being treated with a combination of CETA therapy and nonviolent communication techniques. (See Danny’s story in this newsletter).

“Danny was stuck in a narrative about key moments in his life. We revisited his stories, wrote them down, then read them to each other. The trauma incident was seen as a story, instead of flashes of emotion that were felt physiologically. Once he saw the whole story as a cohesive arch with a beginning, middle, and end, he came around to feeling safe again. The stories are then stored in the hippocampus as a cohesive whole, not fragmented feelings.”

“Danny is successful now because all the things that caused him to overreact lessened with gradual exposure to the stories in a safe environment,” John-Paul says. “This can be applied with many clients who may be suffering from PTSD and trauma-related conditions.”

John-Paul is dedicated to increasing the number of clinicians who are trained in CETA and raising awareness by the public of its value in treating trauma-related symptoms. CETA training is offered by the DSHS Division of Behavioral Health & Recovery throughout the region. Sound is often a collaborative partner.


*To read the CETA study, “A Transdiagnostic Community-Based Mental health Treatment for Comorbid Disorders: Development and Outcomes of a Randomized Controlled Trial among Burmese Refugees in Thailand,” go to PLOS Medicine (Open Access):

More News From Sound

Receive Updates About Sound!