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Joan M. Cook

Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine
Chapter Member: Connecticut SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Joan

Dr. Cook has over 100 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of traumatic stress, geriatric mental health and implementation science. Dr. Cook has worked clinically with a range of trauma survivors. She has served as the principal investigator on eight federal grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. She was a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) Guideline Development Panel for PTSD and the 2016 President of APA’s Division of Trauma Psychology.

In the News

Opinion: "For a Prescription Against School Shootings, Ask Your Doctor," Joan M. Cook, Newsweek, January 10, 2023.
Opinion: "Encouraging Bravery and Fortitude in Dismantling the Insidious Stronghold of Racism," Joan M. Cook (with Jennifer M. Gómez), The Hill, July 3, 2020.
Opinion: "Justice for George Floyd Is a Must. But to End the Cycle, We Need Dialogue ," Joan M. Cook, Newsweek, June 5, 2020.
Opinion: "Dear Donna Rotunno: Sexual Assault Is a Public Health Crisis. Your Reckless Words Hurt All of Us," Joan M. Cook (with Anne P. DePrince), Newsweek, February 20, 2020.
Opinion: "Sexual Trauma Is a Global Public Health Issue," Joan M. Cook, The Hill, September 19, 2019.
Opinion: "Becoming Numb to School Shootings Won’t Save Anyone," Joan M. Cook, Time, February 5, 2018.
Opinion: "This May Be Why Some of Us Have Given Up on Gun Control," Joan M. Cook, Time, December 2, 2016.
Opinion: "What 9/11 Taught Us About Helping Trauma Survivors," Joan M. Cook, Time, September 9, 2016.
Opinion: "How to Help ‘Underserved Victims’ of Violence," Joan M. Cook, CNN, July 18, 2016.
Opinion: "Police Could Face This Invisible Injury," Joan M. Cook, CNN, July 12, 2016.
Opinion: "Doctor-Assisted Suicide Cannot Be an Answer for Trauma Victims," Joan M. Cook, Time, May 12, 2016.
Opinion: "Why People React to Terrorism News Differently," Joan M. Cook, Time, March 22, 2016.


"Older Adults with PTSD: Brief State of Research and Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Case Illustration" (with Elissa McCarthy and Steven R. Thorp). The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 25, no. 5 (2017): 522-530.

Provides highlights of the empirical research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in late life as well as a description of, and efficacy for an evidence-based psychotherapy for PTSD. Demonstrates that evidence-based psychotherapy for PTSD can be safely and effectively used with older individuals.

"Perceived Characteristics of Intervention Scale: Development and Psychometric Properties" (with Richard Thompson and Paula P. Schnurr). Assessment 22, no. 6 (2015): 704-714.

Discusses the development of The Perceived Characteristics of Intervention Scale (PCIS), an assessment tool that was created to evaluate healthcare providers' views on interventions. Findings show PCIS to be a reliable measure with preliminary support for its validity. Emphasizes that understanding providers' perceptions of evidence-based treatments, as measured by the PCIS, can aid in improving the dissemination, implementation, and sustained use of these treatments.

"Preferences for Trauma Treatment: A Systematic Review of the Empirical Literature." (with Vanessa Simiola, Elizabeth C. Neilson, and Richard Thompson). Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 7, no. 6 (2015): 516–524.

Reviews and synthesizes existing literature on the treatment preferences of trauma survivors. Results indicate a preference for psychotherapy over medication among participants, with a preference for discussing their trauma. Emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing trauma patient preferences to enhance treatment initiation, engagement, retention, and outcomes.

"VA Residential Provider Perceptions of Dissuading Factors to the Use of Two Evidence-Based PTSD Treatments." (with Stephanie Dinnen, Vanessa Simiola, Richard Thompson, and Paula P Schnurr). Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 45, no. 2 (2014): 136–142.

Explores the implementation of two evidence-based treatments (prolonged exposure and cognitive processing therapy) at residential posttraumatic stress disorder treatment programs. While many providers reported no specific patient factors dissuading the use of these treatments, three broad categories emerged for perceived unsuitability: psychiatric comorbidities, cognitive limitations, and low patient motivation. Suggests potential solutions to address provider concerns, including educational and motivational interventions.

"A Consensus Statement on Trauma Mental Health: The New Haven Competency Conference Process and Major Findings." (with Elana Newman). Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 6, no. 4 (2014): 300–307.

Discusses the insufficient knowledge and training among psychologists in the field of traumatic stress despite the extensive scientific literature on the subject. Presents a comprehensive model of core competencies when working with trauma survivors, based on the New Haven Competencies consensus conference. The proposed trauma competencies aim to serve as a foundation for the future training of a trauma-informed mental health workforce.

"Prevalence of Physical and Sexual Assault and Mental Health Disorders in Older Women: Findings From a Nationally Representative Sample" (with Corey Pilver, Stephanie Dinnen, Paula P. Schnurr, and Rani Hoff). The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 21, no. 9 (2013): 877-886.

Investigates the prevalence and characteristics of physical and sexual assaults among older women and their association with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Findings show that despite not always considering interpersonal violence their "worst" traumatic event, those who experienced such violence were more likely to meet criteria for past-year and lifetime PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Suggests the need for improved identification and treatment of older female trauma survivors by healthcare providers.

"Psychological Resilience in Older U.S. Veterans: Results From the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study" (with Robert H. Pietrzak). Depression and Anxiety 30, no. 5 (2013): 432-443.

Investigates psychological resilience in older U.S. veterans. Findings show that among older U.S. veterans who have endured a high number of traumas in their lifetimes, nearly 70% are psychologically resilient in later life. Suggests that enhancing social connectedness, community integration, and purpose in life may promote psychological resilience in older veterans who have experienced significant traumas.

"Imagery Rehearsal for Posttraumatic Nightmares: A Randomized Controlled Trial" (with Gerlinde C. Harb, Philip R. Gehrman, Mark S. Cary, Geraldine M. Gamble, David Forbes, and Richard J. Ross). Journal of Traumatic Stress 23, no. 5 (2010): 553-563.

Investigates the effectiveness of imagery rehearsal for the treatment of combat-related nightmares in Vietnam War veterans with chronic, severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Findings suggest that six sessions of group-based imagery rehearsal did not substantially improve chronic, severe PTSD in Vietnam War veterans.

"What Do Psychotherapists Really Do in Practice? An Internet Study of Over 2,000 Practitioners." (with Tatyana Biyanova, John Elhai, Paula P. Schnurr, and James C. Coyne). Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 47, no. 2 (2010): 260–267.

Discusses findings from a survey of over 2,200 North American psychotherapists, highlighting that psychotherapeutic integration is common, with most therapists identifying with multiple theoretical orientations or having an eclectic approach. Emphasizes the importance of understanding therapists' tendencies to integrate techniques when disseminating empirically based therapies.

"Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Current Relationship Functioning Among World War II Ex-prisoners of War." (with David S. Riggs, Richard Thompson, James C. Coyne, and Javaid I. Sheikh). Journal of Family Psychology 18, no. 1 (2004): 36-45.

Examines the association between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the quality of intimate relationships in present-day male World War II ex-prisoners of war (POWs). Findings show those with PTSD reported more relationship problems compared to those without PTSD. Ex-POWs with PTSD experienced difficulties in adjustment, communication, and intimacy. Emotional numbing was significantly associated with relationship difficulties independent of other symptom complexes and severity of PTSD.