Dr. Louise Gaston, Ph.D., psychologist
TRAUMATYS, founder and director
After her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Montreal, Dr. Louise Gaston (resume here) completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) with Dr. Mardi Horowitz, author of Stress Response Syndrome. At UCSF, Dr. Gaston acquired an expertise in both PTSD and psychotherapy research. Subsequently, Dr. Gaston was recruited to become an assistant professor by the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, where she conducted clinical studies for many years.
As a researcher, Dr. Gaston collaborated with many colleagues in diverse settings, including at Stanford University. She carried out clinical trials. Her main research topic was the alliance in psychotherapy and its interaction with techniques, as they contribute to better outcomes . She has developed the California Psychotherapy Alliance Scale, CALPAS, an alliance measure which is used as one of the standard in clinical research.
Because PTSD scales had only been developed with veterans on the MMPI-2, Dr. Gaston construct and validated two MMPI-2 scales for civilians with PTSD, acute and chronic, in order to expand the psychometric evaluation of trauma in the general population.
As clinician, Dr. Gaston practiced diverse approaches of psychotherapy, learned through extensive clinical trainings and supervisions spanning over 15 years. Herself, she has been in psychotherapy for a total of 10 years, following diverse models. Extensively trained in treating personality disorders, Dr. Gaston also knows, intimately, the major models of psychotherapy:
TRAUMATYS offers a 2-year advanced training in PTSD developed by Dr. Gaston. Over 100 experienced clinicians (psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, social workers) have already been trained.In 1990, Dr. Gaston founded TRAUMATYS, a clinic specialized in evaluating and treating PTSD. From her clinical experience, empirical findings, and theoretical knowledge, Dr. Gaston developed an integrative model (psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive, behavioral, and neurobiological) for treating PTSD.
Since 1991, TRAUMATYS has evaluated and treated thousands of persons presenting with PTSD, with co-morbidity and functional limitations. According to an independent and retrospective study by the research team of Dr Brunet at McGill University, examining 100 files randomly selected at TRAUMATYS (2004),
• Psychotherapy lasted in average 9 months, ranging from a few months to a few years.
• At termination, the PTSD remission rate was 96%.
In addition, a prospective neurological study of 25 persons treated at TRAUMATYS (Dickie et al., 2011) showed that, using magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI),
• PTSD reductions were associated with activity reductions in key neuronal centers, suggesting a neurobiological resolution :
• Amygdala, AMY (conditioned memory, anxiety, fear, anger)
• Hippocampus. HIP (non-emotional memory, integration of complex informations, etc.)
• Right anterior cingulate cortex, ACC (modulation of affects and behaviors).
• After 6 to 9 months of psychotherapy (while patients continued psychotherapy), the PTSD remission rate was already 65%.
In sum, the concommittent decreases in PTSD symptoms and ACC and AMY activity suggest a decrease in emotional inhibition and trauma resolution.
TRAUMATYS offer a specialized 2-year advanced training in PTSD, which was developed by Dr. Gaston. Over 150 clinicians (psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, and social workers) have already been trained. In addition, a prospective neurological study of 25 persons treated at TRAUMATYS (Dickie et al., 2011) showed that, using magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI),
For many years, Dr. Gaston provided courses of continuing education across the USA:
• Integrating Treatments for PTSD
• Trauma and Personality Disorders
• Memories of Abuse and the Abuse of Memory
• Ethics Working for You
Since 2014, Dr. Gaston is again playing a central role as director of TRAUMATYS, after having devoted many years of her life to meditation while keeping a discrete involvement in TRAUMATYS.In 2015, she has written a nonfiction book, Within the Heart of PTSD: Amazing Stories of Gentle Psychotherapy and Full Trauma Recovery, describing genuine therapeutic journeys. This book aims to inspire PTSD sufferers and the psychotherapists accompanying them. In 2017, Dr. Gaston has published an article entitled Divergent Mechanisms of Change in Trauma-Focused vs. Non-Trauma-Focused Therapies for PTSD in which it is argued that the neuroimagery evidence of today indicates how trauma-focused therapies induce emotional inhibition, rather than lessening it, when PTSD symptoms are reduced by such therapies. In 2019, the article entitled Challenging Beliefs about the Psychotherapy of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) presents evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapies cannot be claimed to be the only effective therapies for treating PTSD and that our actual research methodology is plagued with confounding variables, biasing most research conclusions. Since 2019, Dr. Gaston writes numerous articles as editor for the American magazine Combat Stress and, since 2021, she serves as a member of the Science and Education Board of The American Institute of Stress.
Dr. Gaston is a licensed psychologist in Ohio, USA (P.09008).
”Dr. Louise Gaston, PhD, has devoted a professional lifetime to the understanding and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to the published research, teaching, and above all, dynamic psychotherapy of emotional trauma, she is the founder and director of TRAUMATYS, an established clinic in Montreal dedicated to the treatment of PTSD and the training of a specialized group of psychotherapists. Her book, Within the Heart of PTSD, is available to both professional and general reader, as an informed and deeply compassionate guide to the condition of PTSD and its therapy.
Collaboration between TRAUMATYS and the International Masterson Institute formed a decades-long exchange that has led, on both parts, to increasingly effective treatment of combined personality disorder and trauma. Dr. Gaston contacted us initially to learn more about the Masterson Approach to disorders of the self, and then contributed in turn to our understanding of PTSD. This integration of knowledge has been of much mutual benefit, in both organizations, for strengthening the clinical treatment of patients who too often seek help for disturbances of personality worsened by trauma.” Candace Orcutt, PhD, Former Associate, James F. Masterson, MD, Author, Trauma in Personality Disorder: The Masterson Approach and The Unanswered Self: The Masterson Approach to the Healing of Personality Disorders