Michael Hollifield recently joined the staff at Long Beach VA as medical director of the Program for Traumatic Stres. Previously, Dr. Hollifield held positions at the University of New Mexico and the University of Louisville where he was medical director of biobehavioral oncology and the anxiety disorders program. Most recently he was a research scientist at the Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest. Dr. Hollifield received his M.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle, and completed a dual residency training in Family Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico.
Dr. Hollifield’s primary research interests involve anxiety disorders, the effects of severe trauma and adverse life events on health outcomes, how biological and behavioral factors play a role in the negative effects from trauma and adverse life events, and how clinical interventions can help to alter these biobehavioral factors. Of specific interest are effects of natural disaster on refugees in Sri Lanka after the Asian tsunami, and work investigating the use of acupuncture and imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) in the treatment of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His work with refugees focused on determining the impact that natural disaster has on the psychiatric and somatic well-being of those experiencing such a trauma. Results indicated that such an event negatively impacts a large minority of adults up to 20-21 months after the occurrence. However, his work highlights the positive effect of numerous resilience factors to trauma, such as family support, religious practice, inner strength, and Western medical care. Dr. Hollifield’s research demonstrates the importance of further studies examining long-term impact of and recovery from natural disasters.
Dr. Hollifield has also completed projects utilizing techniques targeting symptoms of PTSD on both civilian and veteran populations. His findings with acupuncture indicate that this may be an efficacious treatment for PTSD, with symptom reductions maintained at follow-up similar to those observed in cognitive behavioral therapy group treatment. Similarly, Dr. Hollifield’s examination of IRT with trauma survivors has demonstrated clinically significant decrements in overall symptom severity. In addition, this nightmare-focused treatment that instructs participants to redesign and rehearse recurring nightmares was found to significantly decrease the number of nightmares reported and greatly improve sleep quality. These studies exemplify Dr. Hollifield’s interest in investigating novel therapeutic modalities for those suffering from PTSD and related symptoms.
Dr. Hollifield’s contribution to research, academia, and patient care extends to his activity in prestigious advisory councils and boards. He is on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture, the Editorial Board of General Hospital Psychiatry, a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, and a member of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy.
More about Dr. Hollifield’s work