In the years since 9/11 terrorist attacks, the ongoing reality of war has brought post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increasingly into public consciousness as a whole generation of soldiers returns from combat zones carrying the invisible scars of prolonged exposure to the stress of battlefield conditions. In addition, the increasing frequency of domestic terror attacks and mass shootings adds to the count of those sufficiently traumatized to experience the symptoms of PTSD. Traditional treatment approaches do not work for everyone. However, researchers and mental health practitioners have a wide range of options available which can be tailored to bring hope for millions of suffering heroes to grow into a healthy future.
No one approach is a cure all for every case to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD distress. Sufferers may experience:
The Stewardship Report suggests that the traditional approach of psychotherapy and medication may be less effective in many cases than a new approach, known as Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). The new treatment stems from the research of Dr. Rich Tedeschi and Dr. Lawrence Calhoun of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The goal is to help veterans translate their battlefield strengths into a positive contribution to society once they return home. The skills they develop in combat are rare and have the potential to benefit many in their successful re-integration with civilian life. Dr. Tedeschi is working with the Boulder Crest Retreat in Bluemont, VA, a wellness center specializing exclusively in treating combat veterans and their families, to implement a non-clinical treatment that focuses on the veterans’ potential for positive contributions to society rather than on what is wrong with them.
Some of the key features of the alternative treatment that they believe helps veterans’ make a successful transition from combat to civilian life include:
Boulder Crest’s chairman and founder, Ken Falke is a combat veteran and knows first hand the struggle that returning military face in readjusting to life at home. Although medication, group therapy, exposure therapy, meditation, and acupuncture treatments have helped some veterans and other PTSD sufferers, PTG takes a more comprehensive approach, treating the whole gamut of issues through positive re-integration techniques. The beauty of it is that the new openness to alternatives allows mental health professionals to tailor a treatment plan that works for each individual. Nonetheless, Falke points out that combat veterans are intimately familiar with the truism, “what does not kill us makes us stronger.” PTG is a promising look at the future of PTSD treatment that respects the dignity and service of combat veterans and recognizes that hope for their future lies in recognizing that the value of the contributions returned heroes have to offer rather than relegating them to the dark prisons of their own minds. For more CDA News, follow our tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
By Elinore Ruth Van Donge
Photo by Eric – Creative Commons Licensse