Therapy for Veterans

As more and more military troops return home to their families, it is easy to only think about the long awaited reunions. However, deployment has a way of changing someone. Returning to civilian life may present some significant challenges for these service men and women. Many families have been torn apart because the individual who came home from the military is so different from the person who left all those months or years ago.

veteran and ptsdThese changes, of course, are completely unintentional, but after experiencing the rigid lifestyle of the battlefield, the relaxed pace back home can seem lazy and careless. Moreover, witnessing the suffering of battle and losing comrades, who have become like a family, can leave permanent scars. Eventually, many soldiers become callous and unemotional. This subconscious defense mechanism helps an individual cope with a reality in which opposing forces are constantly trying to kill him.

While this is an effective means of survival during deployment, it is of particular concern to spouses who do not know how to interpret this uncharacteristic behavior. In military life, soldiers learn to read one another and communicate with few or no words. However, at home communication between partners often suffers, which leads to arguments. Because it is so difficult to have a conversation without a disagreement, many veterans simply withdraw altogether, becoming isolated from all social situations.

Though there are considerable challenges for veterans and their families, there are effective methods that have helped countless military families achieve the patience and understanding required to heal and develop a stronger bond.

Prolonged Exposure

This therapy is effective in over 80 percent of individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder. This individualized behavior therapy recreates the traumatic event through memory and engagement. This unique form of therapy forces the individual to face the event and its triggers head-on. With time, the individual will develop confidence and courage, eventually overcoming it altogether.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Developed by Francine Shapiro specifically to help rape victims and PTSD patients and based on her theory that traumatic experiences overwhelm cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms. Consequently the memory of the event is incorrectly processed and stored as a defective memory. EDMR effectively subdues the influence of these troubling memories and helps patients develop more appropriate means of dealing with it.

Cognitive Processing Therapy

A variation of cognitive behavior therapy, cognitive processing therapy works to help individuals process the traumatic memories, thereby reducing the effect of their triggers. In this form of therapy, specific situations are broken down into more manageable events, helping the individual understand his feelings and adapt better coping mechanisms.

With all of the sacrifices they make to protect their country, veterans deserve to lead healthy, fulfilling lives once they return home. While there are no quick fixes for the mental and emotional damage sustained in combat, therapy can provide hope and enable veterans to regain control of their lives.

 

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