Does a psychologist asking a combat veteran, “How do you feel about that” really help?
Are there better methods of pulling warriors out of that black hole? I think so.
First of all, before any long term therapy can produce results a warrior’s basic needs must be met.
The most important of these would be stable employment. An honorable, combat warrior who patiently applies for hundreds of jobs after returning to civilian life; but, who gets no offers after many months or years, may understandably develop resentment and anger. And this can too often lead to a downhill spiral that produces dangerous PTSD- acerbated conflicts.
These destructive reactions are too often experienced most by a warrior’s loved ones. He lashes out at them. And this creates divorce and broken families. And then the emotions created by these painful, passion charged circumstances can lead to substance abuse, fights and arrests. Eventually, this once stellar patriot ruins the trust of everyone and becomes virtually unemployable.
Employing our veterans is critical to their health and to the health of our country. It should take pre-eminence over almost all other veteran programs.
Helping combat veterans to regain a sense of moral worth and a healthy emotional and mental outlook on life is also vital. But again, is traditional psychological counseling the best means to that end?
As a Masters student in Pepperdine’s School of Psychology, I was shocked to discover that there is no conclusive proof that professional psychological counseling is effective for resolving emotional and psychological problems. Peer counseling, group counseling and the use of behavioral modification techniques all have definitive, positive effects. But we continue to address this critical issue primarily with popular, traditional techniques that are not validated by statistical evidence.
It is important that we discuss this because with the rise of PTSD due to our currents wars, many psychologists who have been struggling in this economy are now trying to cash in by offering PTSD counseling. They are beginning to inundate websites, the social networks and the VA with their offers. Millions of dollars are now being earmarked to provide psychological counseling, instead of being invested in more recent and effective methods of dealing with trauma.
Many of the most effective programs are created and run by combat veterans. They include
physical therapy with horses, water sports like surfing, camping, hunting, and gardening. These innovative programs are working wonders. But they are going largely ignored by the VA traditional medical establishment. — One of these vet programs is the Alaska Training Group (www. Aktragru.com). Josh Rivera, the vet-owner, has designed hunting trips in Alaska especially to assist combat vets.
Also, becoming involved with helping other vets with their problems has proven to be particularly effective. In fact, it is probably the best method of all. Focusing on meeting the needs of others, instead of your own problems, is most often an excellent idea and solution.