By its very nature, war is traumatic. It is normal that there will be after affects from experiencing multiple traumatic events and different human beings have different ways of coping with and processing these.
For some, combat related post traumatic stress symptoms will subside in time with support from family and friends. Active military personnel and veterans can however, suffer from symptoms such as mood swings, angry outbursts, unexplained crying, nightmares and flashbacks, into the longer term.
Self medication with drugs, alcohol and withdrawal from society are common ways of trying to manage these emotions. Relationships may break down and individuals can end up homeless or caught up in the criminal justice system. Such is the stigma attached to seeking support for mental health issues, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that effective help is often not accessed until years after exposure to war.
Finding a therapist who is not only available to listen, but also has the ‘capacity to tolerate’ what is heard and offer therapeutic intervention, is important. It can be useful to talk to one or two counsellors before making a decision about who to work with. This could be someone from the services or a civilian therapist may be preferred.
As evidence suggests, the key lies in the dynamic of the therapeutic relationship between client and counsellor. And sometimes, telling your story may be enough to help you start to feel more yourself again.
My role as a psychodynamic therapist is to listen to what you have to say and think together with you about some of the themes and feelings that you raise, not to advise. I aim to support you in a way that feels useful to you, to find your own solutions. You are in control. And the service is confidential.
If you think you (or perhaps someone you know) may be suffering from combat related mental health issues, finding support through counselling is one option you (or they) may wish to consider. I am also happy to work with partners of military personnel or other family members. To contact me, see here.
**I am registered with the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) to practice independently, I am not employed by the NHS or Armed Forces.**
EQUINE ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY:
Two Ash Stables – supporting service & ex-service personnel & families, Derbyshire
EAGALA Military Services – resources & programmes, USA
PTSD: a portrait a short film by Matthew Elliot
Blogpost about Moral Injury by Laura K Kerr PhD 2015
Window of Tolerance with simple breathing/grounding exercises, Laura K Kerr 2015
Working with horses in the Scottish countryside at HorsebackUK supports combat-related PTSD
Tending to the ‘invisible wounds of conflict’ at Gardening Leave in Ayr.
The Coming Home Centre at the Pearce Institute, Govan, Glasgow provides a warm welcome and stepping stones for ex-Service personnel and families.
Research by Harford, D. & Widdowson, M. Quantitative and Qualitative Outcomes of Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy with Male Armed Forces Veterans in the UK presenting with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. International Journal of Transactional Analysis Research, July 2014, Vol 5(2), p.35 Available from: http://www.harfordtherapy.com/aboutme.htm
Diary Rooms: being human on the front line in Afghanistan by war artist Derek Eland 2014
Soldier, veteran, survivor article by Mervyn Wynne Jones, Private Practice, Autumn 2013
Afterwards three former servicemen tell their stories by Mark Frankland, 2012
A former serviceman’s personal account of using nature (ecotherapy) as a supportive resource
MIND’s explanation of post-traumatic stress disorder