Therapy for veterans
Is Life as a Civilian More Challenging than You Expected?
- Are you recently retired from the military or on active reserve duty?
- Have you found it difficult to adjust to civilian life after spending a career in uniform?
- Do you struggle with anxiety, depression, or symptoms of post-traumatic stress as a result of having worked in intense and critical situations for so long?
You may have developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares that stir up painful memories. Perhaps an inability to relax has caused you to feel irritable, agitated, and on edge all the time. And maybe sensations of hopelessness and despair have set the stage for anxiety and depression to develop alongside these symptoms of unresolved trauma.
It’s possible that you’re struggling with addiction as a result of post-traumatic stress and that co-occurring conditions of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse have accumulated.
PTSD is prevalent among veterans and active military individuals often feel the need to numb themselves from remembering violent and traumatic experiences.
After a career in the military, it can be hard to adapt to a world where your experiences are not understood. Finding common ground and forging connections with other civilians is difficult when what you witnessed on the job is likely unimaginable to the average person. As a result, you may feel the need to stay connected to that world through work or social engagements, which is potentially isolating you from the general community at large and preventing you from having the “normal” civilian experience.
Having served in the military myself, I understand the challenges you’re facing, and the risks connected to not seeking help for your mental health issues. And that’s precisely why I have incorporated therapy for veterans into my counseling practice.
Leaving the Military Can Cause Us to Feel Distressed and Directionless
Upon re-entering civilian life, veterans can have a wide range of experiences and face a wide range of challenges. Some of us may have no problem adjusting to life in the immediate aftermath of discharge, only to realize months later that we’re struggling, while others of us may feel an immediate sense of doom and aimlessness upon leaving the military. For all of us veterans, it can feel difficult to maintain a sense of purpose after leaving a position so closely intertwined with honor and duty.
While we were in training or being deployed, our friends and families went about their lives, strengthening bonds, developing new interests, and spending precious time with one another. And so, we may feel isolated from our most central relationships and maybe even worry that we don’t have a place at home any longer.
After being a figure of strength, courage, and resilience, seeking help and becoming emotionally vulnerable can be extremely hard. After all, as veterans, we are so used to being resourceful enough to solve our own problems.
But I want to assure you that there is no shame in seeking support when it comes to issues of mental health, though you may not know where to begin your search for relief in this uncharted emotional territory.
Therapy for veterans can help those of us who have spent careers working under stressful and dangerous circumstances and are now struggling to readjust to civilian life.
Specially Designed to Help Military Personnel Find a Sense of Normalcy and Purpose
I understand the culture and experience that you are coming from. I am able to cultivate a safe and empathetic space where you can feel free to explore your emotions. I can balance my own perspective as a veteran with an extensive background in therapy. I will help to normalize your mental health challenges while providing you with effective tools and strategies for overcoming them.
We will begin the counseling process by first and foremost addressing immediate concerns. Whether you’re struggling with life stressors, symptoms of PTSD, depression, or anxiety, we can problem-solve to figure out how you can find healthy and sustainable relief as quickly as possible. And the more I get to know you, the more I will be able to tailor-make strategies for decompressing so that you can feel relaxed and present in your daily life.
As you begin to see some of the surface symptoms subside, we will start working on unpacking the why behind your stress responses and behaviors. Using solution-focused therapy and psychoeducation, I will provide you with a solid foundation for understanding how the brain responds to trauma. It’s likely that you may have internalized stress in such a way that may have been adaptive—even vital—at one point but is now causing problems in your day-to-day life and relationships.
We can use the gentle but highly effective evidence-based approach of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) throughout our therapy sessions to target the traumatic memories that are keeping you from moving forward in your life. Using auditory or visual cues, EMDR clears the neural pathways that have been blocked by trauma so that you can re-establish a new and less distressing relationship to past pains. Though a relatively new and unconventional method, EMDR has proven to be an especially effective treatment for veterans struggling with PTSD.
What therapy can do for you
Therapy gives you an opportunity to learn about and regulate your emotions so that you can more effectively navigate the transition between active duty and veteran status. And because I will work with you to incorporate specific strategies for coping, you’ll be better prepared to handle symptoms of emotional and mental distress as they bubble up to the surface.
You are not alone!
There are treatments and solutions for all of the challenges you may be experiencing as a veteran, including PTSD and substance abuse.
The possibility of peace and self-acceptance is within your reach. And if you can make a commitment to counseling, you are likely to see lasting and positive changes in your life as a civilian.
This is a very common concern when it comes to therapy for veterans in particular. And I recognize that there is a stigma attached to seeking help with your mental health. But by exploring this fear in our sessions, you’ll likely begin to see that it takes great strength—not weakness—to confront and navigate your emotions. It’s extremely common for veterans to experience symptoms of PTSD and emotional distress. And my hope is that therapy normalizes and validates your experience, paving the way for self-acceptance and positive change.
We all need help learning how to navigate new and uncharted territory. There will always be times in life when we need guidance from experienced professionals to show us the way. I am here to give you tools and help you learn how to cope on your own so that you can solve problems, eventually returning to a life where you feel prepared and capable to navigate challenges on your own.
If you are the partner, friend, or family member of a veteran who is adjusting to civilian life, it’s important to first and foremost be patient. This adjustment takes time and affects every person differently. Your loved one may be struggling with unresolved trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, or substance abuse, and providing them with nonjudgmental support will be key to their recovery.
Besides motivating them to seek support groups and therapy with a professional that specializes in working with veterans, you can encourage your loved one to engage with civilian life in positive ways. That can include introducing them to new activities, friendships, and experiences that will help them to relax and re-establish a sense of joy in their life.
You Can Learn to Create New Opportunities and Positive Experiences
If you’re a veteran struggling with unresolved trauma and the transition back to civilian life, therapy can help you establish skills for coping and engage with the world in a positive way.