Contributed by an anonymous Veteran and Licensed Professional Counselor, Colorado Springs.
Recently, I was asked to offer a perspective on PTSD since June is PTSD awareness month.
The first word that came to mind was “stigma.” The name alone, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) holds some stigma within itself by use of the term “disorder.” As a mental health provider, I do my best to defeat the stigma of seeking mental health treatment and support by talking about mental health as often as possible.
Post-traumatic stress is actually an effect that sometimes develops after exposure to trauma. Some people have higher levels of resiliency and others may have coping skills that are not as effective in resolving exposure to trauma. It is important to realize that the effect of trauma can sometimes (not always) result in the future development of PTSD.
Trauma is exposure to imminent physical or emotional danger whether directly to a person, by witnessing trauma happen to another person, or by being told the details of a traumatic event that has happened to a loved-one.
Another area of stigma associated with PTSD is that it is a life-long “disorder.” PTSD is treatable.
4 Tips for Seeking Help (for PTSD or other mental health needs)
There is no shame in seeking help and in fact, it takes courage to reach out for support for PTSD or any other mental health needs. When a client seeks support, it is important to know that you have full control in how your treatment process goes.
- Finding a Therapist
Check with your insurance provider or the VA to find a list of therapists in your network. There are also lists of therapists who provide support for veterans in the community which can be found through Peak Military Care Network. Alternatively, if you’re willing/able to pay out of pocket this is also an option. Once you’ve got your list of therapists you wish to try, call and ask the therapists on your list if you can meet them or talk on the phone with them for a consultation to see if you might be a good fit for working together on your treatment goals. Many therapist offer initial consultations at no-cost. This can be a helpful way to get to know the person a bit before you decide to proceed with treatment.
- View Therapy as a Collaboration
You and your therapist work together to select a suitable course of treatment. Identify treatment goals. Ask as many questions as you would like to ask to ensure you have a clear understanding about the therapy process with your chosen (or assigned) therapist. The other reason to ask questions is to make sure you feel comfortable with the person working along side you.
- Be Open and Honest for Best Results
If you feel in your gut that there is something you want to discuss–share it. Your therapist is trained to hear you out without judging you or your thoughts/feelings.
- Evaluate your Progress
Throughout your therapy process you and your therapist may check-in to evaluate what is improving, what works, what didn’t work, etc. This is helpful because it gives you a more clearly defined idea of which areas of your life are being impacted by all your hard work in therapy. This is also a good time to adjust course if needed.
As a veteran–I hope for success for other veterans. Wishing veterans success in overcoming the stigma of PTSD and mental health needs in general so that veterans can get their needs met without shame. Wishing veterans success in finding a therapist who is a good fit for you so that you may reap the benefits of a positive therapeutic relationship. And finally, wishing veterans success in healing from PTSD and any other treatable mental health needs.