Traumatic Incident Reduction & The Military Experience
By Nancy L Day, CTS and Captain Stephan Baker
Relief for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be easier than you think! In the arena of mainstream mental health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has finally been recognized and validated as a condition that deserves attention, even if the reason one person experiences PTSD, and another does not, is not completely understood. As is often the case where “traditional” treatment is defended and protected by those who stand to benefit even when it offers little in the way of relief, some non-traditional approaches to healing have gone overlooked. One such approach is Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR).
TIR is one of the many techniques of a subject called Applied Metapsychology (AMP). Psychiatrist Frank A. Gerbode is one of the principal developers of Applied Metapsychology, which was launched in 1986 as a grassroots movement for the purpose of bringing a practical, effective method of resolving the negative effects of excessive life stress and trauma to people who may otherwise not have access to such therapeutic healing. Not fully satisfied with what the traditional approach had to offer, Dr. Gerbode, “Sarge” as he likes to be called, spent more than twenty years researching alternative methods of helping individuals achieve their potential and enhance the quality of their lives. Applied Metapsychology is a comprehensive system of processing and integrating repressed memories, fixed ideas and the like, which cause individuals psychological pain and problems. Applied Metapsychology training, with safeguards built in to protect both the practitioner and the client, is available to anyone with a reasonable degree of intelligence and a desire to help others.
TIR and related techniques may be used to address issues of trauma and stress resulting from circumstances common in the military, some of which are as follows.
Mobilizations: Most often can be a difficult time for spouses and children because they are preparing for that deploying soldier to be gone for a certain length of time. The anxiety and pre-occupation with worry as to whether or not s/he will return can be overwhelming. The soldier may face financial burdens as well because, especially the lower ranks, military personnel may be making less money than s/he was making in a civilian job, which causes financial hardships with regard to paying bills for his/her family. This has been a huge problem.
Deployments: The soldier has arrived at the area of responsibility. There is an acclamation point here where military personnel must adapt to an environment which may be very challenging. At about two weeks, s/he acclimates. After about a month, psychological paradigms start to develop. Sometimes acute depression may be visible, in that some military personnel start to long for home. They key here is that soldiers must keep a sense of awareness and not let their guard down, especially in a forward area with a high threat. This up and down of heightened awareness to keep the soldier alive vs. his/her longing for home leads to that “up and down” syndrome which can lead to other psychosis if not addressed properly. This is called “battle fatigue.” People psychologically get tired.
Employments: The soldier actually is employed to his or her responsible lane. S/he may be stationed at a base as soon as s/he arrives, and depending on the mission in the big scheme of things, s/he may employ to the area s/he will be working in. Again, psychological fatigue may set in over time. Prolonged exposure to stress in the employment phase can be damaging, depending on how close the soldier is to the traumatic event. Exposure to stress can be anything from a soldier seeing another soldier get injured to actually being injured him or herself. There is a lot of activity in theatre, which is quite stressful for anyone who is there for a prolonged period of time.
Re-deployment: End of the tour of duty in the area of responsibility is drawing to an end. Soldiers start to see that home is getting closer. However, there are some dangerous caveats to this for the military personnel. Some become complacent and lose focus while they are still on active duty. Also, and this is a big one, sometimes there are schedule delays in returning home, or extensions of those in place because the replacing unit cannot get there on time, causing distress and anger to those military personnel preparing themselves to leave. Some may try to find ways to get home outside the normal channels. This situation causes a breakdown in morale, and morale and quality of life must be maintained in order for a soldier to be effective in his or her job.
De-mobilization: This is when the soldier actually returns back to the States and is processing back into home station. Re-entry into civilian life, seeing spouse and children for the first time in a while can be a little overwhelming. One might call this “stimulus overload” where the soldier has difficulty integrating and assimilating the feelings associated with the prolonged absence. It is suggested to give the soldier some time to re-integrate. But here other problems may arise. The military personnel may be faced with a spouse not paying bills, other financial problems, kids getting into trouble, or spouses leaving or finding someone else during the soldier’s absence. The returning military personnel may also find that there was no support system to help the family that stayed behind (for example: the wife had to work, take care of three kids, and oh by the way had to be the handy man around the house.) This causes a breakdown in the traditional roles of marriage, which can cause problems in re-adjusting, for the whole family.
The level of resiliency an individual has depends, to a large degree, on how much mental baggage one is carrying. Using Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) and the related techniques of Life Stress Reduction is a very efficient, practical way to help military personnel and family members clear out repressed mental baggage. By doing so, they are able to be more resilient and can more easily handle whatever they are faced with on a day-to-day basis. They are less anxious about what the future will bring. This helps keep couples and families together when they are physically together and when they are separated by
tours of duty
You can learn more about TIR training including the 4-day workshop (with no pre-requisites) by visiting www.TIR.org.
About the Author
Nancy Day is a Certified Trauma Specialist and has been instructing both therapists and lay professionals in the method of Traumatic Incident Reduction and related techniques for more than 10 years. You can contact her by email to firstname.lastname@example.org