I was hugely honoured to be invited to the Wounded Warriors Weekend in Alberta (for Vets who have PTSD) but I turned it down because they did not want me doing a presentation and I would mostly be spending my time getting to know vets in a social context. Respectfully, I declined. Why you ask? Because often as a way of connecting, people will share their experiences of PTSD with me over pizza and beer, or a banquet dinner. They are not doing anything wrong and I appreciate their good faith. However, I’m not going to be able to befriend them nor am I going to be able to perform my responsibilities as a therapist well. All I can do is honour their story and say “I’m very sorry”. It’s inappropriate for me to go into a schpeel about how you can’t heal from PTSD through sharing the information, or ‘news’ as I like to say, about the incident. The healing comes when you invite someone to join you to wade into the emotions, or the ‘weather’, and the right brain thinking about what happened. I guess I’m a bit of a storm chaser in that way. I feel hugely honoured by all the people who have let me wade into the mess, confusion, fear, rage and sadness with them. For me, it feels like helping someone rescue themselves from a sinking vessel. People need to figure out while they are processing their emotions what negative meaning they have made from their experience. Then they need reality checks about their thinking and new skills and resources for coping with their emotions. This is all very simplified of course. It’s kind of like saying that someone with cancer just needs to get chemo and radiation and they’ll get better. However, my point is……I can’t do this over pizza and beer!
Here are a couple of resources related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Canadian Mental Health Association - PTSD
PTSD and EMDR Therapy