If I could tell civilian providers working with veterans and service members with PTSD and other mental health challenges one thing, it would be that this population includes some of the most resilient people on the planet. I think we do a disservice to them by fragilizing them, treating them as if going through these intense therapies—cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and discussions around moral injury and military sexual trauma among others—will break them. On the contrary, during Road Home's two-week intensive program, I have seen undue strength and resiliency demonstrated, which often lead to significant healing.
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What I would want to tell civilian providers that maybe haven’t worked with military populations as much, is that I think the men and women that serve in our military are some of the most resilient people on this planet. And I think we often do them a disservice by fragilizing them. By saying, you know, and treating them as if these intense treatments like prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, discussing openly military sexual trauma or moral injury, that that somehow will be too much for them or will somehow break them. My experience is that the resiliency that is kind of baked into these men and women really comes out in those moments of treatment when you challenge them.
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Brian Klassen, Ph.D., is the Associate Clinical Director for The Road Home Program: The National Center of Excellence for Veterans and Their Families at Rush University in Chicago, Illinois. Brian spent his formative years training at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, completing rotations in chronic pain management, residential substance use disorder treatment, and PTSD. Brian has special expertise in providing front-line treatments for PTSD, including Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy.