How Imaginal Rehearsals Help Service Members with PTSD Return to Work


What interventions can help service members with TBI and /or PTSD return to school or work?


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[Lt. Col. Philip Holcombe] Is imaginal or behavioral rehearsals a viable technique to help service members who have post-traumatic stress disorder get back to their occupational pursuits, whether that's academic or whether that's getting back to whatever job it is that they do after they retire from the military, or maybe they're a guardsman or a reservist, when they get ready to come back to their job? It certainly can be. The nice thing about imaginal rehearsals is if you do it collaboratively with the patient, they will tell you what they anticipate. And they help give you the script in what to start thinking about. And they can tell you, yes, I've had this before, and I blew it in this way. Doc, help me think of some ways to problem solve this. And then you imagine it. It's actually not uncommon even in performance enhancement. When you think about athletes, you've probably seen the Olympics in which the diver is off to the side, and they're not in the air, but they're standing there, and they're practicing, and they're looking in their head and doing little movements with their body as they're looking in their head, and they're imagining what they're going to do. The best skiing I've ever done on the lake was because I imagined myself in just the right posture, and I found that I was going for quite some time. Now that was years ago, but I found that I was able to go for quite some time because I just imagined it. So imaginal rehearsal is used all the way from how do I help a person with amygdala and frontal lobe issues to performance enhancement with athletes. So certainly, it could be used to help people anticipate what they need to do within an academic setting or as they're to an occupational setting.
Posted on BrainLine May 8, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine.