This week Karen Williams-Miles, @
Richardsblister, will be hosting #OTalk. Karen has written the post below for you to get a flavour of the work done at Combat Stress. Karen is happy to discuss the work she does and to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to chatting with you all on Tuesday.
Occupational Therapy and veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The veterans that are referred to us are very high functioning within the context of a mental health diagnosis, some are married and holding down full time jobs so Occupational Therapy within this area is more about an understanding of their culture and the problems they experience once leaving the services.
No two days are ever the same and each veteran is very different to the other. They all have one thing in common, and that is, each and every one of them, regardless of colour, creed, religion or age put their lives in front of our own, to defend, to peace keep or to just keep a watchful eye. So that we may live our lives in freedom.
So one day, I could be going through an initial assessment with someone who has witnessed appalling atrocities in Bosnia, with Ethnic cleansing, involving women and children, rapes, brutality with eventually witnessing slaughter. You may wonder why they can’t stop all this. Well, the order was not to intervene as that would cause even more trouble. This veteran may well have a wife and children at home and he could have seen all this and felt helpless that he had been ordered just to observe. Or then you may have a really young veteran fresh back from Afghanistan (all are now non serving) who has had to live through the horror of his best mate being blown up in front of him, to hold that friends hand and tell him he will be okay, but realising that this very young life is slipping away and there is not a darn thing he can do about it.
All these sorts of traumas happen on a daily basis, some are able to process (well the amygdala and the hippocampus are able to process) but some are not and then you have Post Traumatic Stress disorder. This comes with a myriad of symptoms, hyper-vigilance, hyper-arousal, night sweats, flashbacks, depression…all having a significant impact on their lives. So our job here in Combat Stress Audley Court Occupational Therapy dept, is to restore some occupational balance. Help them learn to communicate with civilians, help them manage their anger and anxiety. grade exposure, build confidence and self esteem. Help them adapt to the civilian way of life. Alternatively, visit their workplace to educate their managers on PTSD. No job is insignificant, we do all we can to help them live their lives their way!
We hold groups on creative self awareness, which are very psycho- social, and groups on well-being and recovery, covering healthier lifestyles, sex, drugs and rock and roll, well, maybe not the rock and roll bit, that comes when they are recovering (grin). We also talk about relapse prevention and we use the WRAP (wellness recovery action plan) significantly. Combat Stress has two programmes, the Brief Intervention programme whereby the veterans stay with us for 2 weeks at a time, and the 6 week Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) based programme, where the veterans are inpatients for the full 6 weeks, and it truly is intensive.