How Counseling is Helping Veterans with PTSD

Joshua Shuman Psychologist

The mental health of our veterans is a topic that deserves our utmost attention and care. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent and debilitating condition that affects many veterans after their service. In the following article, Joshua Shuman Psychologist explores the challenges faced by these brave individuals and discusses how counseling is helping these afflicted veterans, through various evidence-based treatments and support systems, leading to healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Understanding This Disorder in Veterans

Posttraumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, is a mental health condition that may arise following the experience or observation of a traumatic event. It was officially recognized as a diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980. Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder may experience.

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Substance abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Chronic intrusive thoughts

Health conditions commonly associated with PTSD include depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The pursuit of treatment can significantly enhance a veteran’s overall well-being and prevent comorbid conditions.

Historically, mental health difficulties experienced by veterans upon their return from combat, which also impact their mental and physical health, have been referred to as:

  • Soldier’s Heart
  • Shell Shock
  • War Neuroses
  • Combat Stress Reaction
  • Battle Fatigue

These terms were used to describe what is now known as PTSD. Those with symptoms should not hesitate to seek treatment, as timely intervention is often key to more positive outcomes and an improved quality of life.

Evidence-Based Treatments for PTSD

Joshua Shuman Psychologist

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that assists individuals in recognizing and confronting negative thought processes and beliefs connected to their trauma. Cognitive processing therapy, as an evidence-based treatment, has been demonstrated to reduce symptoms of PTSD, such as anxiety and depression, and enhance overall mental health.

CBT can provide a beneficial reframing of the negative thoughts associated with war-related trauma, which can create an environment conducive to healing. By helping veterans identify and change negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping strategies, CBT can significantly improve their mental health and overall well-being.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that utilizes guided eye movements and imagery to assist a patient in reprocessing traumatic memories, thereby reducing the distress they may cause. During the session, the patient is instructed to move their eyes back and forth or listen to specific sounds; this process is believed to alter neurological pathways in the brain.

Research has demonstrated that EMDR therapy can ameliorate PTSD symptoms in veterans, such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks. Additionally, it can aid combat veterans in managing their emotions and coping with stress.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an innovative approach to assisting clients in becoming aware of and managing their unwanted thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. The purpose of psychological flexibility in ACT is for the client to stay in the moment and accept their emotional distress while focusing on what is most meaningful to them–their personal values and objectives.

The reasoning behind ACT is that memories of traumatic events cannot be forgotten, so how can one learn to accept and effectively manage emotional distress? The core principles of ACT are mindfulness and psychological flexibility. By helping veterans accept and live with emotional distress while focusing on personal values and goals, ACT can contribute to improved mental health and overall well-being.


By addressing the unique needs of veterans with PTSD and working to overcome barriers to treatment, we can help ensure that these brave individuals receive the care and support they need to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. Let’s work together to create a more understanding and supportive environment for our veterans as they navigate the challenges of PTSD.

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