Treatments for Veterans With PTSD — Outside the Traditional Toolbox
















Treatments for Veterans With PTSD — Outside the Traditional ToolboxBy Kate JacksonSocial Work TodayVol. 14 No. 2 P. 18Evidence-based practice is the gold standard for treating PTSD, but there’s growing recognition that complementary and alternative therapies may be useful adjuncts to meet the needs of some veterans who’ve experienced trauma.According to Paula Schnurr, PhD, acting executive director of the National Center for PTSD and research professor of psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, current guidelines point to three types of primary treatments for PTSD in veterans: a trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, such as prolonged exposure therapy, mixed cognitive-behavioral therapy, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR); stress-inoculation techniques; and pharmacological therapy, typically involving selective serotonin and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.But there’s growing acknowledgment among veterans and health care providers that these aren’t the only options in the toolbox for clinicians and therapists working with afflicted veterans. There’s increasing recognition that these first-line treatments alone may not be adequate to meet every need of all veterans who’ve experienced trauma, and that even when they’re successful, nontraditional therapies may be useful adjuncts that boost overall wellness.“Not all people who have PTSD present with the same needs or the same symptoms, and no one prescriptive approach works for everyone,” says Karen Soltes, LCSW, MAED, E-RYT, a founding partner of Warriors at Ease, which trains yoga and meditation teachers to support military communities.That’s why spending some time in downward dog may be just what the clinician orders—or should consider—for veterans with PTSD. The Department of Defense and the VA increasingly are embracing a wide range of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture, in the treatment of veterans with PTSD. Among the many sites highlighting the use of CAM techniques with soldiers or veterans are the Warrior Resilience Center at Fort Bliss, TX; the VA Women Veterans Comprehensive Health Center in Durham, NC; and the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program at Fort Hood, TX. Other CAM techniques being offered to veterans include tai chi, biofeedback, massage, hypnosis, guided imagery, and relaxation therapy.

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