Fueling PTSD Recovery
Friday, May 1st, 2009 • Uncategorized •
Next week we’ll move on to a really critical task in PTSD recovery: Educating those around us. How family members, friends and colleagues understand and perceive PTSD, plus our experience of it, drastically impacts our relationships, careers and healing. Beginning on Monday the workshop will spend the next month exploring the 5Ws of how to educate those around us about how we’re living and coping with – and healing – PTSD. If you have specific situations you’d like addressed, feel free to shoot me an email with suggestions.
The final topic in this month’s focus on education is one that (while I’ve written about it before) I, personally, have not experienced: group therapy. When I was initially diagnosed with PTSD I was too afraid to speak with other survivors. I was frightened that I was too weak in my own self to bear someone else’s pain or aberrant behavior. I was afraid I’d be sucked into someone else’s experience when the truth was, I could barely withstand my own. My whole perception of group therapy was that it would overwhelm me with too much emotion and crash my fragile coping house of cards. OK, so I was wrong about all of that.
Since then, I’ve learned a couple relevant things:
1 – when we practice erecting emotional boundaries we insulate ourselves from the pain drain.
2 – when we reach out to and interact with other survivors an amazing thing happens: we discover a meta-level of communication that’s all ours; we bridge the gap of our isolation in a very unique way. Connecting with survivors can be like coming home from traveling abroad and suddenly, you’re back in a country where everyone speaks your language.
The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs describes group therapy this way:
In group therapy, you talk with a group of people who also have been through a trauma and who have PTSD. Sharing your story with others may help you feel more comfortable talking about your trauma. This can help you cope with your symptoms, memories, and other parts of your life.
The disappointing thing (and one for which I intend to advocate change) is that PTSD support groups are not yet ubiquitous. In my county, for example, there are none outside of the VA system and those do not allow civilians. Which leaves us with these options:
3 – Ask your therapist to start a PTSD group!
3 – Join another existing group related to PTSD. For example, anxiety or anger management.
Do you have experience with group therapy? Share your knowledge with everyone by leaving a comment.