Alternative Paths to Healing

Traditional care for veterans with PTSD has primarily relied upon cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacological therapy. However, medical experts are beginning to acknowledge the benefits of alternative treatments as a supplement to the traditional therapies.

In the March/April 2014 issue of Social Work Today, Karen Soltes, LCSW, MAED, E-RYT, a founding partner of Warriors at Ease, reminds us that “not all people who have PTSD present with the same needs or the same symptoms, and no one prescriptive approach works for everyone.”

Because each individual experiences trauma in a different way, one method can’t be said to work equally well for all. People also respond differently to treatment. In some cases, for example, medications have little or no benefit or undesirable side effects.

Healing is a never-ending process of learning what you need to be a whole, happy, healthy person, and the most effective learning comes in a variety of forms. Soldiers suffering with PTSD have found relief in an array of activities that are more than medical treatments. Many of these practices become a part of the daily lives of soldiers and their families.

Yoga Returning soldiers often find relaxing to be a stressful endeavor. After months or years of being on high alert at all times, adjusting vigilance to a more appropriate level can prove challenging. Yoga tailored to meet the needs of soldiers with PTSD allows practitioners to practice relaxation techniques and regain lost calm.

Equine and Pet Therapy Reconnecting can prove to be challenging for many returning soldiers as so few of their companions have had the same traumatic experiences. Veterans may feel as if they are being judged when they share their feelings. Often, therapy involving domesticated animals such as horses and service dogs provides a safe re-entry into developing bonds.

Music Therapy The age-old idea that music can cure the savage beast isn’t far from the truth. Considerable research has been done on the benefits of music, including participating in drum circles. Music can provide a voice for the voiceless, an active meditation, and a means of bonding with others. Thousands of years of human wisdom provide unique and inspiring paths to healing. There’s a path for each of us. Find yours.

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The Raven Drum Foundation began in 2001 to educate and empower individuals and communities in crisis through healing arts programs, drumming events and collaborative partnerships.

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