Veterans & Military Personnel
How to Access Therapy for Veterans in Toronto, Ottawa, and across Ontario
You have served your country....and you are now struggling
Military veterans often struggle with a range of mental health issues as a result of their service.
Veterans who have experienced traumatic events while serving their country often struggle with mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fortunately, there are evidence-based therapies that can help veterans cope with the effects of trauma.
Veterans often face unique challenges when it comes to mental health and addiction. The stigma surrounding mental health issues can prevent veterans from seeking the help they need, which can worsen their addiction. Additionally, the experiences of combat exposure and trauma can contribute to addiction in veterans. Effective treatment for veterans with addiction should address both the addiction and underlying mental health issues, while also addressing the stigma surrounding seeking help. In this essay, we will explore the stigma surrounding veterans seeking help, how the unique experiences of veterans can contribute to addiction, and the importance of addressing both the addiction and underlying mental health issues in treatment.
The stigma surrounding mental health issues can prevent veterans from seeking help for addiction. This stigma can come from both within the veteran community and from society at large. Veterans may feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek help, as they may view it as a sign of weakness. Additionally, they may fear discrimination or negative consequences if they disclose their mental health issues to those in the department.
Therapy for veterans with PTSD and trauma typically involves evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. For veterans with PTSD, CBT may involve exposure therapy, where the individual is gradually exposed to the traumatic event in a safe and controlled environment. EMDR is another evidence-based therapy that involves the use of eye movements to help individuals process traumatic memories. This therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD in veterans.
Group therapy can be particularly effective for veterans as it allows them to connect with others who have had similar experiences and share coping strategies. Veterans who have experienced trauma often feel isolated and disconnected from others, so group therapy can provide a sense of community and support. In addition, group therapy can help veterans practice communication skills and build relationships, which can be difficult for those with PTSD. Some veterans may also benefit from peer support groups, where they can connect with other veterans who have been through similar experiences.
It is important for therapists working with veterans to have an understanding of military culture and the unique challenges that veterans face in seeking treatment for mental health issues. Veterans may be hesitant to seek treatment due to stigma or concerns about confidentiality. Therapists who are familiar with military culture can help veterans feel more comfortable and understood. In addition, therapists should be aware of the potential for moral injury in veterans, which can occur when they feel that their actions or experiences while serving go against their moral beliefs. Addressing moral injury can be an important part of therapy for veterans with PTSD and trauma.
Therapy for veterans with PTSD and trauma can be a complex and challenging process, but there are evidence-based therapies and strategies that can help. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing are effective therapies, and group therapy can provide a sense of community and support. It is also important for therapists to have an understanding of military culture and the unique challenges that veterans face in seeking treatment for mental health issues. With the right support and treatment, veterans can learn to cope with the effects of trauma and live fulfilling lives.
Some of the most common challenges include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. PTSD is a condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. It can manifest as nightmares, flashbacks, and a sense of hypervigilance, and can be especially prevalent among veterans who have served in combat.
Depression is also a common mental health issue among veterans. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including the stress of deployment, the loss of comrades, and the difficulty of readjusting to civilian life. Anxiety is another common mental health concern among veterans. It can stem from the trauma of combat, as well as from the stress of transitioning back to civilian life.
Other mental health issues that veterans may struggle with include substance abuse, sleep disorders, and traumatic brain injury. It's important to note that not every veteran will experience mental health issues, but for those who do, it's important to seek help. Many organizations and programs are available to help veterans address these challenges, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans' service organizations, and community-based programs.
Can therapy assist veterans and active service members with their mental health struggles?
There are several types of therapy that have been shown to be helpful for veterans in the military, including:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy helps veterans change negative thought patterns and behaviors that may be contributing to mental health issues. It can be used to treat PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE): This type of therapy is specifically designed to help veterans with PTSD. It involves gradually exposing the veteran to the traumatic memories or triggers in a controlled and safe environment, which can help reduce the emotional impact of the memories over time.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): This type of therapy uses eye movements or other bilateral stimulation to help veterans process traumatic memories and reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): This type of therapy combines CBT and other therapies to help veterans with PTSD, depression, and other mental health concerns that stem from trauma.
Mindfulness-based therapies: These therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, can help veterans reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety and improve overall well-being.
It's important to note that not all therapies will work for every veteran, and it may take some trial and error to find the right treatment. Working with a mental health professional who is experienced in treating veterans can be helpful in finding the best approach for an individual veteran.
Several of our therapists are registered to work with Veterans Affairs Canada and Medavie Blue Cross for coverage of veterans with VAC.