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This Doc is Helping Veterans Recover from Trauma

COMBAT TRAUMA

Many veterans return home from combat and wonder if it is possible to find peace. They feel disconnected from their loved ones and struggle to process their experiences. It is important for these soldiers to know they are not alone. One US combat veteran dies by suicide every hour. Over 90 percent of our combat veterans profess a belief in God and goodness, but many lose their faith after experiencing the horrors of war. Others may fight guilt from actions they had to engage in or be a part of on the battlefield. 

Dr. Tiffany shares, “A traumatic experience is an event that causes us intense psychological distress, so much so that it jumbles our view of ourselves, the world and our spiritual belief systems. Such a traumatic event keeps us stuck in a pattern of unhealthy thinking, feeling, and behaving.”

Psychological processing of whatever trauma has been experienced is necessary for healing to take place. Your brain must emotionally “digest” your life experiences. When a traumatic event occurs your brain experiences “indigestion.” It is possible to work through your brain indigestion, but it takes times. First, you must process an event to make sense of it.

Then, you need to dissect what happened by examining your thoughts, emotions, and behavior based on your spiritual belief system. Many veterans do not work through their brain indigestion. Instead, they avoid talking about painful events which is the main symptom of posttraumatic stress (PTSD). The hazard of not processing a traumatic event is that your way of thinking (thoughts, emotions, behaviors) becomes twisted which leads to anxiety. These flawed thought processes and hopelessness can lead many soldiers to suicide.

TWISTED GUILT vs. TRUE GUILT

After experiencing a traumatic experience some veterans struggle with twisted guilt. This is when you blame yourself for an external event over which you had no control. You manipulate truth and reality by convincing yourself you had control of external events. You feel you could’ve or should’ve done more to prevent the injury or death of your fellow soldier.

For example, a medic may punish herself emotionally for losing a life on the battlefield. Over the years, the guilt may manifest in her being angry and irritable which affects those around her and ultimately can destroy her family, her connection to God, and even herself. On the other hand, actual guilt is when your chosen behavior directly and negatively impacts another. For example, having an affair on your spouse.

Dr. Tiffany shares the story of Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Paco, head cook, at his dining facility who struggled with PTSD after his assistant, Senior Airman (SrA) Kim, was killed. Two mortars hit their dining facility at lunch. Her death was extremely difficult for him, but he didn’t take time to mourn and struggled with twisted guilt for years. Finally, he sought help for PTSD. Then his quality of life improved and he developed better relationships with those around him.      
                                    
WHERE IS GOD IN WAR?

When in session with combat vets Dr. Tiffany is often asked, “Where is God in war?” It is important to understand that war begins when a person or group of people places their selfish wants, needs, and beliefs above the freedom and benefits of others. She says, “God is not responsible for our wickedness – we are!” 

War may at times be necessary to protect our freedom, home and country, but God does not like war. “If it’s not love, it’s not God,” reveals Dr. Tiffany. When events happen, you have a choice to convert the consequences of the bad events (even war) into something positive and productive, but you have to take the first step to deal with unresolved and unprocessed toxic thoughts.                            

RHYTHM RESTORATION (RR)

Dr. Tiffany has developed a process to bring healing to individuals who have experienced spiritual and psychologist trauma from their combat experiences:

•    Confronting the hurt to move on – in order to move forward you must make peace with your hurt and find closure in your suffering. The more you can confront something that scares you, the less scary and painful it becomes. 

•    Rhythm – helps to regulate your automatic nervous system which has a calming effect on your mind and body (ex. rocking back and forth or tapping your hands or feet).

•    Bilateral stimulation – choose to confront hurtful events for the purpose of emotionally digesting them, a combination of bilateral stimulation (using right and left hemispheres of the brain) and rhythm helps reduce the psychological indigestion. For example, when Dr. Tiffany is in session with a client her/she might tap their hands on their legs alternating right and left while incorporating their own rhythm.

•    Imagination and Visualization – use your mind to rescript hurtful experiences and replace past pain with hope and understanding. “If you imagine yourself successful and moving toward healing, so it will be. If you imagine yourself despairing and spiraling toward destruction, so that will be,” shares Dr. Tiffany.

“RR is about disconnecting from our thoughts and perceptions so we can allow the Holy Spirit to reveal what we’ve missed and restore us to who we were meant to be. It’s about receiving the wisdom and knowledge of God, and in doing so, we take back control of our thoughts,” reveals Dr. Tiffany. You shift your perspective from what was wrong or hurtful in your life to where God was, is, and will be in His promise for our future. Christ is at the center of your healing.

                                    

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