Counseling Theory- Army and PTSD

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A increasing number of military conflicts have occurred around the world in recent years. To try to resolve the mental problems that follow these wars, a number of literary works have been produced. There are problems that are prevalent in the military and the veterans of these wars, such as drug abuse, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This paper aims to study the use of client-centered care to help military veterans recover from PTSD and depression and the effects of this rehabilitation process. The client-centered therapy developed by Carl Rogershas been considered as one of the most effective treatments for PTSD and depression since the procedure does not involve the use of medication. The procedure involves critical stress debriefing sessions held with the military veterans whenever they present signs and symptoms of trauma reactions.This article shows that the client-centered therapy is the most effective means of treating PTSD and depression among military veterans.


McLean et al. (2015) state that, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression are serious problems experienced by the military veterans. Military workforces serving as veterans usually experience harmful personal consequences for their mental health as well as well-being. According to Sanders & Hill (2014) about 10 to 20 percent of military personnel deployed for peacekeeping, humanitarian or warfare disaster relief present depression and posttraumatic stress disorder following their line of duty. War is a fertile breeding ground for mental trauma given the potentially threatening situations and multiple stressors to which the military personnel is exposed (McLean et al., 2015). An increase in the number of military duties all over the world has directly been associated with the increased emotional problems amongst the military veterans (Wilkins, 2016). According to Institute of Medicine (2014), most military veterans experience a number of mental conditions such as traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress.

Causes of PTSD and Depression

According to Institute of Medicine (2014), active military personnel work under a traumatic environment that exposes them to a higher risk of developing these particular health concerns.Mental health experts are in a better position to address and resolve these concerns. Institute of Medicine (2014) state that trauma for the military workforces is also present in the veterans owing to military sexual harassment. Military sexual trauma can be defined as sexual harassment that occurs when the military recruits are enrolled in the military. Sexual trauma is sexual and impends the character of an individual irrespective of the relationship with the offender, geographic location, and gender of the victim. According toSanders & Hill (2014), this type of trauma is also a significant and inescapable concern in the military most especially among the veterans.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is best defined as symptoms which develop in response to an occurrence involving perceived threat to serious injury, physical integrity or threat of death. Such symptoms can also develop after witnessing an event that involves the same threats to another individual, or learn that those events happened to a family member or close associate (Sanders & Hill, 2014).McLean et al. (2015) lists insistent symptoms of numbing of general responsiveness, increased arousal all resulting in weakened occupational, social or other significant behavior. Victims of severe natural disasters and combat veterans have occurrence rates ranging from three to fifty-eight percent.

Posttraumatic stress is an apprehension issue that can develop after a person is exposed to a devastating or traumatic experience in life. Whereas the human body inclines to return to normal levels after undergoing a traumatic experience, persons experiencing PTSD continue to release chemicals and hormones that are stress-related. Though traumatic incidents like participating in combat, having a car accident or experiencing sexual abuse must ensue for a person to develop PTSD, not all these traumatic life experiences can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress. Just a small proportion of people who undergo distress experience PTSD. Lifetime occurrence of PTSD amongst American women is 10%, but only a mere 4% of American men experience PTSD at some point in their life. Military workforces are however at a higher risk of developing posttraumatic stress since they are closely involved in wartime occasions that may be horrifying, frightening and at sometimes, life-threatening. A single emotionally crushing incident is enough for one to develop PTSD nonetheless combat often ensures repeated and prolonged exposure of militants to traumatic events. This eventually increases their risk of developing PTSD.

Depression and Anxiety in Veterans

Conditions of the mental health that harmfully affect moods like anxiety and depression are also common amongst the military veterans (Beck & Alford, 2010). They experience such issues for various reasons like poor physical health and mental health, financial hitches, can greatly contribute to destructive moods and thoughts. On returning home, most veterans have reported to feeling disconnected from their friends and families.The certainty that no one can relate to their life or rather what they go through during warfare or offer some them significant emotional support can be apt the militants to their seek social isolation or cover up their feelings. However, these activities tend to worsen the situation. The military personnel may experience the pain of losing their friends during combat in addition to the guilt of surviving combats. Through these feeling, they develop depression and anxiety if they do not get treatment in time.

Treatment of PTSD and Depression

Treatment of depression and PTSD can be carried out through mood stabilizing drugs, antianxiety, and antidepressant that are prescribed by a psychiatrist or a doctor to patients experiencing these disorders. According to Corsini & Wedding (2010), these medications are important for the treatment of the disorders as they address anxiety and depression issues. Medications can ease nightmares, improve the sleeping patterns of patients, and reduce irritability. In addition to these medications, therapies are also a common practice in treating depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Talk therapies such as the client centered therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are important to help veterans who are affected by this disorder to help reduce emotional pain that they are undergoing. Furthermore, these therapies help in re-establishing positive social relationships, promote positive behavior and patterns of thought among veterans that are affected by the mental health conditions.

Carl Rogers provided a therapy theory, the client-centered theory, a significant approach in the treatment of PTSD and depression among the affected veterans of war. According to Wilkins (2016), this approach can capture the core of a true individual encounter with the client through an interpersonal relationship and therefore has an effective approach for the treatment of combat veterans. The client centered therapy is best in assisting the veterans re-establish their old characters as it contains a description of threat-related psychological procedures. Corsini & Wedding (2010) states that the client centered therapy offers an experimental approach to work with traumatized individuals by providing an understanding of post-traumatic growth processes. Through the therapy approach, a therapist can adopt a positive psychological perspective in gaining more knowledge of how an individual can be able to adjust to traumatic conditions.

The therapy approach may be considered as a starting point to help recover the affected veterans and reintegrate their broken self-structure. According to Wilkins(2016), therapists create a therapeutic environment that is empathetic, non-judgemental, and comfortable for their clients.Wilkins(2016) writes that the client-centered therapy is non-directive since the mental health professional allows the patient to be at the front line in leading their discussion sessions. The therapist in this approach does not control the patient to move in a particular direction.Corsini & Wedding (2010) add that therapist using client-centred approach show a complete support and acceptance for the patients, and they do not cast any judgment.

Rogers suggested that a therapist needs the qualities of empathetic understanding, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard. Through genuineness, the therapist can share their feelings honestly, and this helps the client to learn how to develop this important life skill.In the unconditional positive regard, the therapist accepts the patient and displays care and support to the client. By creating an environment of unconditional positive regard, the patient can express his or her emotions without having any fears of being rejected by the professional. Finally, the therapist through an empathetic understanding can act as the mirror to the patient’s thoughts and feelings. The veteran military personnel can gain a clearer understanding of their own inner emotions, perceptions, and thoughts.

According to Institute of Medicine (2014), through an exhibition of the three characteristics by the therapist, the client can grow psychologically. Corsini & Wedding (2010) state that the client becomes more self-aware and they can change their behavior into better characters through the self-direction approach used in the client-centered therapy. The client feels free from any judgment, and they are saferto develop a healthier view of their surrounding and a less distorted view of themselves. In Roger’s theory, there is the maximization of ideas and beliefs about one’s self. The idea of self-concept is important in helping the veterans. Through self-concept, the therapist can determine how the veteran views themselves and their surroundings. According to Rogers, the client can learn how to adjust their self-concept and be able to achieve congruence and a more realistic view of the surrounding and themselves. Institute of Medicine (2014) state that the client centered therapy focuses more on providing genuine support, empathy, and unconditional positive regard to help an affected veteran military client to reach a more congruent view of themselves.

In conclusion, the three qualities of the Rogers’s theory unconditional positive regard, genuineness, and empathetic understanding are important in helping a client recovery from both depression and PTSD. This approach is effective for veterans experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The client-centered therapy focuses on a strong relationship between the therapist and their client. The approach involves the reflexive awareness of one’s self concerning another being.


Corsini, R. J., & Wedding, D. (2010). Current psychotherapies. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Wilkins, P. (2016). Person-centred and experiential therapies: Contemporary approaches and issues in practice. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Sanders, P., & Hill, A. F. (2014). Counseling for depression: A person-centred & experiential approach to practice. Los Angeles: SAGE.

McLean, CP, R Yeh, D Rosenfield, and EB Foa. “Changes in Negative Cognitions Mediate Ptsd Symptom Reductions During Client-Centered Therapy and Prolonged Exposure for Adolescents.” Behaviour Research and Therapy. 68 (2015): 64-9. Print.

Beck, A. T., & Alford, B. A. (2014). Depression: Causes and Treatment. Philadelphia, Penn: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (2014). Treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder in military and veteran populations: A Final assessment. Washington, District of Columbia: The National Academies Press.

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