As a professional Marriage and Family counselor and military veteran, one of the most rewarding aspects of the work that I do is helping other veterans come to a point of awareness and understanding about their experiences in the military, and setting the stage for change if that’s what the veteran is willing to do. (Duane France, Head Space and Timing, 27 Oct. 2016)
8 common concerns veterans experience with therapy:
1. I’m not sure this is necessary
There’s something about sitting down and talking to a stranger that a veteran finds challenging. Whether it is the fact that the veteran is going to share their darkest, most intimate secrets with you, or the fact that they have tried to do the same with others before and have been betrayed or hurt, it’s going to be difficult for a veteran to even reach out for help. The military mindset of enduring hardship without complaint remains, even though the veteran is no longer in the service. It’s important to help you understand the necessity of processing the events they experienced.
2. I’m really, really trusting you
Trust is a huge thing for you as a veteran.
3. The only reason I’m here is because I’m tired of feeling the way I do.
The fact that the you have been able to overcome the challenges of asking for help is a huge indicator of your strength and resiliency.
4. I really want to be able to talk…
If there’s one thing a veteran like to do, it’s tell stories, and they have a whole lot of them. Stories about what happened to them, stories they tell themselves about what has happened to them, stories all over the place. Many of them are funny as hell, a large portion of them are unbelievable, and many are some of the most difficult things to listen to that you’ll ever experience. The veteran has a desire to be able to talk about their experiences and understand them.
5. …but have no intention of doing so…
Simultaneously, however, the veteran has zero intention of telling the story they so desperately want people to hear. For whatever the reason, the veteran both wants people to understand, without having to tell them about it.
6. …and will shut down if I feel like you’re judging me.
7. I don’t think that you’ll be able to understand what I experienced.
I don’t need to have experienced what you have in order to listen to your journey and help you process the experiences or find a different perspective.
8. I have no desire to be coddled, revered, or bullied.
Three things that I have seen that a veteran finds challenging: being treated like a victim, being treated like a hero, or being treated like a child. I am here to hear your story and help you identify schemas or ideas that are no longer working for your life.