In this issue
Improving health and wellbeing
Catherine Jackson explores counselling’s public mental health role.
From soldier to civilian
Michael Stott explains why military veterans can find it hard to accept counselling.
Soldier, veteran, survivor
Mervyn Wynne Jones offers guidance for therapists on working with military veterans.
Nicola Banning outlines the particular demands of workplace counselling.
Meditative flow psychotherapy
Jeffrey Po introduces a psychotherapy that harnesses the power of meditation.
Growing through loss
Philippa Skinner describes how she coped when her son died from a drug overdose.
Listening to transgender voices
Jane Hunt finds out what transgender clients want from counselling.
How I became a therapist
Crime and judgment
From the chair
Readers may have seen the Panorama documentary ‘Broken by Battle’ in July, which highlighted the 50 suicides in 2012 of veterans who served in Afghanistan. The documentary suggested that the numbers of suicides and sufferers of PTSD are far greater than the Government is prepared to admit. The Ministry of Defence has been criticised for not even recording the suicide rate among ex-soldiers, as the US Government does.
However society does seem slowly to be becoming more aware of the long-lasting effects of war and possible mental health problems of soldiers who have fought on the frontline; NHS provision has developed and there is growing support from charities like Combat Stress, which has seen a large increase in the number of veterans seeking its help.
In this issue two therapists with direct experience of the military world share their thoughts about the particular difficulties ex-soldiers face in accessing psychological therapies and enrich our understanding of the experience of military service. One quote from Michael Stott’s article brings home the problems faced by some ex-soldiers adapting back to civilian life: ‘Veterans who are traumatised,’ he writes, ‘can’t work out why they find themselves looking for exit routes and intelligence gathering when they’re in the supermarket shopping with the family.’ As Stott explains, the military trains its members exceptionally well to make them fit for their role; what it needs to improve is the way in which it retrains and decommissions its personnel.
There is a debate, which Mervyn Wynne Jones outlines in his article, about whether military veterans respond better to fellow veterans in a therapeutic setting – a lack of understanding of military life is often cited as an obstacle to veterans getting effective therapeutic help. As with so many areas of life, if a good therapist makes an effort to properly understand their client’s culture, useful therapy can take place.