This week I attended the LPCANC 2016 Annual Conference held in Concord. It was a great opportunity to connect with professionals from around the state and to explore Charlotte, NC, nearby.
Although, my main objective was to take part in the Certified Clinical Military credential training in order to further serve a population very near and dear to me.
More than 2 million American troops have deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and the Global War on Terror. North Carolina alone has deployed 50,886 of them. In addition, military members account for 36% of North Carolina’s population, which demonstrates the high need for competent services.
If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that providing clinical mental health services to active duty service personnel, veterans, and military family members requires a clear understanding of military culture. Prior to becoming personally connected with military life and culture, I did not fully grasp this importance and how vital this is to treatment and client outcomes. Developing a therapeutic relationship with a counselor that understands this is essential.
There are notable differences between military and civilian clients in:
· Culture and Mindset
· Mental Health Resources and Stigma
· Medical, Psychosocial, and Family Aspects
· Vocational Rehabilitation, Assessment, and Career Transition
· The Grieving Process and Cultivation of Resiliency
There are also distinct norms, values, and stressors faced by military families and children during deployment phases (pre-deployment, deployment, post-deployment, and community reintegration). Rarely are these understood fully by civilians with no military background or involvement.
Common Barriers to Military Members Seeking Services
· Fear of how seeking help may affect their career, for example, their ability to obtain a top-secret security clearance.
· Fear of being labeled as crazy or weak.
· Lack of trust in a therapist.
· Having been taught through established social norms to avoid discussions of emotions related to traumatic events.
· “I’m relocating again soon so there’s no point in starting if I can’t finish.”
· The idea/adoption of selfless service and consequently, lack of self-care.
If one of these barriers is stopping you, or a military member you know, I would be happy to address any concerns related to confidentiality, and to encourage seeking treatment regardless of time limitations.
“If you commit suicide, you’re weak. If you get help, you’re weak.”
If you seek help, you are brave and responsible.
As a certified clinical military counselor, it is my duty to put best practices into play with my clients.
· I am committed to staying current on aspects of military life that contribute to client issues and stressors.
· I am experienced in the treatment of trauma, combat stress, PTSD, and family stressors.
· I am able to assess, diagnose, and treat social, psychological, and behavioral issues impacting mental health and wellbeing.
· I can provide therapy both in-person and virtually, for those located further away at Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, etc.