A new group-based training program from Wounded Warriors Canada is taking an innovative approach to treating trauma.
The aim of the Trauma Resiliency Program, which launched last weekend, is to treat members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans and first responders, who are often diagnosed with higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Tim Black, associate professor of counselling psychology at the University of Victoria, developed the program with clinical counsellor Alex Sterling, who has previously worked with Wounded Warriors with a focus on trauma.
The goal of the program is to chip away at the isolation that wounds like these can breed, and provide peer support for an illness steeped in stigma. Addressing the shame and the societal response head on is a new approach, Black said.
“It’s tied into almost all traumatization,” he explained, saying these issues usually aren’t at the forefront when studying or treating trauma. “Just living with trauma requires resiliency.”
Black said the program’s focus is to build on that resiliency to make survivors proud of the work they’ve done to heal. “Society itself has a responsibility. Part of what traumatizes people is the social response that people get.”
While it’s hard to track exact numbers of those suffering from PTSD, he estimates it’s three to 10 per cent of the general population. Among the military and first responders, it’s more like 10 to 20 per cent. Black and Sterling are looking at what it’s really like for people to live with symptoms of trauma, asking what they struggle with most.
“Anybody who’s been to therapy knows, being in therapy is far harder than being out of therapy,” Black said. “It’s a lot harder to do the work than it is to avoid the work.”