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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Strengthening Mind-Body-Spirit: Novel PTSD Treatment Method Study Seeks OEF/OIF Veterans

Recently, I received this request in my email box:

The Inner Resources Center of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology is conducting a study about the effects of military participation in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the light of the current dialogue concerning the difficulties that veterans have in finding effective mental health treatment, this study is an opportunity for veterans to experience and evaluate novel treatment methods for coping with the difficulties of serving in the military and coming back home. Meditation or Education Participants will be compensated for their time. Is it possible to post the information about our study on your website?

Find all the information on the study below the fold.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

First, I'd like to share a few words on the blossoming awakening that's clearly been taking place in the area of combat PTSD health care. First, a personal story:

This past summer, I've been blessed by taking a breather. I've been doing a lot of reading and some writing in the background on holistic forms of therapy for PTSD, depression and general stress.

After three years of juggling things here at PTSD Combat, researching and writing a slim offering on combat PTSD, and attending NIU as an Honors student (and being closer than I might have liked -- yet certainly not as close as those who lost their lives or were inside that very room -- to February's fatal school shooting), by May I was feeling spent and in need of a break to recharge my batteries and refocus my energies.

It's amazing what an investment in mind, body, and spirit renewal can do for someone simply a bit worn out.

I can't help but wonder what it could do for someone coping with more serious issues like PTSD. In light of the fact that so few of our traditional treatment therapies seem to be working, it's nice to see that the Army is now firmly on the cutting edge (it's about time...) -- and what they're finding is that these therapies do have a role to play in warrior well being.

Hopefully, we'll continue to see a more popular embrace of holistic therapies such as mindfulness mediation, yoga or other forms of exercise, bioenergy, etc. because these mind-body-spirit tools can serve a serious function in helping us all achieve overall strength and wellness. I know they've certainly helped me clear the cobwebs away and get back to business.

An example of this new enlightened approach in action is found in the Virginia Tech strength and conditioning program (VT, as you might recall, is also the site of previous school shooting; their comfort and support meant a lot to us in the days after ours).

From Hokie Sports:

Dr. Mike Gentry wouldn't have it any other way.

Gentry, in his 22nd season at Virginia Tech, serves as the Hokies' assistant AD for athletic performance. His duties include overseeing the strength and conditioning coaches who are responsible for the training of athletes in all 21 varsity sports at Virginia Tech, while also continuing to personally lead the training of the football team. After more than two decades, Gentry has built one of the nation's top programs, and one that clearly has evolved over the years.

"In the last five years, we've been allowed to put in place and move forward with a structure that was started in the late 90's," Gentry said. "We've moved beyond being just strength and conditioning into a more holistic approach that involves sports nutrition with Amy Freel, who is a full time athletics employee and registered dietician, and sports psychology with Dr. (Gary) Bennett, formerly of the Virginia Tech Cook Counseling Center and now full-time in our department. We're able to offer our athletes a lot of things that other schools don't have in place."

It's that combination of building both the mind and body that has made a huge impact on Virginia Tech athletes in recent years.

"It's important because we are not programming machines here; these are people," Gentry said. "People need help in different areas. If an athlete is having a problem off the field and it's causing some anxiety or depression, it's going to spill into their training and their performance. If they're not eating right or don't understand what their body composition is, they can be spinning their wheels in their training. We're trying to look at the entire athlete and see what we can do to assist in the development of the whole person."

That means Tech students have a full-time psychologist and a full-time dietician within 10 yards of their weight rooms. "Our particular configuration may be a bit unique," Gentry suggested. ...

"The administration at Virginia Tech deserves the credit for letting Mike [Gentry] put those things in place," legendary strength coach Boyd Eppley said. Eppley, the former coach at Nebraska, is considered to be the 'Godfather' of strength and conditioning.

"It doesn't happen without the support of the athletic director and staff. Schools like Virginia Tech and Texas, they 'get it.' They understand it's more than just strength and conditioning. It's the psychological approach to motivation and developing a complete profile of an athlete."

Hey, if this is good enough -- both physically and mentally -- for VT's rough-and-tumble athletes, it should be good enough for our nation's other high-powered and accomplished individuals: troops serving in or veterans of our Armed Forces.

Not surprisingly (to me at least) my fellow partner-in-crime, PTSD blogger Lily Casura over at the very fine Healing Combat Trauma, has immersed herself in the very same topic of late and has been writing some really exquisite stuff on the issue. I would heartily, heartily recommend taking a look at her Mind Body Medicine tag to catch a glimpse of what I mean. You won't regret it.

In future posts, I'll continue to share some of what I've personally unearthed and learned during my forays into the topic. I think we are going to continue to see an up tick in energy and attention to these all-encompassing approaches to easing the pain and suffering that so many with PTSD and depression -- or merely acute stress or exhaustion -- endure.

There's no reason why anyone should be a prisoner to their past, held hostage by their thoughts ruminating over and over on events that have long since transpired. And there's certainly no reason anyone should have to deal with combat trauma alone -- they are not the only ones at war. Our entire nation is at war and it's our duty to carry our own share of the load.

In the final analysis, we are one. No matter how alone we feel at times -- or even how much we'd just like to be left alone -- one person's angst is everyone's angst. There's just no way around it.

Details from Free Press Release:

Elena Arney
Public Relations, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology
530-386-5932 direct

Redwood City, Calif. (February 25, 2008) – The Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP), a private, independent professional school educating undergraduate and graduate students in the greater Bay Area, announced today that faculty member Lynn C. Waelde, Ph.D. is launching a two part study of military veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Waelde and her team of nine PGSP doctoral students will study the experiences and responses of military personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Waelde began inviting individuals for participation this week.

“The war in Iraq has been going on for six years, and yet little research has been done about how to provide treatment to these veterans from a psychological standpoint,” says Dr. Waelde. “We know more about the Vietnam generation than we do this group.”

The first part of Dr. Waelde’s investigation will interview veterans and active duty military personnel about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. The survey pool will not be limited to combat troops. Dr. Waelde and her team are soliciting all members of the military, from doctors and engineers to those on the front lines, from any branch of the armed forces who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

After this initial round of research is complete, Dr. Waelde will invite those who qualify to participate in an eight week program. Sessions will be conducted at the school’s not-for-profit clinic, the Kurt and Barbara Gronowski Clinic in Los Altos, Calif. as well as at several convenient locations through the Bay Area. This group will include at least 60 veterans.

A major focus of Dr. Waelde’s current research is the empirical validation of Inner Resources TM, a psychotherapeutic meditation intervention that she developed. Dr. Waelde will test her meditation techniques and a telehealth intervention for their ability to provide relief for symptoms experienced as a result of military service.

Dr. Waelde currently runs the Inner Resources program at the Gronowski Clinic where patients are offered relaxation, breathing, and meditation techniques to enhance their abilities to cope with stress.

Veterans interested in participating in the study may contact Dr. Waelde’s team at 650-421-4874. For more information on the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, or call 800-818-6136. For more information about the Kurt and Barbara Gronowski Clinic, please call 650-961-9300.

About the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology
The Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, a private, independent professional school in the San Francisco Bay area, has educated doctoral students since 1975. In 2006, it added an undergraduate program and currently offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology through a partnership with De Anza College. Established to serve society, PGSP is a diverse learning community dedicated to the search for knowledge and its dissemination. PGSP brings together a community of highly talented faculty and graduate students working side-by-side to bring scientific rigor and theoretical knowledge to the analysis and practice of clinical psychology.

About the Kurt and Barbara Psychology Clinic
The Kurt and Barbara Gronowski Psychology Clinic at PGSP is a community-based psychology training clinic and treatment center dedicated to providing high quality, evidence-based, clinical services to adults, children, and families in our community. Our clinic uses several evidence based psychological treatments including cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, illness management, and family psychoeducation and family management.

Program details:

Inner Resources™ for Stress:

* An educational program using relaxation, breathing, and meditation to enhance your ability to cope with stress
* Learn to deal with stress as it is happening
* Participants benefit from a small group setting and individualized attention
* Participants receive a week-by-week manual and audio recordings of guided practice sessions for home use

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