Tools to Use When Counseling Service Members
As civilian providers are called upon to counsel returning service members with psychological health (PH) concerns and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), these providers may wish to find new ways to become familiar with military culture and stay current on new military initiatives to decrease stigma across the armed forces.
Health professionals can use tools, training and other resources to develop skills in creating and maintaining open lines of communication with service members. As many health care professionals know, establishing a relationship based on trust and respect is a key step in counseling service members. Such a relationship includes:
- Actively listening
- Encouraging questions and concerns
- Speaking clearly and deliberately
- Being honest and truthful
Staying up-to-date on the latest health information important to military service members is one way to show you care about them on an individual level. If you or someone you know is a health care provider interested in learning more about caring for service members and families after deployment, check out the following list of resources.
The mission of the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) is to train civilian and military behavioral health professionals in the provision of high-quality mental health services to service members and their families. CDP offers a recurring two-week “Topics in Deployment Psychology” course in Bethesda, Md., and a one-week “Addressing the Psychological Health Needs of Service Members and Their Families” course at various locations across the United States. The one-week course is particularly geared toward training civilian providers and includes modules on military culture, the deployment cycle, treating depression and suicide and workshops on empirically supported treatments for PTSD.
Information about these courses and upcoming trainings is available on CDP’s website. You will also find several educational training modules available as web-based trainings, including the “Military Cultural Competence” course. The goal of these courses is to empower PH professionals with knowledge of military culture in order to improve communication, understanding and overall interaction with warriors and their families.
afterdeployment.org was created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology to focus on post-deployment readjustment problems and solutions for service members. Afterdeployment.org provides interactive web-based behavioral health and self-care tools that can be used anonymously or in tandem with an in-person consultation, 24/7. Military leadership and health care providers can use the website's materials to learn about common problems and effective change strategies, and to obtain useful contact information concerning local resources.
RESPECT-Mil stands for Re-Engineering Systems of Primary Care Treatment in the Military, a system of primary care designed to enhance the recognition and high-quality management of depression and PTSD. Designed by the Deployment Health Clinical Center, the treatment model aims to screen, assess and treat service members with depression and/or PTSD in the non-stigmatizing setting of a primary care clinic.
RESPECT-Mil provides online training modules for the coordination of primary care providers, care facilitators and behavioral health specialists in the unique service of soldiers with behavioral health needs.
In addition to online trainings, RESPECT-Mil offers primary care professionals free training manuals designed to educate them on caring for their military service member patients and their families:
- Primary Care Management of Depression and PTSD (Military Version) for Primary Care Professionals [PDF 3 MB]
- Care Facilitators [PDF 2 MB]
- Behavioral Health Professionals [PDF 3 MB]
Army Resilience Training is an educational initiative intended to reduce post-combat psychological distress. The Resilience Training material was developed after years of gathering data about deployments and reintegration. Based on the psychological theory of expectation, the tools and training are focused on easing soldiers’ adjustment to their families and communities. This training is available to active duty soldiers and their families, as well as reservists and their families.
The mission of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is to develop and institute a holistic fitness program for soldiers, families and Army civilians in order to enhance performance and build resilience. The program focuses on optimizing five dimensions of strength: Physical, Emotional, Social, Spiritual and Family. This holistic approach to fitness is designed to enhance the performance and build resilience of the force in this era of persistent conflict and high operational tempo. Resilienceis the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges and bounce back from adversity.
Combat Operational Stress Control (COSC) in the Marine Corps encompasses all policies and programs to prevent, identify and holistically treat mental injuries caused by combat or other operations. COSC uses a combat operational stress continuum ranging from green (ready) to yellow (reacting) to orange (injured) and red (ill) to determine how a service member is coping with deployment-related stress. COSC also has a Decision Matrix, which is a tool for both leaders and marines to use in assessing where any marine is at any given time on the stress continuum for psychological health and readiness.
The Deployment Health Clinical Center’s (DHCC) mission is to improve deployment-related health by providing assistance and medical advocacy for military personnel and families with deployment-related health concerns. DHCC serves as a catalyst and resource center for the continuous improvement of deployment-related healthcare across the military healthcare system. DHCC, a component center of DCoE, offers clinicians and providers assessment tools and practice guidelines designed to assist with their day to day practice.