April 24, 2009

Reflections of Self: Bridging Differences with Similarities Between Clients and Myself

In the treatment of combat related trauma, the latest research reveals that a union of therapist and client can and will eventually bring about a healing process. Whereby upon establishing trust in the clinician, the combat veteran or soldier can begin to recover compartmentalized portions of the personality and regain a sense of normalcy. Prior trauma, such as childhood neglect, abuse and sexual abuse can and will have an impact on combat trauma (Van der Hart, Nijenhuis and Steele, 2006).

Seeing as how I have connected all of the dots here before inked, I will have to take great care in safeguarding myself from becoming triggered and interacting with the client on the outside of the therapeutic window. In doing so I will need to find a mentor who I can process with and who will be able to counteract any maladjusted behavior I may exhibit. Additionally, I am in the process of receiving exposure therapy in an attempt to reintegrate my childhood memories, my combat experiences and string together a more compete autobiographical history of self.

According to Tyson (2007), working with clients who have trauma based disorders can greatly impact and “transcend the mirroring of their client’s PTSD symptoms…” thus affecting the practitioner’s expressions of self-identity and leak into every aspect of their lives. With continuing therapy, I will find myself further integrating my past trauma experiences and finding breathing room upon facing the fires of facilitation within the realm of the treatment process. Should the field of combat trauma therapy consume too much of my psych, I must endeavor to find a different avenue to help my fellow veteran.

I have such a passion to help those who I fully identify with, to help them out of the dark and into the light of recovery. The closer I attend to receive my degree, I find myself having a growing apprehension and need to “fix” myself. I do recognize the false belief here, in that I am broken, or less than. These schemas and operational tendencies I face every day and take great measures to identify them as I live them. To alleviate these fears I have decided that if the stress is too great then I will help in other areas with our veterans, such as educational benefits. I received the help of a professional social worker in gaining the benefits that I attend school with today.

With a centered focus on self, self identifying in the moment, utilizing a mentor, engaging in continued therapy and further studying of trauma therapy I will be able to safeguard the clients well being and cause no further harm to an already fragile mind. I also plan on placing objects within my office that represent my principles and values that will shape my practice and ability to reflectively engage the client rather than defensively react. I behold the gift of cynosure and have viewed the revelation of my purpose; my faith and spirituality will be the sign posts to my continued journey.


Van der Hart, O., Nijenhuis, E. R., and Steele, K. (2006). The haunted self. New York, New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Tyson, J. (2007). Compassion fatigue in the treatment of combat-related trauma during wartime. Clinical Social Work Journal, 35, 183-192.

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