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Home > Research Articles > British work on new approach to treating war trauma among soldiers

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Monday, May 5, 2003

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) - May 04, 2003

London (dpa) - Teams of psychologists and counsellors "wading in" to try to help troops suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could easily make things worse, experts warn. The Royal Marines and the Royal Navy are developing an internal system to encourage soldiers to talk to each other so as not to involve strangers, mental health experts and outside psychiatrists. Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Neil Greenberg said new methods of internal counselling, called Traumatic Risk Management, were based on people trained in the armed forces and talking to and assessing their colleagues, rather than "psychiatrists with goatee beards and inflatable couches" coming in to detect how much risk someone is at from suffering from PTSD. He said: "If you look at the evidence, you see that if you wade in and try and make things better you can make things much worse and that seems pretty clear." Royal Marines returning from combat will be encouraged to talk to their fellow soldiers about their experiences, he told a briefing in London. "We're trying to get people returning from operations to talk to their buddies and talk to their friends," he said. "We are doing our best to get the ones who are a little bit wobbly, rather than going in and trying to make everyone better and ending up with hundreds of psychologists and counsellors with soldiers spending lots of time in therapy with no positive output," said Greenberg. Chris Brewin, Professor of Clinical Psychology at University College London, said military training was fundamental in combating potential PTSD. "People are fighting for their mates, and this is the whole basis of military training," said Professor Brewin. "Such training is much better than any counselling or any overt psychological preparation." The military are less likely than previously to suffer any form of PTSD after a war, the experts claimed. Factors surrounding modern war, including better training and awareness, as well as shorter and less intense periods of fighting, will ensure soldiers are far less likely to suffer long-term mental health problems.

Copyright 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH