Life After War | Why Traditional Therapy Alone Doesn’t Cut It

Posted: June 15, 2013 in Coming Home, Healing from War, Post War Life, PTSD, Spirit Wounds

“No one understands.” “No one ‘gets it’.” “No one cares.”

If you feel like this you’re not alone.

There are numerous resources out there for dealing with PTSD, TBI, trauma and reintegration.
And yet, so often veterans still feel isolated, misunderstood… alone in the world.
What those resources often fail to do is connect to you as a human being. Not a patient. Not a case. Not a diagnosis.

A person.

A heart and soul and body that needs to be heard and understood.
A heart and soul and body that needs to be loved and accepted.
(And you do deserve to be loved and accepted, no matter what you’ve experienced, you know that, right?)

PTSD, TBI, other wounds are complicated. There are no easy answers. Getting diagnosed is important. But sometimes in all our “therapy” and “prescriptions,” we fail to remember the deep power of human connection. Feeling understood, being heard, knowing that someone really cares can be instrumental in finding your path. When it fails to happen or you don’t have that support in your life, it only makes things that much harder.

(It’s important to note, too, that you don’t have to have PTSD to be affected by war. We’ve used “PTSD” in our culture to capture and contain the impact of war on warriors, to the extent that we’ve excluded the majority of veterans who come back physically whole and without PTSD symptoms. It sends the message that if you don’t have PTSD, you must be fine; the war didn’t affect you; get on with life. It fails to honor the change that occurs in you and leaves you wondering why it isn’t easier to “get back to normal.”)

Wounds of the spirit get delegated to “mental health.” We’ve tried to put the pain of the soul into a set of symptoms that can be diagnosed and treated. (I’m not discounting the value of a wise therapist or physician who sees beneath your surface – but they’re rare.) We treat the symptoms and fail to address the real issue.

And the real issue is what’s going on in your soul.

I’m not talking about religion or your relationship with a higher power. I’m talking about the part of you that gets haunted by trauma, grief, killing, loss. The part of you that is also infinite, powerful, resilient, beautiful.

Your soul is where the pain is.

It’s where the toxic effects of war take their toll. The mind suffers because the soul suffers. The body acts out because of the damage the soul’s sustained. Yes, physical injury and trauma do cause biological changes; but these changes in body and mind overlay wounds of the soul. This is why traditional therapy doesn’t cut it – they don’t address your soul. Let’s say, for example, you suffer from insomnia (as many combat veterans do) but the insomnia pills don’t work because you don’t actually have “insomnia” – you have a soul that can’t let its guard down, a body that can’t let go, a heart that desperately needs to grieve but can’t bring itself to allow it. So the pills don’t work. They switch meds; you still can’t sleep.

What’s going on in your soul is messy, it’s dark, it’s tormented, it’s unsettling and very few people want to address it. It’s not a place you can prescribe treatment. Very few people will go there because it’s not an easy place to be.

It’s a process, it takes time, it takes continual presence from someone who will stand with you and believe for you when you can’t believe. Someone who doesn’t see you as needing to be fixed, but as someone on a journey. Someone who can see you at your worst and still hold you in light of the whole person you can become.

Your soul needs to be heard. It needs relief. You don’t have to carry this alone.

If this resonates with you, reach out to me.
I’ll walk with you.


  1. DRL says:

    WOW, you have captured the true essence of what they are feeling and expressed it with total eloquence and dignity. If they haven’t been able to admit it thus far on their own, I am sure your post will make them want to embrace it now and seek the help they need.

  2. Reader Ro says:

    I wish all “treatment providers” could & would read this, hear this, feel this, “get” this. I will make a conscious effort to place your book, Close to Home in as many hands of “clinicians'”/and other would be, can be, are helpers for us, as I can. Heartfelt Thank you! As Always, whether stated or not…

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