Social Question

socialmedia26's avatar

Would you talk to me if you knew?

Asked by socialmedia26 (62points) January 16th, 2021

Hi everyone. So I’m currently studying to become a therapist for war veteran’s. It was brought to my attention last night that I might have a hard time achieving that because I have never served. I do however, suffer from PTSD so I feel that I could use my experience dealing with it to help veterans. My question is if you served would you feel comfortable enough opening up to someone you know has never served in the military?

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26 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

Probably not.

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Mimishu1995's avatar

The author of The Body Keeps the Score which I’m currently reading isn’t a vet, and doesn’t have any history of mental illness, and he treated vets quite successfully.

I’m more worried about your temperament though, which seems to show in your last answer.

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Darth_Algar's avatar

Running a car dealership and a therapist’s practice? You’re certainly going to have your hands full.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’ve suffered from depression,but that does’t mean that I have the same insight into the depression that you’ve had to endure!!! i would think it would be similar with PTSD. My Mother took me to a male physician from the day that I was born until I moved away from home. My first doctor after leaving home was a male simply because I thought that was the way it was supposed to be.Then a good friend convinced me to go to her doctor & her doctor was a female. It was like a whole new world lit up before me. Instead of dismissing my complaints as not making sense, she LISTENED & UNDERSTOOD. That gave me soo much comfort!!!

Now, I don’t know IF you had been in he military & ended up having PTSD that you would understand any other person’s PTSD any better. I’m not sure that you have to experience something in order to understand it or treat it. I think that as long as you study hard & learn your craft that you can be just as effective in your chosen field!!! The vets that I’ve known with PTSD didn’t think anyone could help them, so I don’t think your military experience will make a helluva lot of difference. Study hard & learn well & I think that you will be OK!!!

JLoon's avatar

Every year doctors heal patients with illnesses and injuries they’ve never had themselves.

What matters is what you learn from those who come to you for help, and what you do to really ease their pain.

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Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLoon….you really can’t compare physical injuries with mental injuries. In one you just need a schematic and some tools.
In the other having personal experience similar to the experiences your patients have had is really important.

JLoon's avatar

@Dutchess_III – Not arguing. I think experience matters in everything. But no matter what you’ve been through training counts too.

Vets need and deserve all the support we can give, but there aren’t enough qualified professionals in the system anywhere. I just don’t want to discourage anyone who’s learned the skills, and is really motivated to help.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Dutchess you are giving a similar criticism to one reviewer of The Body Keeps the Score. They basically said that the author isn’t qualified to write the book because he has no experience with being abused.

The author successfully treated two patients who were involved in the worst Canadian road accident ever. So if only people with personal experience similar to the patient’s experience is qualified for treatment, then does this author have to be in a car crash like that to be able to write his book? Not to mention he also treated people with childhood abuse, which he also wrote in the book. So now does he have to be abused and neglected as a child, severely traumatised in the Vietnam war, and stuck in a car crash that involved almost 100 cars to be able to treat all the patients that appear in the book?

Like @JLoon said, the idea that only those with experience are qualified can be a potential dream killer for people with a desire to help. Besides, mental illness is experienced differently by different people, so there will always be someone out there who will criticize you for not understanding them because you don’t have the same experience as them. It’s up to the patient to just go around and find a therapist that suits them the most, regardless of the therapist’s experience.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Mimishu1995….again you’re comparing a physical wreck that can be physically examined and sorted through to mental processes.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Dutchess I don’t understand what you’re saying. I’m talking about trauma and mental illness. I don’t talk about any physical injury.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You brought up The Worst Canadian Road Accident Ever.
That’s physical injury.

Darth_Algar's avatar


You do realize that physical and mental trauma can arise from the same event, right?

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Dutchess oh my :D I was talking about people who were traumatized by the accident, not injured.

Have you looked that book up?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course I recognize that @Darth. I was responding to @JLoon who compared a doctor who has never had a broken bone, setting a patient’s broken bone, with treating someone who has seen horrifying atrocities commited in a war when the person treating them has no clue what it’s really like.
To set a bone you need to read that chapter in the book.
Treating someone with mental trauma is not that simple.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Revisit Legends of the Fall.

Darth_Algar's avatar

“Treating someone with mental trauma is not that simple.”

Oh believe me, I know a thing or two about it. One does not need to have experienced mental trauma in order to treat someone with mental trauma.

longgone's avatar

Interesting question. I do think that therapists should have access to a depth of emotions. A thoroughly sheltered person who’s never experienced loss or hardship would likely have trouble connecting. But it doesn’t need to be the exact same experiences that your patients have gone through. If you’ve been traumatized, you know what fear feels like. If you’ve been depressed, you remember the debilitating fog.

As humans, we tend to value personal experience very highly. I’m not sure that’s always such a great idea. For all I know, my war veteran therapist might be drawing from a completely different experience. Maybe he struggled with loud noises and anxiety, while I’m dealing with injuries and an inability to open up to my family. We went through a similar experience, but maybe I need someone who gets me, as a person, not just my trauma. Maybe I would like to be accepted with all my insecurities, and would actually benefit from somebody who is horrified at my experiences precisely because they didn’t go through it.

Sometimes, it can be unhelpful to be told that the other person knows exactly how you feel. Because maybe they don’t, or maybe you need the space to get there yourself. So in general, therapists need to practise being very sensitive to their patients’ needs, without letting their own experiences overpower the patient’s perspective. And when you’re good at that, shared experience matters less.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@longgone A thoroughly sheltered person who’s never experienced loss or hardship would likely have trouble connecting.

Some people go through hardship and don’t learn a single thing from it. They are stuck in self-pity or become cynical or evil. Meanwhile, some people don’t experience any particular hardship in life but just have this incredible power to empathize with other people.

It seems to me that what really matters isn’t just life experience, but emotional intelligence and the ability to self-reflect. I’m thinking about something like EQ. Some people just naturally have more emotional intelligence than others. But emotional intelligence can be learned through self-reflection. And sometimes people just don’t want to go through the process of self-reflection.

I agree with everything else though.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I would argue that it might not be the best idea for a person with PTSD to be treated by another person who has PTSD, as the two could trigger each other.

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