Mar 21, 2011 7:23 PM by Matt Stafford

Trauma expert says common PTSD treatments may not be the best

Local experts say that 10 to 30 percent of military coming home from war could be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

"We are a hotbed for trauma just because of our military instillations and what's going on," says Brian Duncan, C.E.O. of the Haven Warrior Support Center in Colorado Springs. Duncan and Haven Behavioral brought in Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk to push the conversation on treatment forward.

Dr. Van der Kolk helped create the diagnosis for PTSD while working with U.S. troops in Vietnam. He says today's injuries are different.

"I'm very concerned that the treatments that are being taught may not be the best treatment for the soldiers that are being seen," says Dr. Van der Kolk. "I think there is too much emphasis on talking in treatment often times, and not enough emphasis on making people feel safe."

Dr. Van der Kolk says people dealing with traumatic stress need to work on relaxing.

Around 300 people showed up to hear what Van der Kolk had to say. They're all looking for the same thing, answers. The packed room showed the need in the community is high. At LifeQuest Transitions in Colorado Springs they worked with more than 550 soldiers with injuries last year.

"That's growing by leaps and bounds every week," explains Grove Higgins, president of LifeQuest.

The Soldier Life Center is busy too.

"95% of our clientele is with soldiers from Fort Carson," says Scott Sutherland, C.E.O. of Soldier Life Center.

Sutherland says with a broad list of symptoms coming home, there's a growing list of ideas on how to help.

"There's a lot of theories floating around out there." Sutherland explains. He came to hear what others are thinking.

They heard a lot, and maybe not every thing discussed works for them, but at this point they're very willing to listen.

Dr. Van der Kolk thinks learning to relax is very important; and for trauma with soldiers, he says it needs to be addressed as soon as they get back.

"What we need to develop is basic training to help people to be capable of living a civilian life," says Van der Kolk.

Dr. Van der Kolk says yoga and martial arts are great ways for people dealing with traumatic stress to relax.



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