"When we think of it [PTSD] as a medical or psychological condition needing expert repair or control, we do things and give things for PTSD. When we think of it as a communal and spiritual wound that we all share and for which we are all responsible, we love and support, listen to, engage and guide survivors, and take a moral journey with them."
(Ed Tick: The Sacred Wound, p. 20. Health Progress, May-June, 2013, 14-22).
The descent to Hell is easy;
Death's gate stands open night and day;
But to retrace our steps, to climb to the air above,
This is our life-work, this our labor.
We provide free counseling and support to military service members who have served or who expect to serve in the Iraq and/or Afghanistan conflicts (OIF/OEF), to the veterans of those conflicts, and to the families and loved ones of the those involved.
We see the members and families and other loved ones of those who are active duty as well in Reserve or Guard units.
We provide help to any of those who might be struggling with issues related to the psychological trauma of war, as well as separations and the cycles of deployment, homecoming, and reentry to civilian life.
We sometimes see people individually but we also work with families. Family sessions that include an extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts, boy/girlfriends, and even other close friends are especially valued.
- Dr. Roger Brooke, Director of the Military Services
Why come to the Duquesne University Psychology Clinic?
We do not see ourselves as competing with other resources, such as the Veteran's Administration. However, we think that some people might like to contact us because:
- The counseling services are free.
- The services are completely confidential within the standard limits of the law (safety).
- There are no diagnostic codes required, and we do not report to insurance companies.
- We are independent of other institutions, but can work in conjunction with other institutions at the client's request.
- We welcome loved ones who are not married - boyfriends and girlfriends, for instance.
We at the Duquesne Clinic have an approach and philosophy to psychological care and recovery for our service members, veterans, and loved ones that is consistent and recognizable. Supervisors and doctoral students seeing people through the Clinic's Military Services are familiar with the following principles:
- We serve those who are suffering the psychological wounds of war, but we include a wider perspective that hopes to promote a greater sense of inner well being, personal agency, and resilience for the future, more enjoyable personal relationships, and optimal family functioning. We can also address children's separation anxieties and behavioral signs of distress.
- We know that deployment to a war zone, especially combat experience, changes one, and that the journey back to feeling home again is a task that can be just as challenging as deployment. It requires the support of a genuinely concerned community of veterans and civilians, and sometimes the help of educated and trained people who understand this process
- We know that the psychological wounds of war are a universal human experience, known in all cultures. These wounds were described in our own culture by Homer over two and a half thousand years ago. What people now call post-traumatic stress injury (or PTSI) is traditionally a burden that was carried by the community and not the individual warrior, and the community had rituals to bring their warriors home. Storytelling, sharing the thoughts and feelings about what happened, and making peace with the dead, are some of the healing practices that warrior traditions offer us.
- It is also important for the suffering warrior and the community (or therapist) to help evaluate what happened in realistic and life-affirming ways. There are lessons learned while in service, and our therapists can help the veteran discover what these lessons are and to take them forward into their lives.
- Most of us at the Clinic are civilians, but we are deeply appreciative of the service that military personnel have given us. Our work is our attempt to be of service in return. While it is true that we cannot know veterans' experience in the way they do, we are committed to learning and trying to understand, and using that understanding to help in return. On the other hand, many veterans prefer civilian therapists. Being understood by civilian therapists helps bridge them back into the civilian world, it can be easier to talk in private outside of military structure, and differing ranks is also not an issue.
- We are good listeners. We meet our clients on their own terms, and we avoidoffering simplistic solutions to complex personal questions. We know that personality and personal history make for important individual differences to what are otherwise shared military experiences. We also have specific skills that can help the processes of homecoming, family integration, and stress reduction. We understand the ripple effects of service and deployment on the individual and family system, and we do not limit our focus to PTSI or depression.
- We understand that many women veterans have unique wounds and challenges. These include dealing with long separations from children and the challenges of renegotiating motherhood upon return, relationship stressors with partners related to deployment, gender discrimination in military culture, and sexual assault. Both male and female therapists trained to help with these issues are available upon request
We hold Humanistic values without an agenda:
- We understand and respect military culture, and have no political or religious agenda other than to be of service to those who consult us. We are not aligned with groups that are for or against the current or recent wars. You are welcome here whatever your views.
- For some people, it is helpful that Duquesne University is a Catholic institution. This does not mean we preach or have a religious agenda. It means we try to approach people in a way that is consistent with the best of Catholic values. For us, these include respect for the individual worth and humanity of those who consult us, humility in the face of the veteran's experience, and an openness to the deeply personal and spiritual questions that are often raised in times of war.
Roger Brooke, Ph.D., ABPP