A client has been with us from his transition as an active duty soldier to civilian life. While in the Army, he had experienced some depression and moral injury. After his Army contract was cut short due to a severe injury, he felt he could make a change in others’ lives by being a first responder.

One of his calls was a horrific situation and scene. Soon after, nightmares began. He began to drink more. He became irritable and dreaded certain types of calls. As he shared this with me, I said, “You understand, you’re showing classic symptoms of PTSD, right?” He responded that there was “no way” he could have PTSD because he had never been deployed. I explained that PTSD has to do with trauma, and combat is just one kind of trauma. After working with him for several months on reducing his drinking and improving his sleep, we began to utilize the Five Narrative Modality for reduction in PTSD symptoms. First, the client learns to recognize when he is becoming hyper-aroused or triggered. When he is, he assesses for a true threat. If there is no threat, he must self-regulate back to a state of calm.

Once the client is able to do this, we begin working through the trauma in a series of narratives through which he tells me the day’s events while he self-regulates. Doing so in a calm way does two things — it teaches the brain that these events are no longer a threat, and it begins to make sense of the events and put them into a linear pattern. Our brains crave lines, and when trauma happens, it isn’t recorded linearly in our brains. This therapy reduces PTSD symptoms by restoring that order. I am grateful to Quaker House donors who make it possible for me to work wit this young man and other clients who are dedicated to reducing the symptoms of traumas they have experienced so that they can have better lives.

~ Joanna, Quaker House Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Moral Injury Therapist


This post was original published in our Summer 2018 newsletter.