Journaling as a Tool to Treat PTSD

By Tania Meireles, WTC Stratcom

Michael Cain volunteers his time at Fort Bragg teaching Soldiers and Veterans how to write journals to work through feelings, especially those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

When Michael Cain’s son separated from the Army, he re-located to Fayetteville, NC, to help his son sell his house. He felt a need to stay there and support servicemembers in healing after war. Cain saw his friends come home from Vietnam as changed people and wanted to help those coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with writing about their feelings—as a way to heal.

“With the large number of military personnel being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment options are as important as they’ve ever been,” Cain said. “Many have difficulty communicating effectively with behavioral health professionals, which complicates the healing process. Journaling provides a vehicle which allows servicemembers and Veterans to begin to draw out their feelings and memories without the perceived risk of speaking about them.”

For two years, Cain has volunteered at the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) and has worked with Soldiers who are struggling with PTSD. Even though the Army and Department of Defense are working to eliminate the stigma of seeking help for behavioral health issues, Soldiers may still feel reluctant to seek help. Cain believes journaling allows Soldiers, Veterans, and Families a way to address their thoughts. He meets with them one-on-one to help them get started.

“The basis of my work is to present journaling as a tool in the treatment of PTSD,” he said. “The workbook I’ve written to supplement this course includes definitions of PTSD and its symptoms, and a detailed discussion of how journaling can help to manage those symptoms. Throughout the workbook I’ve included writing assignments to help ease the Soldier into the writing process and to help them explore the causes of their pain. I know that some of the Soldiers I’ve worked with have experienced profound improvements in their well-being.”

For Fort Bragg Soldiers and Veterans interested in journaling, ask your squad leader or behavioral health provider about Cain’s course.

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