Mizzou study explains why veterans don't tell us everything

8 months 9 hours 37 minutes ago Friday, May 18 2018 May 18, 2018 Friday, May 18, 2018 4:17:00 PM CDT May 18, 2018 in News
By: Sarah Hempelmann, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Local veterans return home from combat having experienced things average citizens could not even imagine.

Douglas Wilbur, a University of Missouri graduate student, recently did a study about veterans who continue to abide by the "need-to-know" rule when talking about their war experiences with counselors and therapists.

Wilbur says, being a veteran himself, the veterans he spoke with felt comfortable as soon as they heard him speak in their native language.

"Because I was already a member of the group, I was able to, I already had a trust established with them," he said.

Wilbur said the biggest finding he uncovered was that veterans were more hesitant to speak with therapists because they feel they won't understand those unnatural experiences.

Grant O'Neal is a psychologist and PTSD Clinical Team Lead for the Truman VA Hospital.

He said when confronted with a veteran who puts up barriers, the VA staff has several techniques to try and break those walls down.

"The ones that we use most often, within the VA, are cognitive processing therapy and prolong exposure therapy," O'Neal said.

He said those are skills based therapies. They have practice assignments to work on throughout the week to help them develop their skills and develop recovery.

If they notice treatments are not helping the veteran improve, they will assess the treatment and modify it to that specific veteran's needs.

O'Neal said the ultimate goal is to find a treatment that fits the veterans and will give them best overall results.

Wilbur said that even though he will not pursue the study any further, his hope is for therapists and psychologists to pick up where he left off and continue his study.

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