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Ideas for Recovery, Re-Balancing, and Self-Care

If helplessness is the hallmark of trauma, and empowerment is the antidote to helplessness, then the fact that so many sources offer suggestions for self-care and ongoing recovery is certainly a neon sign of hope.  This section focuses on things that veterans can do to re-balance their stress systems.  These suggestions reflect the helping professions’ growing awareness of:

  • The unbreakable connection between body, mind, spirit, and relationships
  • The role that all of these play in trauma and recovery from trauma

A good clinician can enhance motivation, but the primary motivation for wellness and self-care will come from the veteran’s own decision to take responsibility for putting his or her stress systems back in balance.

In the words of Jonathan Shay, “The essential first step that a veteran needs to take, which is a precondition of healing, is to establish his own safety, sobriety, and self-care.  This is often a protracted struggle, and various means of assistance are available to support the veteran in accomplishing these things for himself” (Shay, 1994, p. 187).

The ideas presented on the following pages represent just a sample of ideas from a few of the many people who are addressing issues of trauma, trauma recovery, and self-care.  Many of these ideas—breathing deeply, movement, relaxation, spiritual practices, and keeping in contact with other veterans, to name a few—seem to make each expert’s short list.

These suggestions are organized according to their sources, to allow credit where credit is due—though these sources would undoubtedly pass the credit on to others, and particularly to those who have worked so hard to bring their lives back in balance.


Next: Suggestions From Three Presentations on
Post-Deployemnt Stress Effects

Also in this section:


Please Note: Some of the considerations in these pages are taken from written works, but more are based on conversations with or presentations by veterans or therapists who work with trauma survivors.  The reader is encouraged, not to take these ideas as absolute or as the only important considerations, but to respond to them with curiosity and a desire to listen, read, and learn much more.


The material on all of the Clinical Pages is taken directly from the draft version of Finding Balance After the War Zone:  Considerations in the Treatment of Post-Deployment Stress Effects, a manual under development for the Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center and Human Priorities.  This draft is copyright © 2008, Pamela Woll.  Reprint permission is universally granted, but attribution is requested.
Click here for References and Other Resources.
Click here to link to a PDF file of the current version of the clinician’s manual draft.
Click here to link to a PDF file of the accompanying booklet for veterans.

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