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Coping Strategies for Clients Suffering from a Traumatic Experience


Guest Contributor

Michael D. Gatson, Ph.D.



As a clinical provider and a veteran, I understand the effects of deployment and their symptoms from a different perspective. Combat deployment exposes U.S. military personnel to life-threatening combat, hazardous duty, and dangerous environmental conditions. When working with military service members, veterans, and their families, it is essential to be open to interacting with a full range of client backgrounds and circumstances. Through my clinical work, I often encounter veterans who return from deployment with severe physical injuries and psychological health problems. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the signature injuries and most prevalent among returning service members and veterans.


Reserve, National Guard, and Active Duty service members and veterans who have separated from the military are increasingly facing joblessness and homelessness. However, I have also observed positive outcomes from exposure to combat-related trauma and hardship such as the development of resilience to positive adaptation and growth. I can respond to these varied needs of service members by conducting comprehensive assessments and creating treatment plans that work. For me, no day is ever the same, but I enjoy the daily challenges and the opportunity to use my analytical skills on a consistent basis. I appreciate this profession as it allows me to reach those individuals who need guidance and encouragement in their lives.


Another common theme that has emerged in my clinical practice are clients who are seeking providers of color. In the past several years, there has been an increase in the number of ethnic minorities in the United States who are pursuing counseling services, which has led to a need for more licensed clinical providers of color. Thousands of veterans who return home from the war and other military exploitations are minorities, and they often find it more comfortable and more comforting to discuss their issues and tragedies with providers to whom they can identify with as an ethnic minority. Therefore, a racial pairing of clients and providers has become one of the primary focuses of the Veterans Administration community. With the changing face of U.S. politics, I truly believe people are even more inspired to pursue their dreams and meet every expectation and fulfill every goal they set for themselves.