Trauma is a psychological reaction to a single or sequence of traumatic events that overwhelms a person’s capacity for coping. Various situations, such as physical and sexual abuse, exposure to danger during battle, natural catastrophes, mishaps, and the death of loved ones, may bring on trauma. Anxiety, sadness, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and drug misuse are just a few of the symptoms trauma may cause in a person’s mental health. The term “survivors of trauma” refers to people who have gone through a traumatic event or series of events. Examples of such people include combat veterans, first responders who have witnessed or experienced traumatic events, and victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or other types of violence.
Many symptoms, such as hypervigilance, avoidance, intrusive thoughts, and emotional numbness, may be experienced by trauma survivors. These symptoms may be crippling and impair a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks, including caring for oneself, maintaining relationships, and working. Project Odyssey aims to support veterans in coping with and overcoming invisible wounds, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Those who have experienced trauma may find it difficult to control their symptoms, feel alone, and be cut off from society. With this program, veterans may connect with a supportive group of people who can empathize with their challenges and share similar experiences.
In addition, Project Odyssey offers adventure-based education, a novel kind of mental health care. The program pushes veterans to participate in sports like hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing outside their comfort zones. These exercises aim to foster personal development and resilience-building abilities. Trauma may significantly affect a person who has experienced it and their family and social network. The symptoms and experiences of the person are linked to their connections and environment, according to a systemic approach to healing trauma.
A systemic approach to treating trauma acknowledges that trauma is a societal and relational problem that affects the individual. An individual’s connections with family, friends, and colleagues may be impacted by trauma, which may cause social isolation and alienation. The program may aid in developing better connections and support networks, which can be crucial to the patient’s rehabilitation by incorporating family members and close friends in the therapy process. Also, family members and close friends may develop coping mechanisms to help the trauma victim heal while simultaneously managing their stress and emotions. Project Odyssey provides programs for couples, families, and mixed genders to address trauma’s effects on social support networks and family connections. By including family members and other close friends, the program helps foster stronger bonds and support systems, which can be essential to the recovering person.
Project Odyssey is a 12-week mental health program for veterans that employs adventure-based learning to help combatants manage and get over their invisible wounds, including PTSD, anxiety, and despair. The program provides veterans with a five-day mental health retreat where they are pushed to leave their comfort zones and participate in activities that foster resilience skills and personal development. After the retreat, participants continue to practice the skills they have gained and work with WWP to accomplish their objectives.
Theoretical or Model-Based Approaches
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and adventure-based psychotherapy are just a few of the evidence-based techniques that Project Odyssey utilizes. The main goal of CBT, a popular psychotherapy, is to recognize and alter unfavourable thinking patterns and behaviours. In exposure treatment, a cognitive behavioural therapy, the patient is progressively exposed to circumstances or stimuli that cause trauma-related symptoms. Adventure-based therapy is a therapeutic strategy that encourages personal growth and development via adventure sports, including hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking.
Gender and Cultural Relevance
Project Odyssey understands the value of gender and cultural appropriateness in mental health care. For the benefit of veterans from various backgrounds, the program provides coed, family, couple’s, and all-male, all-female, and coed programs. To ensure that all participants can fully participate in the program, it also integrates culturally sensitive methods and offers interpreters as needed.
Involvement in Family or Social Networks
To address the effects of trauma on relationships and social support networks, Project Odyssey includes family members and close loved ones in the therapeutic process. Family members and close friends may participate in family, couple, or mixed-gender programs to aid in the patient’s rehabilitation and learn coping mechanisms to deal with their stress and trauma-related feelings.
Project Odyssey employs various measures, such as pre-and post-program questionnaires, clinical evaluations, and tailored treatment plans, to gather participant data. The participant’s symptoms and experiences are evaluated during the pre-program survey, and their progress toward attaining their objectives and enhancing their mental health is evaluated during the post-program survey. To measure the participant’s symptoms and monitor their development over time, clinical evaluations like the PTSD Checklist (PCL-5) are also employed.
Goals and Metrics
Project Odyssey’s main objective is to support veterans with PTSD, anxiety, and depression in managing and overcoming invisible wounds, improving their resilience, and enabling them to lead useful and satisfying lives. The program tracks its success in achieving these objectives via surveys administered before and after the program, clinical evaluations, and tailored treatment plans. Participants create individualized treatment plans using WWP that include clear objectives and methods for achieving them. The program also offers continuous assistance and monitoring to make sure that participants are making strides toward recovery.
Project Odyssey is a 12-week, staged mental health treatment program for veterans. Each step strives to improve resilience skills, enable soldiers with PTSD, anxiety, and depression to lead productive lives, and manage and overcome their unseen wounds. Every participant has different requirements and experiences; thus, the program is made to be adaptable and tailored.
Stage One: Preparing for the Program
Project Odyssey’s initial phase entails getting the participant ready for the program. This entails determining if the program is a suitable match via a screening procedure and determining the person’s requirements and objectives. A medical history review, an interview, and an evaluation of mental health symptoms are all part of the screening procedure. This phase’s objective is to ensure that the participant is prepared and motivated to participate entirely in the program.
Second stage: a retreat for mental health
The five-day mental wellness retreat serves as the program’s centrepiece. Warriors struggling with PTSD and other unseen wounds are pushed to leave the familiarity of their daily routines at this point. Adventure-based activities, including hiking, canoeing, and rock climbing, are part of the retreat’s outdoor environment. These exercises aid in developing participants’ coping and communication abilities, peer relationships, and feelings of success. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and solution-focused brief therapy are among the evidence-based therapeutic approaches employed by the program (SFBT). These methods aid participants in recognizing harmful thinking patterns and challenging them, creating healthy coping mechanisms, and enhancing communication abilities.
Stage 3: Continuous Monitoring and Care
After the mental health retreat, participants collaborate with WWP to keep honing their new abilities, accomplishing their objectives, and implementing lifetime constructive changes. This stage needs continual assistance and follow-up to ensure that the participant is keeping on track and moving toward their objectives. The program provides various post-program services, such as peer support groups, group therapy, and individual counselling. Various tools and resources are also available to participants to support their development. The program is designed to be personalized since it understands that each participant has different requirements and life experiences. The program’s methodology is based on the idea that participants are the experts in their own lives and can create their path to recovery. Participants are encouraged to participate in their care activities and create their objectives and action plans. The program offers a variety of tools and resources to aid participants in identifying their strengths and areas for improvement and creating individualized plans for overcoming barriers and reaching their objectives.
The approach also acknowledges the value of social networks and family in healing. The program encourages participants to identify and incorporate additional members of their social network, such as friends, extended family, or peers, as direct family members may not always be accessible or able to participate. These people may provide assistance and inspiration, keep the person engaged, and instil a feeling of responsibility.
To sum up, Project Odyssey is an integrated, personalized program that considers each participant’s particular requirements and life experiences. The program’s three phases are designed to aid participants in developing coping and communication skills, building resilience, achieving their objectives, and making good life changes. The program employs therapeutic methods that have been proven effective, and it encourages participants to take an active position in their care and include their social networks in the healing process. The program aims to enable soldiers with PTSD and other invisible wounds to go beyond their comfort zones and find their true selves.
Training in deep empathy should be provided to professionals who offer crisis or trauma intervention. A non-judgmental attitude, respect, acceptance, inventiveness, adaptability, a good mental attitude, rewarding minor victories, and resilience are among the attitudes required to develop biopsychosocial empathy. Abilities like paraphrasing, reflecting emotions, and questioning are examples of active listening techniques necessary for developing biopsychosocial empathy. The client’s contextual supports and stressors, medical requirements and prescriptions, current drug and alcohol use, and internal and external coping mechanisms and resources should all be covered in a quick but complete biopsychosocial examination by practitioners. Also, clients may be assisted in navigating the seven-stage crisis intervention paradigm as they travel toward crisis stabilization, resolution, and mastery. The seven steps are as follows: evaluation of psychosocial and lethality, fast rapport-building, recognition of significant issues or crisis triggers, handling of feelings and emotions, generation and exploration of alternatives, implementation of an action plan, and follow-up.
The trauma I selected for this article was the loss of a family member. Losing a loved one may be sad and traumatizing for people and families. Grief and loss may be physically and emotionally taxing, and people may need time to comprehend and accept the loss. A compassionate and empathic approach that acknowledges each person’s particular needs is necessary for the evaluation and treatment of people and families who have suffered the loss of a family member (Edwards et al., 2017). The emotional effect of sorrow and loss on people and families is one of the critical challenges in evaluating and treating these conditions. Sadness, rage, remorse, and terror may all arise with the loss of a family member. To process their feelings, children, in particular, may find it challenging to communicate their sentiments and may need specific care. The conversational approach, which strongly emphasises the value of establishing a secure and encouraging therapeutic environment, may be beneficial for treating persistent complicated trauma within a systemic framework (Skinner & McLean, 2017).
The physical effects that sorrow and loss may have on people are crucial considerations in evaluating and treating these conditions. In treating children and families, somatic tools, such as those offered by sensorimotor psychotherapy, might assist in maintaining arousal (Lohrasbe & Ogden, 2017). This method strongly emphasises the value of treating the physical effects of trauma, such as muscular tension, headaches, and digestive problems, to assist people in managing their emotions and lessen pain. Significant changes in family relations may also occur when a family member has passed away. For instance, the death of a parent may result in changes to roles, financial strain, and family rituals. Family ties may be severely strained due to these changes, and further assistance may be needed to help families cope with the new situation. Family counselling may be beneficial in assisting families in navigating these transitions and preserving a wholesome and encouraging family atmosphere.
The assets and strengths of people and families are significantly shaped by culture. Their culture is a specific group of people’s standard views, values, traditions, and behaviours. Understanding cultural concerns is crucial for determining the assets and capabilities of people and families and creating successful solutions.
According to Roberts and Yeager (2009), culture affects a person’s capacity to handle trauma and crises. People from various cultural origins could have various coping strategies, attitudes, and beliefs towards mental health, which might impact their desire to seek treatment. For instance, certain cultures may stigmatize those seeking mental illness care or perceive it as a sign of weakness. Mental health providers must understand and respect their patients’ cultural traditions and beliefs. Moreover, cultural considerations are crucial in determining the assets and strengths of people and families. A feeling of pride, resilience, and belonging are provided by cultural identity. Those with strong ties to their culture and society may have more social support, an essential resource under challenging circumstances. Moreover, cultural practices and beliefs may provide people with meaning and significance, fostering resilience and ease of coping.
Mental health providers should be mindful of the effects of trauma, dissociation, persistent shame on people and families, and cultural difficulties. The capacity to build healthy relationships and deal with stress may be impacted by the long-term impacts of trauma on a person’s mental health, according to Codrington (2017). Dissociation, a coping strategy that entails cutting off from one’s thoughts and emotions, may also be a deterrent to getting treatment. Mental health providers should use trauma-informed and culturally sensitive strategies to treat these problems. This can include adopting treatments that respect the person’s cultural beliefs and traditions while being culturally acceptable. Moreover, training in trauma-informed treatment, which stresses safety, trustworthiness, choice, cooperation, and empowerment, should be provided to mental health providers.
Community-based coping mechanisms may assist people and families in adjusting to the death of a family member, which can have a substantial effect on both. Providing social support, fostering relationships, and granting access to resources are examples of community-based solutions. Moreover, family-based techniques emphasize intergenerational support, communication, and bonding. Making relationships among people who have suffered comparable losses is one method of using community-based techniques. This method may make people feel less alone and more understood in their suffering. According to Davis (2019), creating relationships may aid people in overcoming addiction, and a lack of ties can fuel addiction. This similar concept may be used in the context of loss. Creating relationships among those who have suffered losses may aid in their coping and support system development.
Those struggling to deal with the death of a family member may find success using family-based coping mechanisms. Family-based methods must include mutual support and communication as vital elements. Family members may process their sorrow and come to a common understanding of what has occurred by talking frankly and honestly about the loss. Supporting one another emotionally, assisting with daily work, and participating in activities that foster closeness and good feelings are all examples of mutual support.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that may affect anybody after experiencing a terrible event (Sexual trauma, 2016). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be diagnosed if one has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event involving death, serious injury, or sexual violence and then displays at least one of the following symptoms: memory flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the trauma, and negative self-talk are all symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many ethnic groups may exhibit PTSD symptoms differently and have different perspectives on mental health and illness; therefore, it is essential to include cultural aspects while evaluating and treating PTSD patients. Certain cultures, for instance, may not feel comfortable talking about mental health, which might lead people to delay treatment until their condition has worsened significantly. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment may be facilitated by using evaluation techniques that are culturally aware and accommodating to the patient.
Impairments in sympathetic and parasympathetic modulation of autonomic functions characterize nervous system dysregulation disorders. These diseases may cause many symptoms, including worry, depression, discomfort, and trouble sleeping. Disorders of nervous system dysregulation include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and numerous chemical sensitivities. Assessing nervous system dysregulation often involves a comprehensive medical history and physical examination to identify any underlying medical disorders causing the symptoms. There are various additional ways to evaluate a patient, such as doing a comprehensive study of their symptoms (including psychological ones) and reviewing any medications, supplements, or alternative treatments they may be using.
Disorders of the neurological system are notoriously difficult to diagnose and much more so to treat, making cultural considerations crucial. Cultural beliefs about illness and treatment might impact an individual’s motivation to seek help and adhere to recommended therapies. It is essential to consider the patient’s cultural background and beliefs while developing an individualized treatment plan that is culturally acceptable and compassionate.
Sexual trauma: Rape in the gray zone. (2016, May 09). University Wire. Retrieved from ProQuest Central database.
Lohrasbe, R. S. and P. Ogden (2017). Somatic resources: Sensorimotor psychotherapy approach to stabilising arousal in child and family treatment. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 38(4): 573-581. Retrieved from Ebscohost multisearch.
Skinner, L., & McLean, L. (2017). The conversational model and child and family counselling: Treating chronic complex trauma in a systemic framework. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 38(2), 211-220. doi:10.1002/anzf.1214 Retrieved from Ebscohost multisearch.
Roberts, A.R., & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket Guide to Crisis Intervention. USA: Oxford Press
Codrington, R. (2017). Trauma, dissociation, and chronic shame – reflections for couple and family practice: An interview with Kathy Steele. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 38(4): 669-679. Retrieved from EbscoHost multisearch.
Davis, J. (2019). Using connection to transform addiction. Retrieved on June 2, 2019 from https://upliftconnect.com/opposite-addiction-connection/
Edwards, K. M., Murphy, S., Palmer, K. M., Haynes, E. E., Chapo, S.,Ekdahl, B. A., Buel, S. (2017 Co-Occurrence of and recovery from substance abuse and lifespan victimization: A qualitative study of female residents in trauma-informed sober living homes. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1-9. Retrieved from EbscoHost multisearch.
WWP. (2023). Project Odyssey – Veteran Mental Health Program – PTSD retreat: WWP. Wounded Warrior Project. Retrieved February 24, 2023, from https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs/project-odyssey