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  • Steven Berry

Sport Psychology, Trauma Psychology, and FREEDOM!

Today is an interesting day. It is one where we thank the people who put their lives on the line for freedom. Ultimately, today is a day that we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. RIP to those brave souls! May we never forget them.

As my biography on my home page states, I am a veteran. However, I was never by chance or timing placed in the position to make that ultimate sacrifice. My family members have died in service while defending this country, which is likewise to numerous families who have lost loved ones. My condolences to those who suffer this loss.

I am stoked that there are Applied Sport Psychology professionals serving the U.S. Military. Here, these performance psychology professionals are training military personnel (especially special forces units) so that they have the mental toughness and the mental skills to succeed in their mission. Furthermore, it seems reasonable to me that mental skills can help prevent and buffer against mental illness due to trauma accumulated during service.

I am happy to see services available in this country that help veterans who returned home with mental health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There are too many veterans returning home and taking their own life. I believe the statistic is that 20 veterans kill themselves every day. Sadly, for every U.S. veteran that died in the Vietnam war, 3 Vietnam veterans have killed themselves at home since that war. I.e. Approx. 59,000 U.S. soldiers died in the Vietnam war and Approx. 174,000 Vietnam veterans have killed themselves at home since then.

One of the big factors to suicide among veterans is social acceptance. The Vietnam veterans were some of the most poorly treated veterans who returned home.

With all this said, it is important to note that Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) is real. Please research PTG yourself as it is the personal growth that can be resultant from trauma when we have a chance to heal and the right factors are at play.

Thanks for reading! Please do not hesitate to help a veteran or reach out for help yourself. We owe it to our veterans and we owe it to ourselves.

I would like to share a few important links with you in regards to military service, sport psychology, and mental health.

American Psychological Association---Suicide Prevention:

The Association for Applied Sport Psychology---Tactical Performance:

References to my knowledge on this subject along with a good read if your looking for one:

Byran, C., Cukrowicz, K., West, C. & Morrow, C. (2010). Combat Experience and the Acquired Capability for Suicide. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Vol 66(10), pp. 1044-1056.

Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2013). Washington, D.C.: American

Psychiatric Publishing.

Herman, Judith (1992). Trauma & Recovery. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Hall, Lynn (2008). Counseling Military Families: What Mental Health Professionals Need to

Know. New York, NY: Routledge.

Finkel, David (2013). Thank You for Your Service. New York, NY: Sarah Criton Books

Van Der Kolk, B.; McFarlane, A. & Weisaeth, L. (1997). Traumatic Stress: The Effects of

Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Tsai, J., El-Gabalawy, R., Sledge, W H., Southwick, S M., Pietrzak, R H (2015). Post-traumatic growth among veterans in the USA: results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. Psychological Medicine. Vol. 45, Iss. 1 : 165-179


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