Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Drive On Podcast. This is a another solo episode. With me, Scott, DeLuzio your host? This is also. Another reminder to let me know what you think about these episodes, these solo episodes. I’ve done a couple already. Including this one, I’m putting them out there for the listeners for you guys.
So I want them to be useful. Maybe even let me know if you have any questions that you’d like to have answered on a future episode. Basically just tell me the type of stuff that you’re looking for. And I want to put that stuff out there. So again, you can reach me by contacting me on the website. [00:01:00]
DriveOnPodcast.com or by messaging me on social media on that Drive On Podcast on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. So reach out to me there and let me know what you think.
So this episode, we’re going to be talking about alternative therapies for PTSD treatment. Now. I think it’s important for people to understand what PTSD is. I think most people probably have an idea. We all heard what PTSD is. So I decided to go to. Medical source. Get their definition. So we are on the same page as far as what it actually is. So according to the Mayo clinic’s website, PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. Either experiencing it or witnessing it. I’m not sure really what the difference is there. If you’re witnessing it. You’re sort of experiencing it [00:02:00] too. But maybe they mean. Uh Having that terrifying event happened to you, you’re in the car accident versus you’re on the sidewalk, watching the car accident happened, something along those lines, I guess.
Symptoms of this could include like flashbacks nightmares. Anxiety. As well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. So things. That. Just keep reoccurring over and over again. Now it’s also important. Like I mentioned, car accidents is important to. Recognize that PTSD isn’t limited to combat veterans. The most common events, according to the Mayo clinic leading to the development of PTSD include.
Like childhood physical abuse, sexual violence. Physical assaults being threatened with a weapon. Accidents car accidents, those types of things. And of course combat exposure as well. Obviously it fits into that as well. So, The traditional ways to. Treat PTSD. And again, we’re going to be talking about alternative ways, but just traditional methods of treating [00:03:00] PTSD include things like talk therapy, which can take a lot of different forms. I’ve experienced some of them, myself, some of them are literally just sitting on the couch, talking with somebody.
About what’s going on. There’s.
Groups of this talk therapy or psychotherapy. Cognitive therapy. Is one of them in that helps you recognize the things in the ways that you’re thinking. That are keeping you stuck in that pattern and not able to get past that trauma. So for example negative beliefs about yourself and.
Maybe even risks. I have. Traumatic things happening to you again in the future. So some of those things where you may not. Do certain things or go to certain places because you just associate those things with that trauma. It’s a way of kind of breaking that connection. And so that way you’re able to experience those things again.
You know, down the line. Exposure therapy is another. Form of this [00:04:00] therapy. That helps you. Face. The situations. And the memories. That you find troubling so that you can cope with them in. Ways that are more effective than maybe what you were. Doing so exposure therapy. I can be really helpful for things like flashbacks and nightmares.
And while I was researching this episode, I actually found that there’s an approach that uses virtual reality programs so that you can reenter the setting that you were. Exposed to during the trauma. So again, using the car accident example you know, if you witness a car accident, it was really dis.
Terrible gruesome thing. They can set up some sort of virtual reality program where you can actually witness this happen again. And again, and again. Over and over again. And. That might seem like it’s absolute torture and you may not be completely wrong with that. The way, I think of exposure therapy though, and I’ve gone through it. I’ve experienced it myself.
Is [00:05:00] it’s like watching a horror movie. The first time you watch it, it’s scary. But if you watch that movie over and over and over again, 20 times. By that 20th time that you watched a movie, you’re not gonna be affected by it as much. You’re not going to be jumping out of your seat when that scary thing pops around the corner or you know, the.
The bad guy jumps out of the closet or whatever it is that is scary. About the movie. It’s not gonna affect you after you’ve watched it 20, 30, some odd times. And so exposure therapy is very similar where you have this horror movie playing in your head of this. Terrible incident that took place and it.
Just makes you kind of replay those things over and over again until they just, it’s not desensitizing you totally, but it, so they don’t affect you quite as much. And then there’s
eMDR. Is another therapy uses exposure therapy. With guided eye movements that help you process traumatic memories [00:06:00] and change how you react to those memories. So, of those. Talk therapy options. I just mentioned. This is the only one that I have not yet tried. Eye movement desensitization. And reprocessing. EMDR. Other traditional things include medications like antidepressants anti-anxiety medications. Which can be prescribed, definitely talk to your doctor about these things. So, they affect your mind in ways that you may not be ready for. So approach them carefully and definitely under the direction of a doctor.
Definitely don’t go out and self-medicate just because a friend said, Hey, this is some good stuff here. Use this, don’t do that kind of stuff. Definitely talk to a doctor first. In this episode though, like I said before, I want to talk about some alternative therapies for PTSD treatment. Now keep in mind, I am not a mental health professional. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a therapist. I’m not a counselor. None of those titles applied to me at all. So take all this with a grain of salt. I’ve used some of these therapies myself.
I’ve known [00:07:00] others who have used some of these as well. Your mileage may vary with any of these treatments. The important thing though, is that you keep trying new things until you find something that works for you. So first thing I want to talk about is art therapy. We’ve talked about it.
On the podcast before, but art therapy uses a wide variety of different artwork to help treat PTSD. So drawing, painting, sculpting. Photography, music, any really, any creative way. Of expressing yourself. And it helps you to develop these like grounding. In coping skills. And can be. Even a way for you to tell your story.
The story of the trauma that you experienced without using words. I mean, that’s one of the benefits of using art therapy is you don’t need to use words. I mean, certainly you can, especially in a musical setting, singing. Certainly would use words. But you could also be playing another instrument. And so maybe.
Maybe that instrument is carrying the song for, but while the words. [00:08:00] There’s no, no words really to say. What it is that you’re feeling, but you can sometimes get an emotion from a song. So it’s one of the benefits you don’t need to use words. Sometimes it’s hard to put words. Into the feelings that you’re experiencing maybe, you know, the word so.
And maybe just don’t want to say the words. You don’t want to say them out loud to a therapist or. Maybe you just don’t want to hear yourself say them out loud at all.
And I mean, quite frankly, sometimes words just don’t do the story justice. Maybe a painting or a sculpture or something. Along those lines would do. Even better to tell your story. I know for myself, I started painting. And when I started, I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush probably since I was in elementary school.
Than to paint the walls in my house or something along those lines. Right. So I had no real high expectations for what I was able to create. But I found that I wasn’t too bad at it. When I paint though, I’d find myself. Letting go and getting consumed by the painting that I was creating. My [00:09:00] wife actually told me after.
An afternoon of painting. That I seemed happier. Afterwards. And she probably was right. I just kinda got lost in the moment in what I was painting and creating. So. I could see that working with any kind of art form, it could be photography. You can look at that. You get out in nature. Go take pictures of things that interest you, right.
Go get outside that there’s an improvement right there. Just getting outside. It is a big thing. You know, anything really that can help you. Overcome the PTSD symptoms like that I think is worth a try. Right. Another option is equine therapy horses using horses for a form of therapy. And I’ve had a few episodes on the show regarding equine therapy.
And I’ll link to those in the show notes in case anyone. Once to learn more about this type of treatment. It’s. It’s just, it’s another alternative, right? It’s not talk therapy. You’re not talking to a horse. But this is my understanding of equine therapy and why it works. So [00:10:00] horses are prey animals.
So they naturally, they’re a little skiddish around people. My family and I actually were. Visiting an area. A few months ago where there. We’re horses on a farm. And my kids got excited and they started running towards the horses to go see them. And when the horses saw them. Running towards them.
The horses just ran away. They, they were in a fenced in area. My kids couldn’t get over the fence and the horse just ran away to what they perceived as a safer place to be. Now my kids were, I think, 10 and 12, probably somewhere around there at the time. It wasn’t like they’re a big threat to this thousand pound plus pound horse that was in this field.
But the horse still ran away. So when you have someone suffering from PTSD horses, We are going to read all of the emotions, although the signals that you’re giving off. And they’re going to start to react to those. Similar to how they reacted to my kids running towards them. Maybe they’re not going to run away [00:11:00] necessarily.
But they’re not going to respond in the way that you want them to. And part of the equine therapy is you working with the horses to get them to do certain things, but they’re not going to do those things. If. You’re. Angry and stressed and mad and dealing with your PTSD and negative ways. So, this causes the veteran, or I guess in this case, the person.
Suffering from PTSD. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a veteran. To focus on their own issues to make any sort of progress with the horse. You have to get yourself right before you can work. With the horse. The horses are almost like a mirror. And you’ll start to see bits of yourself. In the horse as you’re working with them. And if you don’t like what you’re seeing.
You’re going to have to change something. And I don’t mean by getting another horse, you’re going to have to change something within yourself. So if you’re upset or angry the horse is going to be more difficult to manage. You’ve got to work on yourself. You got to get that stuff right. In order to be able to work with the horse.[00:12:00]
A couple of years after getting back from Afghanistan, I was dealing with PTSD still. I still am. But. I started noticing my son. Who’s only a few years old start mimicking me. And some of the things that I would do when I was angry or frustrated or upset. I’d see him making the same facial expressions.
I, that I bake, I. I’d see him gritting his teeth the way I would do it. And God, that was a terrible thing to see. I did not want that for him. So I realized I needed to make a change in myself. Because my son was learning from me. He was looking up to me. I’m the dad. So like that’s where kids learn from their parents. They look up to them and if the parent isn’t a good example, a good role model, then the kid’s not going to have.
The best outcome. Right. And so I knew I needed to make a change for myself. And similar with the horses. If you’re seeing something in the horses that you’re not liking, it’s making it difficult for you to work with them. You’re going to have to make a [00:13:00] change. Now. Equine therapy, some of the benefits here.
It’s found to reduce levels of anxiety and stress. Improve your mood and create a sense of peace amongst other things. There’s so many different benefits, but, you know, just being there, working with the horse, you. You develop that relationship similar to how you might develop a relationship with a pet at home, like a dog or something like that.
You develop a relationship with that horse? It’s. It’s a nice way to you know, Kind of just improve your mood. I mean, Granted equine therapy may not be for everyone, especially if the trauma that you experienced involved, a horse. Right. So, that may not be the best option for you. But it could be effective.
Or may need to work with. Other therapies in conjunction with those other therapies. You know, Th it just up to you to. Check it out and see what. Works for you. And maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but give it a try. And I mentioned I’ll put some links to other episodes in the show notes.
To some of the places that I’ve interviewed that have been on [00:14:00] the podcast before. The places I had in mind are horse sensing. And hope and healing at Hillingdon. Ranch. And those, I think if off the top of my head, I think they’re in the Tennessee and Kentucky areas of the country, but there are ranches all around the country that offer this type of therapy.
I mean, it’s really a Google search equine therapy in my area. We’ll probably give you a bunch of options. That you can take out, take a look at. And then the third option I want to talk about is kind of an interesting option. I know a lot of, that’s our kind of adrenaline junkies. They want to get out there and do things. And
Relive the glory days maybe, but adventure therapy is another. Possible option for PTSD treatment. Adventure therapy is a way to help. People struggling with PTSD by having them take part in various adventures. In a relatively safe environment. I mean, there’s risks involved in anything you do, but so it’s relatively safe. But the main element of this though is
The perceived risk. That you have there. So, you know, if you’re rock climbing, for example there’s definitely a risk there. [00:15:00] People fall when they’re rock climbing, there’s things that could happen. Right. But that risk. Causes the people who are participating in it to rely on the help of other people.
And step out of your comfort zone.
And this will stimulate your brain. Give you different activities that maybe you’re not used to doing? You know, I know for me, I’m not used to rock climbing. I’m not used to doing. A lot of adventure type sports that would definitely push me out of my comfort zone. Definitely forced me to use different parts of my brain. And some, just some examples. I’ve already mentioned rock climbing, but caving is another. Example, kayaking, whitewater rafting, paddleboarding. Canoeing rafting, swimming. Skiing snowboarding, snow, camping things along those lines are All included surfing to I think, I don’t think I mentioned that yet, but all of those are good options. So,
During these activities. The way they sort of work is You frequently need to talk to other people. In your group. Typically, this will work in a group setting. So it [00:16:00] teaches you. Positive, like social skills and communication skills. Teamwork.
Working in any sort of team there’s always conflict. So conflict resolution. It helps you work through. Some of these things. And it helps you learn how to bond and trust people again. I know trust is a hard thing, especially people who have been in tragic situations where maybe they’ve lost trust in people.
This, you’re going to have to trust people. If you’re rock climbing and you got somebody you know, hanging on to the rope and keeping you safe, like you’re going to have to trust that person.
These feelings can help people who have experienced trauma. In relationship building. You won’t be quite as closed off from other people. Y’all very often lose your ability to trust people. You close shell self off. Shut. Shut everything off. Build up those walls. But with adventure therapy, you’re placed in a situation where you absolutely have to rely on other people.
A lot of times, you’re going to have to ask for help. I mean, you’re going to get [00:17:00] vulnerable. Once you experienced this, you’re going to start to realize that you can trust people again, like boom, those people are not there. To hurt you or to damage. You in any way they want you to.
Go through this and succeed and be happy. And enjoy the experience and not drop you off a cliff. If you’re rock climbing or something, or drown you in the ocean, if you’re surfing or whatever, you know, like that’s not what they exist for. So there’s organizations out there that do. A lot of different.
Types of adventure therapies. One organization that I interviewed on the podcast before is a warrior surf foundation. Again, Have them on the podcast. Great people. I’ll include a link to that episode as well in the show notes and they use surf. As a treatment. Four. PTSD. And they get people out in the water.
And they do surfing. And they, even if you’ve never surfed before they could teach you how to surf. They can get you out there in the water. And it’s just a way to get out there and. And trust people rely on the equipment, [00:18:00] rely on the people, the instructions. Outward bound for veterans. I will be another option.
It’s a service members and. Recent. Veterans in adjusting to so civilian life through like wilderness outdoor courses. Of course, all military members and veterans. Well, I think it’s all veterans may just be disabled veterans. I’m not entirely sure on that, but we all have access to public parks and recreation areas.
There’s a program. I believe it’s called America. The beautiful. You can go and you can get a free pass to any National park or places like that. That you can go and you can go hike and. Climb. Raft. Whatever you want to do in those places and get outside. You know, that’s another option.
Sierra club outdoors provides a number of activities. For.
Service members, veterans, their families. So another organization, soldiers undertaking disabled, scuba trains, wounded warriors to scuba dive.[00:19:00] Which I think is pretty cool too. And there’s a lot of others out there. There’s so many different options. So, you know, if you’re interested in getting out there and doing something just again, a quick search.
To find places around you, if you can’t find something. Reach out to me again, go to the website, DriveOnPodcast.com. Reach out, let me know. I’ll help you try to find something.
So we talked about a few options. Again, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many different options, but we talked about art therapy, equine therapy, adventure therapy. I’m sure there’s other alternative therapy options for PTSD. Maybe there’ll be another episode, but again, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many different options.
Just a few choices that you can take a look at. The bottom line is if you tried something. And you don’t think it’s working. Try something else. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just because the traditional treatment options maybe don’t work for you doesn’t mean that nothing will work for you.
Explore alternative treatment that. We’ll work for you. Give him a try. You have nothing to lose. Go, [00:20:00] give them a try and see what happens. No matter what you do though, keep trying new options until you find something that works for you.
Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.