December 11, 2009

The NYTimes on Military Psycho-Therapy

A recent article in the New York Times caught our attention. In it, James Dao and Dan Frosch examine doctor-patient confidentiality (or lack thereof) in the United States Military psycho-therapy services.

At the beginning of psycho-therapy sessions, soldiers are asked to sign a waiver "explaining that under certain circumstances, including if he admitted violating military laws, his conversations with his therapist might not be kept confidential."

“There really is no confidentiality,” said Kaye Baron, a psychologist in Colorado Springs who has been treating soldiers from Fort Carson and their families for eight years. “You can find an exception to confidentiality in pretty much anything one would discuss.”

It's so bad, that some Military defense lawyer's recommend their clients avoid Doctor's and instead talk to their Chaplain's, because "the privilege rules on their communications are stronger than for therapists."

This creates a lack of trust between the soldier's and the therapists, and prevents them from truly opening up about the horrors of war and how it effects them. It does not take much to draw a line between the ineffective counseling services soldiers are receiving while in the military, and the mental problems that then plague them the rest of their lives, whether they are still active duty members or discharged.

For more on the effects of PTSD on soldiers who've returned home, check out our short film series The Inner Wounds of War.

Below is a short video we created for Purpose Prize '09 Winner Dr. Judith Broder, who created and runs The Soldiers Project, an organization which provides unlimited, free, confidential therapy to combat veterans.