Saturday, 17 October 2009

PTSD What a Nightmare

This is a short biography of a PTSD sufferer from the UK and an overview of the charity he went on to establish, talking2minds.

My journey through PTSD began some years ago and with hindsight first became noticeable whilst I was serving in the military. I joined the army in my late twenties and rapidly became bored with the whole setup and decided to go for SAS selection. I managed to pass first time and spent several years working in high pressure hostile environments in 9 Troop B Squadron 22 SAS.
After a period of time and several injuries later I finally decided to move on and do something where I had more choice and freedom. Within several months I had left the military and was working as a Non Governmental Military Advisor in Africa. This is where my PTSD started to evolve into an uncontrollable beast.

My first marriage fell apart; I walked out of the relationship and disappeared into the African Bush for several years leaving loved ones thinking that I had been killed or worse.
Although my behaviour and mental state was deteriorating I found a partner who could see that there was a reason for my aggressive exterior and that there was a gentler human being underneath struggling to get out. After several years of managing my state my new partner managed to get me to realise that there was something quite wrong with my behaviours and that there may well be an underlying problem. By this time I was working in Iraq as a Security Adviser in a senior management role. In around 2004 I approached the NHS for help and was passed from pillar to post as there was little knowledge of existing treatments or providers. I met many likeminded sufferers along the way and eventually was taken into a well known UK charity that provides respite for former military sufferers of stress related disorders.
It quickly became apparent that there is little or no treatment that is designed for PTSD or severe stress related disorders. There are lots of very caring people and organisations offering help with the highest of intentions as well as the sharks who want to prey on the weak for their own personal gain.

I completely lost the proverbial ‘plot’ after spending 2 weeks in the care of a specialist stress charity in UK. When they told me I would have to ‘face up to facts and take the drugs’ I decided to change tack and carry out my own research to save my mind.
Along my journey I looked into many kinds of therapy and suggestions of how to manage my state. All well and good for someone to tell you what to do when they haven’t experienced the living hell and the pits of madness themselves.
After several months of research and admitting to friends that I wasn’t well I came across a friend of a friend who was a life coach and was also helping people with PTSD and stress related disorders. During all of this time I continued to work in Iraq where I was a Senior Security Adviser in the red zone.

The friend of a friend, Mick Stott, was also ex military. The release to be counselled by someone who spoke the same language was unimaginable! Regardless of the curative effect of his treatment I felt so much better for just being amongst ‘my own’. Desperate, and slightly doubting, I met with Mick. After the first session I lost my nightmares and flashbacks in one day. Two more sessions were enough to see me waving goodbye to my PTSD demons. Like George Foreman, I was so impressed by the results that I got trained up and together Mick and I now run Talking2Minds a charity with the sole aim of treating people with PTSD.

Mick had been a Senior Physical Training Instructor in the British Military Academy at Sandhurst. He had come up through the ranks to become a Captain in the PT Corps and had been tasked by the MOD to investigate civilian performance enhancing courses in order to increase pass rates within the military for various courses. During Mick’s years in the military he had studied many disciplines and philosophies and has picked the bones out of those that work and added them to some of the more modern approaches. Mick has his own school of personal development and therapy ( that is linked very closely with talking2minds ( which conducts the training and validation of all those that work with talking2minds to ensure efficacy. Mick has been recognised in UK as being the leader in the field of therapeutic intervention.

The talking2minds Synergy programme uses a combination of 4 main disciplines NLP, Rakei, Hypnosis and Time Line Therapy that are cemented together with performance related coaching norms. Having looked at NLP and the way that it has been bastardised over the years to fit financial and marketing models we have taken it back to its therapeutic beginnings and started again; together with the coaching norms and our own R&D interventions this has produced the mother of systems.

We have many clients that have had been through the complete range of treatments that are available in our health service which include some badly delivered NLP and Hypno from people that have had the highest of intentions but woefully miss the point with what they do.
The following is a very brief explanation of the discoveries that we have made when we compared and contrast our Synergy programme with the other systems available:
CBT CBT was designed for anxiety and depression not severe stress related disorders. Change the way you do things and you change the way that you think about that thing, it can take years to desensitise a traumatic memory. CBT is based on Pavlov’s dog 1960’s stimulus response system.
EMDR Designed by an NLP Practitioner and initially only taught to medical Doctors. Not designed for PTSD. It utilises a gentle exposure to a trauma. Similar to CBT and can re traumatise the client as they connect with their memories. Not for those that are AD. It can work with very visual people over time.
EFT / TFT Uses acupressure on certain areas allowing certain energy movement around the chakras.
The key to this discipline is Meta Modelling and identifying the correct Gestalt /what memories.

Counselling Non directive i.e. no interventions

Psychotherapy Non Directive i.e. no interventions

With these therapies and others they use an extrosepective approach that encourages the change to happen on the outside. Our Synergy programme uses an introspective approach that has the client search for the changes to be made on the inside and this is achieved by connecting with the client’s model of the world. Many existing systems are deployed over long periods of time and may even form dependencies as they don’t completely remove or reframe the trauma. This in a financial context leaves the client suffering for years or for life which equates to vast sums of money and ties up therapeutic resources. In UK the NHS is struggling to cope, as time goes on the problem will worsen to astronomical proportions unless it is checked. Since the Falklands conflict we now have in the region of 100,000 former military that are suffering from severe stress related disorders. This only takes into account those who have been identified and diagnosed. There are thousands that suffer in silence until things go terribly wrong for them. The civilian population suffering from severe stress related disorders is in the 100’s of thousands. The problem in the United States is reported to be even bigger.

We know from experience that the root cause of a trauma is not the memory of the trauma itself, instead it is the emotions that are connected to that trauma that makes it disturbing. Unhook the emotions and all that is left is a memory. We go back to root cause with the client, identify the first time that they experienced an emotion and assist them quickly to understand and neutralise that emotion. The key to this phase is identifying the correct Gestalt with Mata Modelling and using the correct intervention to facilitate change.

Talking2minds also has an internet based product that assists us to lead those into therapy that have severe aversion problems and oppressively low esteem that can be deployed by telephone, email, skype and face to face. Our 3 and 5 day courses not only reframe the client’s model of the world, it allows the client’s self esteem to be re-built and it allows for goal setting which installs direction and purpose which has invariably been lost due to the illness.

Post course the palliative care aspect for the client incorporates the new networks that have been established with other clients as well as the Practitioners. A high proportion of the clients come back to train in our system or go on to achieve fantastic results in their own lives.
We have been asked if the changes are permanent. Our answer is yes, with the following caveat. From based on our research, it is quite possible for a client to be re traumatised should they re immerse themselves in a hostile environment or endure a further traumatic event although to date this has not been the case. We have clients that are still serving in the military and still work in hostile environments. Not one has come back to us re traumatised. Once the client has been through the course they are able to make sense of what situations they become involved with. As for my journey through this process I have managed to work for several years in African War Zones and Iraq for over 5 years whilst still suffering from PTSD. During the latter stages of my employment in Iraq and after having treatment some 3 years ago I have found it easy to fully comprehend the hostilities in which I have subsequently experienced without further negative reaction. Looking at the numbers that are coming to talking2minds that have been through the myriad of therapies available without any degree of long term success, the talking2minds Synergy system speaks for itself. The clients leave us having rewired themselves and become active and productive members of the community.

We now statistically analyse all our client outcomes which are externally validated to ensure the efficacy of our programme by using recognised instruments and recognised scientific methods that tell us that the client is getting well along with the clients feedback telling us that they are getting well.

Talking2minds has its own governing body that has teeth and we have strict rules and regulations to ensure that the brand is not watered down or taken advantage of at the detriment of the client.
By running a ‘Veterans helping Veterans’ or ‘like helping like’ approach it assists us to build that extra little bit of rapport with the client or the clients family member that may be suffering by proxy. By allowing veterans, and others that have suffered, either directly with a severe stress related disorder or by proxy, to train in our system and operate under our umbrella, we are expanding exponentially each time a course is run. We regulate the quality of Practitioner as all therapeutic programmes are run by a validated trainer who overseas Master Practitioners and Practitioners alike.

Talking2minds is on the verge of great things, we now have over 600 clients and now we hope to secure funding to take this to the next level. The Americans have taken the issue very seriously with some 15 Billion Dollars being dedicated to the problem. In the UK I am afraid that things are not quite as rosy. The problem is being left to a small number of charities and a struggling NHS system all of which offer the classic therapeutic treatments.
We are now fundraising to open our HQ centre in Lydney UK and develop funding streams that will allow us to treat thousands of clients per year in a cost effective manner. If you want to support us please visit for more information about how to donate. If you want to find out more about the treatment or have a question to ask for yourself or for a loved one then please contact us via the site.
Talking 2 minds

Watching Men Burn: The Falklands War, and What Came Next a Soldier's Story

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