Receiving counselling for marriages affected by PTSD

Posted on: 21 July 2016

Many people in the community can be affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The disorder affects people who have witnessed or gone through a traumatic event, such as an assault, and commonly affects people who serve the community such as police officers and army officers who often witness violence. The impact of the PTSD can reach beyond the affected person and also affect relationships. 

Here are some ways that counselling can help. 

Individual counselling

Individual counselling can help the person suffering the PTSD work through the issues that they are experiencing and work on ways to deal with these issues. Importantly, this includes coming up with strategies to deal with triggers and stresses so that the patient can respond appropriately to normal household stress such as their partner forgetting to tell them something or arguments over household chores. Counseling can also help to identify if there is any need for medication such as sleeping pills in the short term,

Couples counselling

Where one person has PTSD that hasn't been treated, the other person often takes on a larger load within the family to prevent adding additional stress. This can lead to some resentment over time. There can also be some avoidance of topics that need to be discussed. Where there are physical issues such as ongoing depression or sleep issues, or self-medication with drugs and alcohol, this can also affect the other partner. Counselling can help to put into place structures to help deal with normal stresses and maintain strong communication during a difficult time. 

Family counselling

The repercussions of PTSD can also extend to children in the family unit. Children can become scared with bursts of anger or tearfulness, as well as find it hard to manage emotional numbness or distance from the affected parent. Counseling can help the children to deal with their emotional issues as well as help the parent and child to reconnect in a neutral environment with a third party to help them communicate issues fully. The parent and child can also make some plans on how to spend time together to strengthen their relationship, as well as help them deal with other issues as they arrive. 

PTSD can be extremely distressing for the entire family. Using formal counseling can be a great way to deal with the emotional issues that have arisen and build strategies to help you connect better going forward.