Tag Archives: militaryfamilies

Can Education and Coping Strategies Reduce the Effects of Childhood Maltreatment?

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Military deployment can place additional stress on a family, sometimes resulting in childhood maltreatment. Emotional, physical, and/or sexual maltreatment can have devastating effects on child development. What are some protective factors that can improve outcomes for individuals who experienced childhood maltreatment? In a 2013 article published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, researchers examined protective factors that could reduce symptoms related to childhood maltreatment, and decrease the likelihood of adult personality disorders [1].
Hanging the family tree 2

This study was conducted as part of the Zurich Programme for Sustainable Development of Mental Health Services in Zurich, Switzerland. In this portion of the study, 680 residents of the canton of Zurich, ages 20 to 41 years, were given personality disorder (PD) questionnaires, a childhood maltreatment questionnaire, and coping questionnaires. The childhood maltreatment questionnaire included questions about emotional and physical abuse, emotional and physical neglect, and sexual abuse. Coping strategies included emotion-focused coping, problem-focused coping, and dysfunctional coping.

In examining the interactions among childhood maltreatment, level of education, coping strategies, and symptoms of personality disorders, the following results were found:

  • Individuals with low levels of education levels were less likely to use problem-focused coping resources.
  • Surprisingly, in maltreated individuals, as problem-focused coping increased, dependent personality trait disorder scores increased.
  • Consistent with other research, all forms of childhood maltreatment were related to dysfunctional coping skills.

Implications for Clinicians

For adults who have experienced childhood maltreatment, increasing adaptive coping skills (such as ) and reducing dysfunctional skills (such as avoidance, denial, self-distraction or self-blame) may reduce symptoms of personality disorders. Problem-based coping skills to consider when developing a treatment plan could be planning, instrumental support, or active coping. Emotion-based coping skills might include; acceptance, emotional support, humor, or positive reframing.

For more information on childhood maltreatment and the impact on brain development, review the MFLN webinar, “Trauma in Young Children Under 4-Years of Age: Attachment, Neurobiology, and Interventions”. Blogs related to childhood maltreatment include:Child Maltreatment Prevention; “Child Brain Development & Trauma”; “Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples Affected by Trauma; Therapeutic Book for Child Trauma”.

More on protective factors: “What Leads to Better Outcomes for Children Who Witness Family Violence?”

 

Reference

[1] Hengartner, M. P., Mueller, M., Rodgers, S., Roessler, W., & Ajdacic-Gross, V. (2013). Can protective factors moderate the detrimental effects of child maltreatment on personality functioning? Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47(9), 1180-1186. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.05.005

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, You Tube, and on LinkedIn.

5 Tips for Military Caregivers during the Holidays

iStock_000017046751XSmallThe holidays can often be a time filled with many emotions for military caregivers, ranging from thankfulness and joy, to stress and frustration. Overwhelmed with daily responsibilities of providing care to our service members, the holidays, as special as they may be to us, may leave us vulnerable to stress.

The following tips for military caregivers are suggestions for this holiday season as you spend time with your wounded service member and family and friends.

1. Share your wish list of caregiving duties. The gift of asking for help can be even better than material objects. Talk to family and friends and get them involved in some of your caregiving activities. Ask if they can provide respite care for a few hours, run errands, take your service member to the doctor, or help out around the house.

2. Recognize signs and symptoms of burnout. During the holidays your caregiving duties may become more heightened than ever. Your stress level can reach an all-time high as you try to juggle caring for your wounded warrior and getting ready for the holiday festivities. Before long you become burnout and robbed of your energy and experience a full blown emotional breakdown. Recognize these emotions or signs and symptoms of burnout and identify outlets when you begin to feel stressed.

3. Anticipate holiday triggers from your service member. The holidays may trigger stress or unhappy memories for some wounded service members. Be mindful and acknowledge their emotions as well as yours. Service members may feel anxious with large holiday crowds; they may even bring on negative emotions because they are no longer able to accomplish or participate in things they once were. Stay focused on the positive, and thankful they are with you this time of year.

4. Simplify holiday activities. We all imagine the holidays full of bright lights and food and drinks of every variety, but it may be less stressful if you scaled back a bit to simplify, while still enjoying the holiday festivities. Set limits. If you are baking for a feast, chose foods that are simpler to bake; eat out or order a prepared meal.

5. Start new holiday traditions. Depending on your service member’s injury, you and your family may not be able to participate in as many holiday activities as you once were. As a caregiver, you are learning to create a ‘new normal’ and change is inevitable. If you are unable to travel to see family and friends or attend holiday parties, try using technology and setup a video visit.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on December 1, 2014.

December Caregiving Webinar: Medicaid & Military Families (Part 1)

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Join the Military Caregiving Concentration team as they host their FREE monthly professional development webinar on the topic of ‘Medicaid and Military Families: An Introduction’ – part one of a three part series.

Date: December 10, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern
Event Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1698
*No registration is required 

Christopher Plein Ph. D., an Eberly Professor of Outstanding Public Service at West Virginia University, will provide an introduction into a three-part series on the overall purposes of the Medicaid program; its relevance to military families, especially those with family members who have special needs. Medicaid is a federal-state program that often provides health care coverage for low-income families and those with disabilities. The purpose of the ‘Medicaid and Military Families’ three-part series is to assist military service providers and others with a general knowledge of Medicaid and to provide guidance on where to turn for resources and further information.

Webinar training objectives include:

  • Describe ‘What is Medicaid?’
  • Understand eligibility requirements
  • Identify medicaid essentials
  • Implement program in current work
  • Recognize the future of Medicaid
CEU Credit Available!

The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well. For more information on CEU credits go to: NASW Continuing Education Instructions.

Interested in Joining the Webinar?

*No registration is required; simply go to Part 1 Medicaid and Military Families: An Introduction the day of the event to join. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation. You can connect to the Adobe webinar using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream.


This post was written by Mikala Whitaker, MFLN- Military Caregiving Social Media assistant, and published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on November 17, 2014.

 

November Caregiving Webinar: Suicide Risk Assessment & Prevention

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Join the Military Caregiving Concentration team as they host their FREE monthly professional development webinar on the topic of ‘Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention.’

Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern
Event Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1712
*No registration is required.

Edgar Villarreal, Ph.D., a Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Clinical Psychologist from the Department of Veterans Affairs, will provide a step-by-step approach to assessing, mitigating and documenting suicide risk when working with wounded service members and their families. The 60-minute presentation will offer techniques to better prepare service providers on how to manage challenges relating to suicides in the military.

CEU Credit Available!

The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well. For more information on CEU credits go to: NASW Continuing Education Instructions.

Interested in Joining the Webinar?

*No registration is required; simply go to Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention  the day of the event to join. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation. You can connect to the Adobe webinar using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on November 6, 2014.

 

Are You a Caregiver?

The term ‘caregiver’ can be defined as an individual that provides care, whether it is paid or unpaid, to someone with an impairment. However, when we hear the term ‘caregiver’ our thoughts are immediately drawn to the idea of caring for an aging adult. The term may be hard to accept, especially if you are caring for a younger adult…say from the military perhaps.

As a military spouse or family member caring for your wounded service member, the term ‘caregiver’ may not even cross your mind. You assume as spouse or family member that it is just part of caring for the individual you love. In reality, we are all caregivers at some point in our life – caring for our children, parent, spouse or friend.

In the video below Michael Roos, Military Family Life Counselor at Joint Base Lewis McChord, explains his thoughts on the term ‘caregiver.’ Listen to the video below and how his comments may relate to your personal experience.

How do you define ‘caregiving?’ Do you consider yourself a caregiver?

For military spouses, families or friends caring for wounded, ill and injured service members, it is important to understand that you are now taking on a new role as ‘Military Caregiver.’ While you may not see yourself as a caregiver, it is important to identify yourself in this role in order to understand specific education and information related to your service member’s injury or condition and how it may affect you.

So I ask the question again – How do you define ‘caregiving?’ Do you consider yourself a caregiver?


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on October 28, 2014.

October Caregiving Webinar: Marital Conflict

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Join us this month as we host our FREE monthly caregiving professional development webinar, Handling Marital Conflict Constructively: It Starts with Me, and Begins with “I.”

Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. – Noon Eastern
Event Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1688

Michael Roos, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Anuway Counseling, LLC and a Military Family Life Counselor at Magellan Health Services at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will introduce participants to the primary origins of marital conflict within the military. Military service members and their spouses often experience unique challenges that come with military life, for instance, frequent deployments, long distance relationships, and challenges if the service member becomes wounded in combat. Roos will share with participants how conflict develops within relationships and how to confront such conflicts instead of avoid it, and to work together to bring about resolve and growth as a couple.

CEU Credit Available!

The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well. For more information on CEU credit go to: NASW Continuing Education Instructions.

Interested in Joining the Webinar?

*No registration is required; simply go to Handling Marital Conflict Constructively the day of the event to join. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream. You can connect to the Adobe webinars using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on October 13, 2014.

Caregiver Compassion Fatigue

Is your service member experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or has he/she been exposed to traumatic events while serving? Has these traumatic events indirectly affected your ability to care, causing burnout and significant distress? If so, you may be at risk for a phenomenon called compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress (STS). Compassion fatigue, if not treated, can lead to impairment in social and occupational functioning.

What is compassion fatigue or STS? STS is ‘a syndrome of symptoms nearly identical to PTSD except that exposure to a traumatizing event experienced by one person becomes a traumatizing event for the second person’ (Figley, 1999). Compassion fatigue can occur in spouses or partners and children of service members who have experienced combat. Also professionals working with wounded warriors can indirectly be affected, limiting their ability to provide the necessary services for families and service members. Be aware of the symptoms that may be causing you compassion fatigue or STS. Symptoms may include:

  • Distressing dreams related to your service member’s traumatic experiences
  • Functional impairment due to family, social and occupational environments
  • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the service member’s experiences
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Irritability, frustration, or anger

Click on the image below for an illustrated look at additional symptoms related to compassion fatigue.

Compassion Fatigue

 

 

Self-Care for Compassion Fatigue

Caregivers – you can minimize the negative impact of compassion fatigue by learning a few simple self-care techniques. Brian Bride, Ph.D., professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia suggests’ using the “A-B-C’s of Self-Care.”

Awareness:

    • Recognize and identify compassion fatigue symptoms.
    • Monitor changes in symptoms over time.
    • Recognize and monitor changes in your functioning.

Balance:

    • Prioritize your personal life.
    • Attend to your physical health.
    • Seek therapy or counseling.

Connection:

    • Prioritize your relationship with family and friends.
    • Honor your connection to community.
    • Revitalize your sense of life’s purpose and meaning.

For more information on compassion fatigue and STS within the military, check out Dr. Bride’s recent presentation on Compassion Fatigue and self-care strategies for military caregivers and professionals.

What you once thought was stress related to your caregiving role, may actually be secondary effects from your service member’s traumatic experiencing while serving. Start today by learning how to identify and manage compassion fatigue in your caregiving role, so you can move forward to a healthier lifestyle for you and your service member.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on October 7, 2014. 

Caregiver Webinar Recap: Give Care, Take Care

iStock_000020584967MediumLast week the Military Caregiving Concentration team presented on the topic of Give Care, Take Care. The webinar included tips for military professionals and caregivers working with wounded service members in areas of autonomy and decision-making ability, Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), and finally learning to take care and give care. The goal of the presentation was to provide basic knowledge and some critical thinking skills so caregivers can effectively “give care” to their wounded warrior, while “taking care” of themselves.

Below we will briefly review lessons learned from the event. Remember, you can still view the presentation and receive continuing education credit and a certificate of completion by going to Give Care, Take Care.

Autonomy & Decision-Making

We togetherWhen a service member becomes wounded our first instinct as a caregiver is to take on all responsibilities and decisions. However, we often forget the importance that is placed on making one’s own decision and choices and how to respect the autonomy of the warrior as a surrogate decision-maker. Independence and self-esteem are promoted when the service member is able to have a say, even when the decision is simply to pick out an item of clothing for the day. Caregivers must be able to assess and recognize the services member’s abilities which will ultimately encourage the individual to feel that he/she still has some form of control.

ADLs & IADLs

ADLs are basic tasks which must be accomplished to function independently such as bathing, eating, dressing and undressing, toileting and transferring and positions. IADLs are tasks which support independent function and support life but are NOT necessarily critical. Examples of IADLs include grooming and hygiene, walking, cooking, grocery shopping, managing medications, etc.

When a wounded service member is unable to perform these activities, caregivers must step-in to provide assistance. These activities do not come without their challenges and is where the “give care” and “take care” theory comes into play.

Woman caring for sick manGive Care, Take Care

The term “give care” is simply stated–caregivers are providing care through assistance with various ADLs and IADLs. A few examples of caregiver strategies for “giving care” when it comes to eating include:

  • Beware of food hot enough to burn if the service member has weakness, shakiness or problems with grip.
  • Make sure service member’s mouth is empty before each subsequent bite.
  • Don’t rush the service member while he/she is eating.

In order to “give care,” “caregivers must learn to “take care” as well. By learning “take care” strategies, caregivers not only provide enhanced care for the service member but will increase their own personal well-being. For example, learn to practice good body mechanics and know your limitations to providing care.

While caring for a service member may seem a natural extension of one’s relationship, basic tasks associated with caregiving can become challenging and daily activities that were once simple may result in new approaches to care. For an in-depth look into decision-making, ADLs & IADLs, and giving and taking care, checkout the full presentation at Give Care, Take Care.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on September 23, 2014.

September Caregiving Webinar: Give Care. Take Care.

Join us on Wednesday, September 17 @ 11:00 a.m. EDT as we host our FREE monthly professional development webinar entitled, Give Care. Take Care, presented by Andy Crocker.

Watch and listen as Andy provides a sneak peek into what you can expect from the upcoming September 17th webinar.

How to Join the Webinar

*No registration is required; simply go to Give Care. Take Care. the day of the event to join. The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well.

The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream. You can connect to the Adobe webinars using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on September 2, 2014.