There is a significantly high dropout rate among veterans who seek treatment for posttraumatic stress (PTSD). Many conventional therapies, such as trauma-focused therapy, address the specific traumas that trigger symptoms of PTSD and can be so emotionally painful that the veterans cannot complete treatment. Learning how to regulate the emotional overwhelm associated with these memories is one way to increase treatment adherence and help the many thousands of individuals who suffer with PTSD. Meditation has been used in the past to help individuals cope with feelings of anxiety and depression and could provide an alternative and complementary approach to addressing the painful emotions of PTSD. The three types of meditation include object-focused, moment-to moment, and transcendental (TM). Both moment-to-moment and object-focused meditation encourage acceptance and nonjudgment of emotions, while TM increases spiritual awareness by focusing on a mantram. Through the mantram repetition program (MRP), clients are guided into meditation through repetition of a spiritual word that they can rely on at any time to bring them to a state of heightened awareness. The goal of MRP is to slow someone down so that they focus only on the present and one feeling or task at a time. This allows them to manage difficult emotions as they arise without becoming overpowered by them.
To determine if MRP would help veterans with PTSD, Jill E. Bormann of the Department of Nursing & Patient Care Services at the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health of the VA San Diego Healthcare System in San Diego recently conducted a study comparing the effects of MRP versus treatment as usual (TAU) in 146 veterans with PTSD. After 6 weeks of treatment, Bormann found that the veterans who participated in the MRP realized symptom reduction that was nearly twice that of the TAU group. Specifically, those in the MRP group exhibited significantly better emotional regulation skills and reduced anxiety when they experienced traumatic memories. The MRP participants also reported a dramatic increase in overall spiritual connectedness and well-being. Overall, the MRP group showed much better improvement than the TAU group. Bormann added, “In summary, the 6-week MRP was well received and tolerated, and demonstrated some improvement in PSTD symptoms, depression, and mental-health-related quality of life in veterans, when delivered as an adjunct to TAU (medication and case management).”
Bormann, J. E., Thorp, S. R., Wetherell, J. L., Golshan, S., & Lang, A. J. (2012). Meditation-based mantram intervention for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized trial. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0027522
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.