As you might imagine, PTSD support is a large part of what we do, both as providers of peer support specialist training and as educators in the field of critical incident stress management.
Because our work is closely related to the military and first responder fields, PTSD is an unfortunate reality for many of our clients, and ultimately, one that we hope to help more people avoid.
Sometimes our PTSD support students come to our workshops with the idea that peer support programs are a substitute for psychotherapy following a critical incident. This is untrue.
Ideally, PTSD support provided by trained peers specialists should work hand-in-hand with psychotherapy. In many cases, it’s a precursor that helps all parties realize that more extensive therapy is necessary, and in some cases, it acts in a complementary manner to psychotherapy over the long-term.
Differences Between PTSD Support From Peers Vs. Psychotherapy
As outlined in an article published by Psychiatric Quarterly (2002), there are marked differences between psychotherapy and the type of peer support provided during critical incident stress management (CISM):
|Short-term and focused on the here-and-now||Long-term and often focused on past events|
|Provided by peers as well as trained professionals||Always provided by a trained professional|
|Designed to manage immediate trauma response and reduce stress||Designed to achieve both short- and long-term goals involving personal growth and behavior change|
We hope this post has helped you to understand the differences between peer-provided PTSD support and the support that’s provided by a psychotherapist. Both are incredibly important in the lives of military personnel and first responders who must manage critical incident stress on a daily basis.