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  • Clinician’s Corner: Journal Highlights Health Needs of Women in Combat

    Read the full story: Clinician’s Corner: Journal Highlights Health Needs of Women in Combat

    We are living in a time of great change. Change offers us many opportunities for positive growth. At the same time, change may create unanswerable questions, generate heated discussions or even produce anxiety in those impacted most by the change.

    Military Integration Changes

    The Defense Department has seen a number of significant changes related to structure and mission. Notably, in 2013, the secretary of defense rescinded the 1994 Direct Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, which had previously closed many combat-related military occupational specialties to female service members. This decision raised questions about the best ways to integrate women into these positions and focused attention on the physical and psychological health needs of all military females.

    In the spring of 2014, the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs hosted the Women in Combat Symposium. More than 90 policy makers, researchers and service members from across the Defense Department examined women-in-combat issues related to fitness and health, operational, environmental, community and cultural factors. DCoE helped shape the symposium’s content and dialogue. My colleagues and I facilitated group discussions about the psychological health needs, resilience, and overall well-being of women in combat positions.

  • Clarify ‘One Drink’ to Best Assess Alcohol Misuse, Treat Patients

    Read about the Webinar Rewind: Clarify ‘One Drink’ to Best Assess Alcohol Misuse, Treat Patients
    Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

    Everyone likes to go out, have a good time and unwind from busy schedules. But using alcohol to help relax can be problematic.

    Cmdr. David S. Barry, a psychologist with Deployment Health Clinical Center, explained that providers should ensure patients understand exactly what “one drink” means during a July 23 webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

  • Clinician’s Corner: Tips to Stay Engaged in Therapy

    Read the story: Clinician’s Corner: Tips to Stay Engaged in Therapy
    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luke Rollins

    Christina Schendel, is a licensed psychologist and is special assistant for strategy integration for the Deployment Health Clinical Center. This article is written for providers and references scientific language and research.

    As clinicians, we’ve all had patients who struggle to remain engaged in therapy, especially after a breakthrough, challenging session or even an alliance rupture. We know that almost half of patients leave psychotherapy too soon, which reduces the effectiveness of therapy. Taking a look at ourselves as therapists, and the therapeutic relationship, can help us find ways to stay engaged and keep patients as active participants in their therapy.

  • Mindfulness Meditation Can Help Your Brain Handle Stress

    Read the Full Story: Mindfulness meditation can help your brain handle stress
    U.S. Army photo

    This is the first in a series of posts on mindfulness meditation. Future posts will feature mindfulness meditation techniques and how the practice can help treat various health concerns.

    After two tours of duty in Iraq, Michael (not his real name) struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild depression. A psychiatrist prescribed the 32-year-old service member medication and exposure therapy and saw him every two weeks.

    The therapy helped, but after a year Michael had trouble keeping up with the visits. He didn’t want to backslide; was there something he could do at home? Actually, there is: mindfulness meditation.

  • Routine Military Medical Visits Can Include Behavioral Health Checkup

    Read the full story: Routine Military Medical Visits Can Include Behavioral Health Checkup
    A mental health specialist provides triage to a soldier during a behavioral health assessment. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Calvert)

    When Frances stepped on the scale at her primary care visit, she had gained more than 10 pounds. She was under a lot of stress, she told the physician assistant.

    The response was immediate: A new member of the primary care team could help Frances with a plan for coping with stress. Minutes later, she was sitting down with internal behavioral health consultant Erica Jarrett. Six months later, not only was Frances less stressed, but she’d also lost the extra weight.

    Frances (not her real name) is benefiting from the Military Health System’s decision to integrate an internal behavioral health consultant (IBHC) -- either a psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker -- into the primary care team. For the military, the goal is healthier, fitter service members.

  • ‘But, I Don’t Drink Every Day’

    April is alcohol awareness month; take screening at

    April is Alcohol Awareness Month — a good time to assess drinking habits. People may hear this and joke that they’re fully aware of their drinking, but problem drinking is no laughing matter. Although drinking is a legal and accepted part of our society, for many it can lead to broken relationships, brushes with the law and for some service members, major career setbacks.

    If drinking is so common and accepted, how do we know if we have a problem with alcohol? Many people mistakenly believe that if they don’t drink every day they don’t have a problem. Actually, both maintenance drinking (drinking every day) and binge drinking (drinking excessively when you do drink) can suggest a problem with alcohol.

    The effects of drinking on home or work life may also provide clues, although you may not see this. A problem relationship with drinking isn’t always clear to the person doing the drinking.