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Families of Troops Suffer Too – What Can They Do??

12 Apr

Hi Belleruth,
Thanks for the info about how guided imagery is helping veterans at the V.A.  I had a chance to share the research today with a V.A. counselor who is finding that spouses need to navigate how to not get lost in the partner's PTSD, and be open hearted at the same time.  Can you recommend something for the second-hand PTSD population? Would you consider creating relaxation/imagery audios to meet the healing and boundary needs of the spouses and children of the returning vets??

Answer: I know this is a big issue, Anna.  Secondary trauma or Compassion Fatigue can be just as debilitating as PTSD that is directly acquired, and generally speaking, what works for PTSD works for secondary trauma, as well or better.  Many spouses work with the Healing Trauma CD with excellent results. The Relationship imagery can help any couple in a more general way.  

As for imagery that specifically targets support of healthy, protective boundaries, the Relaxation & Wellness imagery probably does that most directly.  The narrative creates a kind of psychological, spiritual and energetic cushion-boundary around listeners (filled with all the good wishes, prayers, gratitude and loving kindness ever sent their way,) insulating them from what they don’t want, but still allowing in whatever is good and nourishing, so it promotes a sense of well-being without soft-soaping the difficulties.

The new Caregiver Stress imagery that I just recorded, due out in May, might be very good for this too, even though it's not specifically what I had in mind when I wrote it.   It was written more for caregivers of disabled family members or professionals who care for chronically ill patients, but, upon going over the script, I see that it would work well for this situation too. 

My only caveat would be, if there's serious abuse or danger involved, the spouse should forget about this imagery (which encourages sticking with it, offers emotional and imaginal support for tenacity, resourcefulness, kindness, seeing beyond the behavior to the beauty beneath, dipping into nourishing memories etc, etc, etc) and just grab the kids and get the heck out of there. I wouldn't want to see this imagery being misused to help keep somebody in a terrible situation where they really need to leave.

For younger kids, say pre-school through early elementary school, Roxanne Daleo’s CDs are great support; for older elementary school kids, Betty Mehling’s Magic Island or Charlotte Reznick’s Discovering Your Special Place work really well. For pre-adolescents or younger adolescents, Fern Fujimoto’s E-Motion CDs are excellent. Any of these audios will help “install” powerful self-regulation and self-calming skills in kids – a lifelong gift.  Older adolescents and sophisticated younger teens should stick to the adult CDs.

I hope this helps.

All best,


Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award