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"Warrior Mind Training": The Right Words for Selling Meditation to the Troops

13 Oct

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you in Salt Lake City (Snowbird, to be exact) the weekend just before Thanksgiving – November 22-23 – for our 9-CE weekend workshop, Reversing Panic Attacks, Acute Stress and PTSD, sponsored by The ConferenceWorks.  There’s a nice price break for registering by Oct 24th, so if you’re interested, do check it out.  You can get more information and/or register here.

I’ve been getting a kick out of the way we mental health practitioners have finally gotten smart in how we describe our meditation, guided imagery and other critically important, resilience-inducing, mind-body programs to our armed forces.  The language is so important, and, sadly, therapists have always thrown around pathologizing jargon, such as symptoms, healing, disorder, etc, without thinking what that sounds like to the person on the other end.  It’s just the way most of us were trained to talk, for better or worse.  And for most people in the macho – or even not-so-macho - professions, this is a turn-off.   My experience has been that soldiers, police officers, EMT’s and firefighters actually like learning these techniques and using them, and they’re good at them.  But not if it means they’re sick and this will help them get better.

Using a teaching/training model, as opposed to a healing/fixing model is critical. Look at the popularity of life coaching vs. therapy – a big chunk of its appeal is due to its positive, normative name.

So I smiled broadly as I read last week about the Warrior Mind Training going on at Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg – enlightened bases that order bushel baskets of our guided imagery, by the way – thinking, what a fine choice of words!  “Warrior” surely beats “patient”; “mind” connotes strength and control, not a bunch of deficits; and ditto for “training” over “therapy” or “treatment”.   The sooner we mental health professionals wise up and start paying attention to the language we use (and along with it the attitudes that language connotes), the more useful we’ll be to the people who can use our services.

If any of you have had experiences with this – either getting stung or encouraged by the language used in proferred services – from either side of the equation, whether you’re a mental health professional or an end-user, please post your story.

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