Public Release: 

Psychologists suggest ways to heal for returning soldiers and their families

American Psychological Association

WHO: Jaine L. Darwin, PhD, a private practitioner in Cambridge, Mass., and Walter E. Penk, PhD at Texas A & M University

WHAT: Presentations will address the positive effects of work for returning soldiers and describe how reservists and their extended families are affected by the multiple deployments in the wake of September 11, 2001 and the war in Iraq at the American Psychological Association's 115th Annual Convention

WHERE: Moscone Center
747 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Third Floor-West Building, Room 3005

WHEN: Saturday, August 18. Session 2291, 2:00 - 3:50 PM

BACKGROUND: Coping with the aftermath of war is challenging for returning soldiers and their families. Psychologists will offer ways for individuals and their families to handle post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems that may arise.

Darwin will present the estimated numbers of family members affected by the deployments and describe a program she co-directs, SOFAR: Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists, that aims to build resilience in families and help soldiers and their families adjust to the ways a family changes after a deployment. The program also offers ways to prevent or lessen trauma in children of families experiencing a deployment.

Penk will present several models of work therapies that have been effective in treating acute stress disorder and PTSD resulting from trauma in war. These models teach individuals to overcome their helplessness by (1) increasing a sense of mastery in coping with the challenge of living; (2) overcoming isolation and avoidance; (3) providing meaning in work and purpose in life that has been changed by trauma and traumatic loss in war and in killing.

These models are endorsed by the VA's strategic mental health plan of the Veterans Health Administration and are being empirically validated by VA researchers for combat veterans returning from war in Afghanistan and Iraq.


The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

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