Does Mindfulness-Based Therapy Help Trauma Sufferers Live in the Moment?

“Veterans with PTSD who received mindfulness-based therapy reported greater (though modest) improvement in symptom severity than veterans in another form of therapy.”

Mindfulness…”Living in the Moment.”  Quote from this link…

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy teaches people to pay attention to the present moment in an accepting way. Past studies have shown it can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, but could it also provide relief for those who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? A new study finds veterans with PTSD who received mindfulness-based therapy reported greater improvement in symptom severity than veterans in group therapy sessions focused on current problems. Their overall improvement, though, was modest.  PTSD affects nearly a quarter — 23 percent — of all veterans who have returned from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Left untreated, this condition poses unique dangers to veterans and their families.”


It is a true story that living in the moment doing the things you are passionate about, including making a difference for others, offers a way to keep the pain of past traumatic experiences at a safer distance and mitigates anxiety about the future.  Some will argue that these healthy distractions achieved through mindfulness-based therapy can keep a person in denial of addressing the root causes of post trauma symptoms.  I say doing both in a balanced way can be effective.  I would rather practice mindfulness therapy than use prescription drugs or alcohol as self medication for the long term.  I also need to revisit and reconcile my own life trauma circumstances as an on-going process to keep a healthy perspective of those early child and young adult years that were so painful living in a highly stressful and sometimes violent home.

In my most recent book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2, Chapter 4…Teaching Kids Empathy & Compassion…Avoid the dangers of emotional numbness and denial, explores my own experience and resources in helping parents, teachers, and children understand how mindfulness-based therapy can work effectively.  Following is an excerpt from Chapter 4…

As vice chair of Neighbors for Kids, I have the privilege and opportunity to work closely with our staff and the children as part of my role as a board member for this amazing after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Our program is growing with many new kids enjoying a very popular summer camp and registering for the start of the new school year.  Our kids become very excited and busy with recreation and academic programs centered in a core learning curriculum known as “STEAM,”  A Framework for Teaching across the Disciplines.   We are also an after-school site for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers project in collaboration with the Lincoln County School District (LCSD).

Our teachers and volunteers take a few minutes before each class to help students relax and refocus…a mindfulness exercise.  The exercise is as simple as staying quiet for 3 minutes with some deep breathing and positive thoughts.  Often children are distracted because of the challenges of socializing and sometimes from sad thoughts.  I could easily see that taking a little time for meditation with the kids helps them get ready for a new learning experience.  The short break between programs also helps us adults do a better job of mentoring and teaching kids as well. 

I have written often about the topic of “mindfulness”  (click highlighted text for video clip) in the context of life after trauma for adults.  But the practice and benefits of meditation or mindfulness therapy definitely apply broadly as a way to relax for people of all ages.  Children in particular get stressed out the same as adults.  We all need a mindfulness timeout a few times a day to stay calm and focused on the joy of living, learning, and growing.”

Take a look at my author page, and download “My Journey Part 2” and other books and resources to explore mindfulness-based therapy.  I have enjoyed far more peace of mind in these later years by becoming highly aware of my own post traumatic stress symptoms, and engaging in a balanced treatment strategy that works.  Each individual must find their own way, or in the case of children, show them the way by practicing living in the moment techniques.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1 & 2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

Steve Sparks, Author, at Sunriver, Oregon in May 2015.



“I feel nothing, or I am just angry!” Soledad O’Brien: “For veterans, the war comes home…”

Moving new CNN Special Presentation Explores Hope for Vets Struggling with Post Traumatic Stress…

A Soledad O’Brien Report… 



Garrett Combs, left, and Delon Beckett this month at a screening of “The War Comes Home.”  Click for larger view…

The outer shell of him came back. But everything on the inside was dead. 
Emme Beckett

The War Comes Home…A CNN Special Report… Click for story and video clip…a must see!  Quote from the story…

Clark said many of the men and women in his program have tried to commit suicide and had frightening near misses. Attempted suicide by cop, attempted hangings, car crashes, some even tried to kill themselves at home in the company of family or friends. Clark was there himself, no job and struggling in recovery. His experience and those of his friends are what prompted him to scrape up the money to try developing a program.”

“The meditation keeps me sober,” Beckett said of the central technique in the program. “It was only 5½ days but I learned things for my whole life.” One of the things he learned was that there is power in sharing your problem with other warriors.


The combat veteran who suffered from trauma as a child is considered a much higher risk for compounded post trauma symptoms and PTSD.  As a US Navy military child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s living with a father who braved all of WWII in hard combat and a tour of duty during the Korean War…I was already affected with the symptoms of PTSD when joining the US Navy in 1963…but didn’t have a clue.  I didn’t even experience combat but was diagnosed with symptoms of severe depression and anxiety while serving in the Navy anyway.  I am a strong believer in alternative treatment strategies that include the entire family.  Otherwise, it is very difficult if not impossible to stop the intergenerational cycle of pain connected with trauma survivors.

The treatment strategies outlined in this documentary are designed to treat the combat veteran trauma survivor as well as family members. While visiting the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, NMex  (click highlighted text for more) in May the clinical psychologists and psychiatrists present during my talk, shared that they think about the need for including the entire family in treatment, but sadly, only have the resources to treat veterans individually, excluding the family as whole.

Don’t let your veteran go it alone once on the journey of “coming home.”  Coming home can never be a reality until the trauma survivor finally feels peace of mind, self worth, and a productive member of society who can love and be loved again.  Rebuilding trust is the true test of finally coming home permanently…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click highlighted text for my author page…