"Putting Down and Letting Go": An Exploration of a Community-Based Trauma-Oriented Retreat Program for Military Personnel, Veterans, and RCMP

Lorraine Smith-MacDonald, Annelies VanderLaan, Zornitsa Kaneva, Melissa Voth, Ashley Pike, Chelsea Jones, Suzette Bremault-Phillips
2022 Trauma Care  
(1) Background: Current military members, veterans, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) experience higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and moral injury (MI). Trauma-oriented retreats have been offered as a means of addressing these concerns. This article aims to explore the impact of a non-evidence-based trauma-oriented retreat for the above populations experiencing PTSD or MI; (2) Methods: This qualitative study, nested within the larger mixed-methods pre/post
more » ... follow-up study, examined the experiences of 124 military members, veterans, and RCMP who participated in the retreat. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews and first-hand observations of the organization. Analysis was conducted using thematic analysis while being informed by realist evaluation principles; (3) Results: The results showed that important contextual elements were related to participants being ready, having multiple comorbidities and using the program as a first or last resort. Effectual mechanisms included a home-like setting; immersion; credibility of facilitators; experiential learning; an holistic approach; letting go, and reconnecting to self. Outcomes included: re-finding self, symptom management, social connection, and hope for a meaningful life. The gendered analysis suggested less favorable results; (4) Conclusions: Care is warranted as the evidence-base and effectiveness of trauma-oriented retreats yet needs to be established prior to broad use.
doi:10.3390/traumacare2020009 fatcat:dcd4x5flsngy7a3xp73ivbfr74