PTSD: Tools to disciple another

I’m indebted to Chaplain Ramsey Coutta for serving his country as a Chaplain in the Army National Guard and for taking his experiences to write about them in his good book: “The Veteran’s Toolkit for PTSD.”  If you use a summary of the notes, please give him credit.

Tools for PTSD1

(Use this only with God’s Word)

1)      Learn about PTSD symptoms

a)       Re-experiencing symptoms: the situation seems very real.

i)         Frequently having upsetting thoughts, memories or dreams about a traumatic event.

ii)       Acting or feeling as though the traumatic event were happening again, sometimes called a “flashback.”

iii)      Having strong feelings of distress when reminded of the traumatic event.

iv)     Being physically responsive, such as experiencing a surge in your heart rate or sweating, to reminders of the traumatic event.

b)       Avoidance symptoms

i)         Making an effort to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event

ii)       Making an effort to avoid places or people that remind you of the traumatic event

iii)      Having a difficult time remembering important parts of the traumatic event.

iv)     A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities.

v)       Feeling distant from others or feeling as though your life may be cut short.

vi)     Experiencing difficulties of having positive feelings, such as happiness or love.

c)       Hyperarousal symptoms

i)         Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep.

ii)       Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger.

iii)      Having difficulty concentrating or being jumpy or easily startled.

iv)     Feeling constantly “on guard” or like danger is lurking around every corner.


2)      Manage flashbacks to control your thoughts and emotions

a)      Know what causes you to “remember” or become aware of them.  Accept how the body reacts.

b)      Identify early warning signs for flashbacks.

c)      Journal your emotions when you remember situations to understand trends, events, so you can reread what you have gone through, are going through and can be prepared for what could happen in the future. Just start writing and don’t be concerned about where you start, but write down anything that comes to mind. Once finished, reread and reflect on it for personal understanding.

d)      Consider the five senses to regain focus on reality; the event is in the past.

e)      Enlist the support of others to help through challenging moments Pro 24:6

f)       Identify the thoughts that bring things back to the control of Jesus  2 Cor. 10:4-5 Accept the thoughts are part of the past and press to the future.

g)      Help your mind by proactively accepting the reality of the past Phil. 3:1-13


3)      Address guilt that you survived and your friend did not

a)      You did survive.  Everything comes under the sovereignty of God.

b)      Meditate on truth and consider what the guilt is coming from and what the 2ndand 3rd order effects are. Allow yourself to mourn and accept what your feelings might be.  They may be different than anyone else Ecc. 3:4

c)      Accept what cannot be changed Matt 5:4


4)      Build resiliency

a)      Develop problem solving skills – do the previous so that you can calm approach future events.

b)      Trust that you can change and learn to control the emotions by 2 Cor. 10:4-5

c)      Seek help from the Lord in wise friends Matt. 6:33; Jer. 17:5;

d)      Be connected with friends and family Pro 18:24

e)      Disclose to friends and family what you can share.  Be a survivor rather than a victim.


5)      Stop avoiding  the problem – it leaves the problem hidden and prowling to engulf

a)      Face the reality of the past and share with trusted friends as necessary Pro. 18:24; cf. Jam 5:16

b)      Think on what is true and honorable Phil. 4:8

Practical Suggestions


1)      Renew Relationships

a)      Spend time with family and friends who are supportive

b)      Increase your contact with other veterans who can guide you to God’s Word.

c)      Join a home group from church


2)      Become more active

a)      Overcome the feeling of apathy and laziness

b)      Engage in a variety of activities – work, hobby, house, family outings.

c)      Set goals of what makes sense, but stretches you from where you are.

d)      Track your progress.  Keep your goals reasonable.


3)      Acceptance

a)      Account for past experiences

b)      Accept that they happened and the events that cannot change.

c)      End the war with the past events.

d)      Commit yourself to future progress.


4)      Develop a daily activity plan

a)      Build a calendar for good stewardship of time Eph. 5:15-17

b)      Develop goals for the calendar


5)      See things for how they really are

a)      Discuss with another your thoughts and let them give you feedback for objectivity

b)      Make a page for situation/thoughts/put off/ put on/ new plan


6)      Train yourself to relax

a)      Learn to relax from hyperactivity (workouts, movies, etc.)

b)      Get a comfortable chair and think through muscles relaxing

c)      Release the tension


7)      Prepare to sleep better

a)      Do workouts early in the day

b)      Eat big meals at least four hours before rest.

c)      Stick to a regular sleep schedule

d)      Avoid naps after 2pm

e)      Lower lighting and noise an hour before sleeping.


8)      Take a break from anger

a)      Read booklets on dealing with anger.

b)      Take a break to gain calm.

c)      Restore relationships that have been injured from personal actions.

d)      Find enjoyable activities like reading, movies, challenging games.

e)      Exercise

f)       Prayer


1Adapted fromThe Veteran’s Toolkit for PTSD by Chaplain (LTC) Ramsey Coutta



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