LAKE IN THE HILLS – When the veterans therapy group he organized lost its funding last fall, Ted Biever was determined to continue the group sessions for one reason: It had truly helped veterans suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The members of that group had been taught the Emotional Freedom Technique, which involves tapping certain parts of the head or chest to relieve symptoms of stress.
It helped a former Army Ranger who had nightmares about his time serving in Somalia. It helped the Iraq veteran whose friends asked unwanted questions about his experience overseas. It helped Biever, a Vietnam veteran, himself.
“There are so many vets out there that need this,” Biever said. “I figure if it helps one veteran, it’s worth it all.”
The group, which he had organized with Tammy Stroud from the McHenry County Mental Health Board, disbanded last fall. Since then, Biever has collaborated with the McHenry County Behavioral Health Foundation to get grant funding to restart it.
The group, which is free to all veterans, will meet at 7 p.m. May 10 at the Lake in the Hills American Legion Post 1231 for an informational session for veterans and their spouses.
For the eight Tuesdays after that, both veterans and their spouses will meet in separate groups with the counselors to learn about techniques for managing symptoms of depression, PTSD and military sexual trauma.
Sharon Smith, a contract administrator for the Behavioral Health Foundation, said the group has spent time finding three licensed clinicians who also are trained in Emotional Freedom Technique, a difficult task in this region.
She said studies have shown 90 percent of veterans who try it see a reduction in PTSD symptoms, which can include fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, inability to eat and difficulty maintaining relationships.
“It’s not like cognitive behavior therapy. It doesn’t make the veteran relive the incident or the trigger that would cause symptoms of PTSD,” Smith said.
Another positive, Smith said, is veterans or their spouses can become trained in administering the therapy. The treatment complements other therapy veterans might be going through.
Stroud also said the group is hoping to expand to another location farther north using a peer mentor model, in which veterans who have learned the therapy technique can be trained as tapping coaches and teach others to use it.