Chris Linford, a retired lieutenant-colonel, was deployed to Rwanda in 1994. There in the midst of the genocide, he was deeply impacted by what he saw, leaving him “profoundly altered.” Chris returned home and began experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He struggled to control his anger, depression and insomnia on his own until he sought help in 2004, 10 years later. Chris’ wife, Kathryn, and his three children were also significantly impacted by his PTSD. Although his individual treatment allowed him to return to duty and serve in Afghanistan, it was his subsequent treatment in 2011 that truly made a difference. This treatment took into account how PTSD impacted Chris’ wife and children. He began to listen, give them space and communicate with them in more constructive ways. Trust, honesty and cooperation was re-established as Kathryn and Chris went through couples therapy together.
From this experience, the Linfords have developed and launched an innovative pilot program called Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday (COPE) to help other couples going through the same struggles. Funding from the non-profit organization Wounded Warriors allowed the creation of COPE, which involves two phases of treatment and therapy.
- Phase One: Five couples participate in a five-day COPE program retreat to foster a sense of community, share experiences, and learn new skills to support recovery from PTSD. The training is provided by two trauma experts and the Linfords.
- Phase Two: ongoing coaching over the telephone for six months to reinforce the skills learned and encourage couples to continue working on them as a team.
COPE will begin in January, 2015 with the trial beginning in April, 2015. It will offer four sessions over the follow year, finishing in January, 2016.