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Therapy Treatment & Counseling for Active-Duty Military

Therapy Treatment & Counseling for Active-Duty Military

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Statistics on Mental Health & Active-Duty Military Members

  • An analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2014 found that nearly one in four active-duty personnel displayed mental health disorder symptoms.1
  • After deployments, the percentage of military personnel with depression was diagnosed at 15%, up from an 11.4% baseline.2
  • Data from the Defense Department shows a more than 40% increase in suicides among active-duty service personnel between 2015 and 2020. The numbers increased by 15% during the pandemic in 2020.3
  • Data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showed that veteran suicide rates were 1.5 times higher than non-veterans in 2016.
  • According to one study on active-duty military personnel, alcohol or drug use contributed to about 30% of completed suicides and about 20% of fatalities from high-risk conduct.
  • According to research from the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, about 20% of military men returning from Iraq and Afghanistan said they likely suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).4
  • Only about half of active-duty military personnel seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Moreover, a little over half of those receive minimally adequate care.
  • Regarding mental health diagnoses, female military members (12.8%) outpaced their male (7.5%) counterparts in five of the eight disorders examined: adjustment disorder, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.5
  • Mental health conditions led to the second-highest number of medical interactions and the most hospital bed days for U.S. Armed Forces service members on active duty in 2020.6
  • Early in the pandemic, telehealth use surged, and from March to September 2020, it was generally 25% higher than in 2019.7
  • A 2015 survey found that over 60% of military people with mental health issues don’t seek assistance.8 A similar pattern is revealed by a 2021 study, which notes that those who seek therapy for veterans are a minority.9
  • According to a RAND Corporation study, service members who deploy to war zones are more likely to experience mental health problems. Furthermore, 44% report trouble readjusting to civilian life, and nearly half report stress in family relationships.10

Common Reasons Active-Duty Service Members Seek Therapy

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are all mental health issues that active-duty service members and veterans are susceptible to.

Evidence-based therapies have proven to help with many of these mental health issues. Depending on the nature or severity of your symptoms, these therapies can work fast and efficiently, sometimes within a few weeks or months.11 However, treatment is personalized to each individual’s needs, priorities, values, preferences, and goals.

Below are a few common reasons it might be time to seek active-duty military counseling:

  • You’ve experienced a traumatic event.
  • You abuse substances to cope.
  • Your current coping methods are ineffective.
  • You have trouble concentrating.
  • Your family and loved ones believe you need professional assistance.
  • You’ve inflicted harm to self/others/mission.

Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.

What Happens in Therapy for Active-Duty Military Members?

The idea of going to your first therapy session may make you uneasy. You might believe that getting help will make you appear weak or that others won’t believe in your abilities. However, it’s important to recognize that reaching out shows courage. Early medical intervention can result in positive outcomes for you, your family, and your unit.12

Many service members will put off getting the assistance they require out of concern about stigma and possible career repercussions. Do not worry that seeking active-duty military counseling may harm your or your spouse’s career.

Additionally, counseling for active-duty military is typically considered protected information and kept private. However, there are some restrictions on privacy, such as mandatory state, federal, and military service reporting requirements exempt from secrecy (for example, domestic violence, child abuse, and duty-to-warn situations).13 Even then, only those who require notification will receive it.

Licensed therapists collaborate with service members closely throughout the therapy treatment. Your psychological health professional may inquire about your symptoms and other personal details throughout the assessment phase, typically the first, sometimes the first couple of sessions. Your answers to these questions will assist in creating a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. In addition, you’ll likely be asked to fill out paperwork.

Topics covered in this stage include:

  • Your symptom history
  • General well-being and any prescription drugs you take
  • Relationships with family, friends, and peers
  • Health practices, including eating and exercise routines
  • Previous therapies and results
  • Substance use, if any

Your provider will develop a treatment plan for you following the assessment. Therapy for active-duty military provides each individual with a customized treatment plan. This may include medication. Between meetings, you may be asked to practice the skills you gained during treatment and keep track of your symptoms.

Sessions last roughly 45 minutes on average. Depending on the availability and need, they might happen every week or every other week. Depending on your concerns, you can visit different healthcare professionals to assist with your treatment. Longer and more frequent visits are held for some mental health issues. For example, prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD may call for as many as two 90-minute sessions per week.

Once your symptoms improve, therapy sessions will be stretched over a more extended period. This offers you more time to put what you’ve learned to use on your own without a therapist’s assistance. Then, sessions may conclude or continue as necessary.

At Athena Care’s multiple mental health treatment clinics throughout Tennessee, active-duty military counseling services include the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • Family Therapy
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE)
  • Social Skills Training (SST)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Couple’s Therapy

Things to Consider When Seeking Therapy for Active-Duty Military Members

While working with a therapist who is a veteran is not required, it could be beneficial to find one familiar with the barriers active-duty military members and their families face when seeking mental health care. Counseling is most effective when you feel secure, at ease, and accepted.

You’ll probably find a string of letters following mental health professionals’ names while searching for a therapist. This is because many licensing authorities require physicians to indicate their degree (Masters, Doctorate, or Medical Doctorate) in addition to their license.

Each degree varies in terms of requirements. For example, a practicing clinician with LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) credentials in Tennessee has completed a master’s degree in social work and at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience. At least 100 hours included direct supervision, and 60 were one-on-one.14 And a psychologist (usually with a Ph.D. or PsyD) has training in many forms of psychotherapy and psychological assessment.

In addition to their credentials, below are a few other points you may want to consider when seeking active-duty military therapy:

  • Years of experience working with active-duty service members
    • More importantly, do they have experience treating individuals with your specific issue(s)? For example, have they treated individuals with traumatic brain injuries, depression, PTSD, etc.?
  • Specialties and services offered
  • Treatment methods and philosophies
    • For example, if you’re experiencing PTSD, look for a PTSD specialist trained in evidence-based drugs or effective PTSD talk therapy. Such therapies include Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
  • Insurance companies they work with
  • Hours
  • Pricing
  • Session duration

Here you’ll find a list of practitioners organized by city, along with information about their backgrounds and specialties.

Athena Care offers a full-spectrum of mental and behavioral health services to those in Tennessee.

We have qualified therapists and accept many of the big name insurance providers. Our locations are open Monday-Friday from 7am to 6pm. Learn more below:

Benefits of Therapy for Active-Duty Military

Active-duty military counseling boasts many benefits, including, but not limited to, the following:15

  • Increased awareness and concentration that improves your ability to engage with others and experience the present completely
  • The capacity to define your values and take action to realize the goals that are most important to you
  • Decrease in negative feelings and ideas
  • Decrease in symptoms related to your mental health issue(s)
  • The capacity to transform challenging projects into attainable successes
  • Increased involvement in pastimes and social gatherings, possibly even ones you liked before
  • Development of communication and problem-solving skills
  • Improved connections with family and others
  • The ability to cope with cravings and social pressures that can lead to the use of stimulants
  • Ability to manage risky situations
  • Learn new abilities to help you reach your goals and handle challenges, enhancing your overall quality of life
  • Create better, more balanced perspectives of both yourself and other people
  • Alleviate distress brought on by traumatic memories
  • Use mindfulness and relaxation techniques to help you stay present and manage emotions healthily
  • Create efficient coping mechanisms to reduce impulsive actions.

Cost & Coverage for Therapy for Active-Duty Military

Managed by the Department of Defense (DOD) health agency, TRICARE insurance is a global healthcare program for active-duty service members, retirees, and their families.16 Military mental health is a top priority with three TRICARE facilities across Tennessee.17 Your relationship with a member of the military or your specific plan will determine how much you pay for therapy.

Remember, you are not required to only go to military-approved military therapists or military treatment facilities. Some individuals might feel more at ease working with counselors who are not in the military. However, the out-of-pocket cost for active-duty military counseling varies without insurance. The average cost of psychotherapy in the United States is between $100 and $200 per session.18

Athena Care is in-network with most major insurance plans. Filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best method to determine if your insurance covers therapy for active-duty military.

Allow our highly experienced, expert care coordinators to handle the difficulties of contacting your insurance carrier for more information about active-duty military therapy services in Tennessee. After completing the form, a care coordinator will review your policy and thoroughly explain your options for mental health treatment. You can rest assured that all submitted and discussed information is confidential.

Behavioral Health Resources for Active-Duty Military

Find assistance with the following resources if you or a loved one is struggling with mental health concerns.19


  1. “Veterans and Active Duty.” National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), www.nami.org/CMSMessages/error.aspx?aspxerrorpath=/CMSPages/PortalTemplate.aspx. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.
  2. Inoue, Catarina, et al. “Veteran and Military Mental Health Issues.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 23 May 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34283458/
  3. Ashraf Khalil, Associated Press. “U.S. Military Aims to Address Mental Health as Suicides Rise.” PBS NewsHour, 10 Oct. 2022, www.pbs.org/newshour/health/as-suicides-rise-u-s-military-seeks-to-address-mental-health.
  4. Tanielian, Terri, et al. “Invisible Wounds: Mental Health and Cognitive Care Needs of America’s Returning Veterans.” RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, RAND Corporation, 2008, https://doi.org/10.7249/rb9336.
  5. Military.com. “Mental Health Disorders in Troops Far Below National Average.” Military.com, 4 Sept. 2019, www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/04/mental-health-disorders-troops-far-below-national-average.html.
  6. Moreland, Amanda, et al. “Timing of State and Territorial COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders …” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Sept. 2020, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6935a2.htm.
  7. Clark, Leslie, PhD, MS, et al. “MSMR Vol. 28 No. 08 August 2021Page 22 Surveillance of Mental and Behavioral Health Care Utilization and Use of Telehealth, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1 January 2019–30 September 2020.” Department of Defense Health Agency, Aug. 2021, file:///Users/lindsaydellinger/Downloads/MSMR%20August%202021%20v28_n08.pdf.
  8. Sharp, M. L., et al. “Stigma as a Barrier to Seeking Health Care Among Military Personnel With Mental Health Problems.” Epidemiologic Reviews, vol. 37, no. 1, Oxford UP (OUP), Jan. 2015, pp. 144–62. https://doi.org/10.1093/epirev/mxu012.
  9. Kline, Alexander C., et al. “Mental Health Care Use Among U.S. Military Veterans: Results From the 2019–2020 National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study.” Psychiatric Services, vol. 73, no. 6, American Psychiatric Association Publishing, June 2022, pp. 628–35. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.202100112.
  10. Tanielian, Terri, Caroline Batka, et al. “The Changing Landscape for Veterans’ Mental Health Care.” Rand Corporation, RAND Corporation, 2017, https://doi.org/10.7249/rb9981.2.
  11. “Evidence-Based Therapy.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2022, https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/get-help/treatment/ebt.asp
  12. Defense Centers of Excellence. “What to Expect in Therapy.” Military.com, 13 July 2022, www.military.com/benefits/veterans-health-care/what-to-expect-in-therapy.html.
  13. R Fletcher. “7 Counseling Options for Service Members and Their Families.” Military OneSource, 12 August 2020, www.militaryonesource.mil/confidential-help/non-medical-counseling/military-and-family-life-counseling/7-counseling-options-for-service-members-and-their-families.
  14. Writers, Staff. “Social Work Licensure in Tennessee | Find Accredited Programs.” SocialWorkLicensure.Org, 1 July 2019, socialworklicensure.org/state/social-work-licensure-tennessee.
  15. VA.gov | Veterans Affairs. www.mentalhealth.va.gov/get-help/treatment/ebt.asp.
  16. “About Us.” TRICARE, 2018, https://www.tricare.mil/About
  17. “Find a Military Hospital or Clinic.” TRICARE, 2022, https://www.tricare.mil/mtf?country=-1&state=46&pageNo=1&pageSize=5&view=mapx
  18. Lauretta, Ashley. “How Much Does Therapy Cost?” edited by Alena Hall, Forbes Health, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/how-much-does-therapy-cost/
  19. Dorner, Jessica. “Mental Health – Resources.” Military OneSource, 14 Nov. 2022, www.militaryonesource.mil/health-wellness/mental-health/mental-health-resources.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control. 

(615) 320-1155