Dr. Beverly Ann Dexter

  • Combat Trauma Treatment Expert

An Active Duty US Navy Commander, Dr. Beverly Ann Dexter is a warfare qualified former U.S. Special Operations Officer (diver and ship driver) and former U.S. Navy Supply Corps Officer. She has served operational tours on four Navy ships and on Marine Corps bases as a psychologist. She also deployed with U.S. Marines to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom. CDR Dexter has lived military life from the angle of single person, double active duty couple, 'dependent' wife and mom, deployed mom, stationed overseas, and service in a combat zone. Founder of the EMDRIA Military Special Interest Group and ISTSS Military Special Interest Group, Dr. Dexter is a lead in the effort to improve trauma treatment resources for Active Duty, Reservists, and National Guard members and their families. She has also taught her Planned Dream Intervention (copyright) theory in the workshop.

Workshops, Presentations and Seminar Topics

Military 101: Effective Therapy with Military and their Families

Worldwide, more and more families are traumatized by disturbingly increasing combat violence. Military tours in combat zones are now frequently involuntarily extended leading to more trauma experiences. If military personnel utilize military medical facilities they expect the providers to be experts on military culture. However, military culture training is not taught in mental health graduate programs. The military community is an entire culture with many honorable customs and traditions. To fail to learn about military culture when working with military families would be tantamount to telling a client that ethnic minority issues were not worthy of therapeutic consideration. It is not necessary however, for therapists to have served in the military in order to provide high quality service to military individuals and their families. It is even more critical now for mental health providers to learn about military culture because many Activated Reservists, National Guard and their families may receive mental health services outside the structured military mental health setting. In this workshop we will identify how to use military culture knowledge to build rapport and to set up effective treatment plans. Combat stress reactions, narcissism issues, 'violations of the social contract' and other trauma affect military service members and often vicariously traumatize family members. Workshop participants are encouraged to bring sample cases for discussion and role-play opportunity.

Working with Combat Trauma

Various types of human experiences cause severe emotional distress. Present day combat, however, can produce complex traumatic experiences that some therapists feel ill equipped to handle. The 'narcissism of the returning combat soldier' and violations of trust complicate treatment for extremely horrific experiences. Service in a combat zone can be like one trauma after another all day every day. Additionally, unexpected tour extensions feel like an extreme trust violation to many. It is important to look at not just the facts of the event, but also the meaning of the event in the context of the individual's life and personal relationships. Some parts of the combat experience are disturbing to the individual because they are violations of unspoken but understood agreements between people. These implied covenants are the 'social contract,' or the glue that holds civilizations and relationships together. Individuals seeking treatment are sometimes most distressed over such
breaches of the social contract but may not identify them in treatment because such violations are things people are supposed to do and you aren't supposed to have to tell others to do them. When a Soldier goes off to combat his/her partner is supposed to be faithful and is supposed to be there waiting when the Soldier steps off the plane. Marines and Soldiers are supposed to have effective equipment and their service is supposed to be appropriately honored and rewarded. Additionally, when someone is traumatized by violation of the social contract the injury is not visible and may be minimized by others. Violations of the social contract that are not resolved can destroy the individual's sense of safety in the world and can corrode relationships and generations of families. Full resolution of the emotional distress caused by the experience requires that therapists working with combat veterans also assess and treat violations of the social contract. Effective treatment for traumatic violations of the social contract may involve different therapeutic approaches and may include family members, others outside the family, or advocacy. This workshop will enhance participants ability to assess and treat combat veterans and their families.

Following is a list of organizations with whom Dr. Dexter has interviewed, consulted or trained:

EMDR International Association

Marine Corps Community Services Camp Lejeune

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth

Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms

Al Asad Air Base, Iraq


Dr. Dexter
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