Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution: Using Technology to Support Couples Throughout Deployment
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The deployment cycle presents unique challenges for military couples. Marital outcomes have been shown to be negatively impacted throughout the deployment process, and at-home stressors can serve as distractions for service members that can compromise their effectiveness and safety. Tele-mental health, specifically the delivery of therapy via videoconferencing, has been shown to be an effective therapy medium, particularly for reaching underserved or isolated populations. A case can be made for the use of tele-mental health as a means of delivering therapy to military couples throughout the deployment process in an effort to strengthen their relationship and enhance service member well-being during deployment. This form of therapy may be particularly valuable to couples experiencing barriers to care due to stigma, rural location, or limited access to military resources (i.e. National Guard service members). Three general recommendations for this form of treatment are first provided, which include (1) work within the military culture, (2) capitalize on existing support structures, and (3) receive training in tele-mental health delivery. Five additional recommendations are provided which are specific to delivering couples therapy while the service member is deployed. These recommendations include (1) tailor treatment to fit the service member’s context, (2) prioritize service member safety, (3) encourage the development of couple skills in therapy, (4) be intentional about session management, and (5) engage the at-home spouse. Legal and ethical considerations, as well as intended benefits for this method of treatment are also discussed.