Tim Black

Tim Black

Couple teaches families to manage PTSD

Kathryn Linford admits in the years after her husband Chris returned from serving overseas in the Canadian military, she was afraid of him.

Kathryn Linford admits in the years after her husband Chris returned from serving overseas in the Canadian military, she was afraid of him.

Chris had been on a number of operational tours during his 33 years of service, originally as a reservist in Calgary and then with Canadian Forces Health Services. But it was a deployment to Rwanda in 1994, in which he returned home and was profoundly changed.

Chris was agitated all the time and was constantly angry at everything and everyone. The couple’s three children, who ranged in age from 10 to 17, didn’t fully understand what was happening, but didn’t see their father as a loving and kind man, nor did they trust him.

“We ended up being afraid to be around him and walked on egg shells most of the time, not really knowing what kind of mood he was in or what might set him off,” Kathryn said.

She eventually began to notice triggers — things that would set Chris off and consciously made efforts to prevent situations that could harm him.

In 2004, Chris was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and asked for help. After a mission in Afghanistan in 2009, which brought his PTSD back “with a vengeance,” he was found unfit for duty and shortly after was released from the military.

But it wasn’t until the couple shared their own versions of their stories at a conference in Cornwall about coping with PTSD that Chris realized it wasn’t just something that affected him.

“It was a profound experience for me to sit there and listen to Kathryn tell her part. For the first time, I was really hearing her voice and it was validated in my mind as having also been injured from PTSD,” said Chris. “For the longest time I thought it was really just my issue and it didn’t involve them (my family) . . . That changed everything, it changed our whole direction.”

Kathryn and Chris have now been managing PTSD in their home for the past 22 years and are helping others do the same.

The couple went on to co-found a program to help Canadian families deal with the challenges of transitioning to civilian life after experiencing conflict abroad.

The program, called Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday (COPE), launched in January 2015 with the help of University of Victoria trauma specialist Tim Black. As part of the two-phase program, veterans and their spouses struggling with PTSD go on a five-day residential retreat, followed by a six-month coaching phase. Couples return home and are assigned a family coach, who help them achieve the goals they set for themselves over the retreat.

“Shifting that perspective to understand that the family is dealing with PTSD, not just the person, it destigmatizes it and helps them approach it in a different way. They can work together to combat it, rather than one person supporting someone else’s individual journey to get better,” said Black of the program.

Chris and Kathryn also co-facilitate the workshops, and share their own personal stories of struggling with the disorder.

“As Kathryn and I have found, the stronger our connection was from day to day, the better the energy was for us to move forward and get well again,” Chris said, adding the program is not a treatment for PTSD, but a management tool to teach couples to work together to manage the disorder.

By the end of December, the program will have helped 50 couples in New Brunswick, Alberta, Ontario and B.C since it began and the demand continues to grow. There is currently a waiting list of more than a year for the program.

For more information about Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday visit copecanada.com.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Court-registered sex offender arrested for breach of parole in Langford

Cameron Ratelle returned to correctional facility after female youth approached at bus stop

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read