Psychologist helps Afghanistan civilians - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Psychologist helps Afghanistan civilians

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC)--  There's been a long standing belief - that mental health is a sign of weakness and for troops as well as civilians serving during war - the stigma associated with seeking psychological help... suggested you simply weren't tough enough.

We have seen the kind of success that a listening ear and sound advice can have for those affected by the perils of war.

It may be easy to picture because we see story after story of the war zone but it's hard to fathom what it is truly like to be there.

Dr. Norton says, "The purpose of the mission was to meet the needs for that civilian work for that day but for the civilian who saw a military counterpart killed because they were on that mission that was very difficult for him."

Survivors guilt...It's only one of the things Dr. Steve Norton deals with on a day to day basis.

Stationed in Kabul Afghanistan Dr. Norton is the first ever psychologist to work at the Afghanistan embassy. He provides mental health help and seminars for civilians.

Working with his patients to prevent trauma and stress...like scaling back expectations so they can more easily recognize the small successes they've had.

Norton explains, "They want to make a difference by going to Afghanistan with the idea that you're going to leave there after a year and Afghanistan is going to be a modern democracy I mean that's just not going to happen."

Dr. Norton travels the country counseling and working with military personal in the field.

Norton explains, "Being involved in a very traumatic incident where the people are hurt, injuries any type of an incident with children involved that can have a big effect on soldiers I've been out to bases where I've had to shower with water bottles for example and having to do that on a daily basis that itself takes a toll."

What Dr. Norton calls home many here would see as poverty.

Norton says, "It does make you realize that people don't appreciate all that they have here and when you've been to some place where those rights and freedoms aren't present coming back here makes you realize this is a pretty good place."

This fourth of July brings about a strong appreciation for the men and women in our military. It's the other 364 days we need to remember that level of sacrifice they put forth each day for our freedom.

Dr. Norton says, "Not only the freedom but the government. The civil services we have here are much more pronounced. The fact that we're in a park here , a very nice memorial. Those things don't exist in Afghanistan and if they did they've been blown up. It definitely makes you appreciate not only what America has but the potential strong government and strong military can provide."

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