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Reintegration: Overcoming Challenges with Therapy

Military family counseling with Carolina Counseling Services North Fayetteville Office Fayetteville NC, Counseling for Army families near Fort Bragg NC, reintegration counseling in Fayetteville NC, reintegration therapy fayetteville nc, reintegration counseling for military families,

Reintegration: Overcoming Challenges with Therapy


The whole family starts counting down as their military servicemember’s end of deployment draws near. Their coming home is a supposedly a celebratory occasion. At least that’s what outsiders think of family reunions after a deployment or many long months of uncertainty and fears. The reality is that it isn’t always the “fairy tale ending” hoped for. Reintegration is often an awkward adjustment full of challenges, even for loving families.

The initial days after the homecoming can indeed be a happy reunion, but maybe not for long. If you are a military spouse, your high hopes can be dampened as days pass by. There is a good chance that your expectations may not be met, particularly when the deployment was eventful.  There is also a big chance that the children will feel awkward as they allow the returning parent to seamlessly fit in with all the “goings-on” in their life and home.

You and the children won’t likely be “veterans” when it comes to reintegration. There will often be mixed emotions – excitement and happiness, as well as uneasiness or “butterflies fluttering in your stomach” – with each reunion. These emotions are completely expected, and your fears are understandable. As a military spouse left in the care of the children and the home, you will again be at the helm of the new adjustments. Know that help isn’t too far. Reintegration therapy can assist you in facilitating an easier and happier reintegration.


Understanding Reintegration

Reintegration is the period after the joyous return of the serviceman/woman to his/her family. It is a process that is typically fraught with emotion. The safe return of a military spouse/parent from a deployment is an answered family prayer. So, it is looked forward to with much eagerness and excitement. It is undeniable, nonetheless, that not being used to having him/her around, adjustments must be made. As the celebratory mood fades, and as the whole family falls back into old routines, the tense adjustments begin for everyone.

You and your family will likely not know what to expect from reintegration because no two deployments are identical. Though reintegration experiences can be a source of help, certain stressors are too painful and challenging. There were changes in the profiles of service personnel, with more women becoming a part of the force. This means that it isn’t just fathers/husbands that have left and are going through reintegration, but mothers/wives too. The process of reintegration can also be extra challenging when the ones deployed and returning are single parents.

Changed roles occur during deployment – mothers making all the decisions in the absence of the father, fathers taking care of the household and the children while the wife/mom is away, and the children seeking approval and working with the present parent. These require certain adjustments. Upon their return and reintegration, shifting the roles once again can take a lot out of everyone. If the family decides to leave military bases to be closer to other relatives for support or financial reasons, they readjust not only for the shifting roles, but also to a new location.


The Challenges to Face

Each day, a horde of servicemembers leave their military bases to end their deployment or their careers and begin life anew as a private citizen. Readjusting is something that they are also anxious about, not knowing what changes have occurred while they are away and becoming different too, because of the unique military situation they have been accustomed to. Living by different rules and being away for a long time can result in the reintegration being very difficult. These factors can significantly change everyone collectively and individually.

For instance, the structure and hierarchy of the military may have vested you with decision making “power” that you may continue doing at home upon return, out of habit. The children, who may now be seeking approval for everything from the other parent, may absent-mindedly continue to do so, as if the military parent is still not there. In this situation, the returning military parent/spouse may have difficulty fitting into the family that got used to not having him/her around, despite everyone’s conscious effort for the servicemember to ease back into the “old” structure or routines. Recurrent deployments and reintegration can bring in more issues, specifically when the growing brood become important elements of reintegration.

There are many challenges that servicemembers encounter when they work on their reintegration back into the family, new jobs and society. Without acting on these, reintegration can lead to an emotional crisis that can threaten life gains. What are these challenges? The common issues during reintegration are cited in Mental Health:


  • Relating to people who do not know or understand what military personnel have experienced (and many civilians don’t know that they don’t know!).
  • Reconnecting with family and re-establishing a role in the family.
  • Joining or creating a community.
  • Preparing to enter the work force.
  • Returning to a job
  • Creating structure.
  • Adjusting to providing basic necessities (e.g., food, clothing, housing).
  • Adjusting to a different pace of life and work.
  • Individualistic culture versus a culture of service and teamwork.
  • Establishing services.


Facing Your Unique Issues

Becoming reintegrated with the family, the workforce and the society you left when you joined the service is “easier said than done.” There are emotional, social and legal aspects involved in the process. The deployment, especially long and arduous ones, may lead to varied reasons for a breach in a relationship: extended separation, parental estrangement, a trying divorce, domestic violence, and/or physical or emotional abuse. It won’t be easy, but despite the pain and difficulties, facing the unique challenges is necessary. Seeking outside assistance can help. This can come in the form of “family reintegration counseling.”

What is family reintegration counseling or therapy? It is a professional approach that has been created and honed to assist the whole family to gradually restore relationships and progressively become reacquainted with the return of a deployed, “alienated” member. Its main objective is to transform the splintered family back into a loving and caring unit. Hence, during the counseling process, the effect of the long period of separation is addressed to be able to reestablish the healthy foundations of a functional and devoted family.

The approach that a professional family counselor/therapist applies to your family is unique because each family is different. Families have different issues. They also have different complicating factors. According to NCBI Resources, “The nature of a servicemember’s homecoming is related to the terms on which she or he left the family.” Aside from the family issues before deployment, some factors that may affect reintegration are the matters that lead to alienation, the age of the children that may have increased resistance as they grow older, the subsequent problems they faced because of deployment, sickness in the family, etc.


Adjusting with Family Reintegration Counseling/Therapy

Realistically, there is no simple formula for reintegration or reunification after a long and eventful deployment. Regardless of the surrounding circumstances, there will be issues that may complicate the process. If a family member is returning from a military operation, don’t wait wondering and worrying how it will go. You have the option to prepare the waiting family long before the arrival and immediately after the return with the help of a counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC. 

The reintegration of a family member might not go as smoothly as it does in a fairy tale. The challenges may not vanish as fast as they come. Becoming reacquainted and reunified with the family and other immediate social relationships can be more complex than you may think. One or more members can become overwhelmed with reintegration. This is because adjustments usually take time. It isn’t something that you can easily switch “on or off.” It’s important to be realistic, though, that it won’t last forever. With the help of a right-fit, caring therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC, your family can be “back on track” sooner than later.

If a returning family member feels alienated or you are worrying about the adjustments, don’t delay seeking help. Your family reintegration therapy can be tailored depending on your family needs, and in a neutral setting. Contact Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC now to know more about the process.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC
Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bowmore NC, Autryville NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Pineview NC, Rex NC, Lemon Springs NC, Johnsonville NC, Eastover NC, Stedman NC and Wade, NC
Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Choose your Therapist

  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, and Cash

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    Location: Fayetteville, NC