Survive to Thrive: Army veteran’s online PTSD course helping fellow soldiers adapt to life after war

An online counselling course created by an Iraq war veteran is having promising results treating Defence Force personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.


The course has gained the attention of the RSL and the ADF, who are looking to incorporate such programs into their own rehabilitation resources.

Former Army scout Dane Christison came up with the course after going through what he called a “horrific slump of depression”.

He was growing increasingly frustrated with the PTSD treatment he was receiving and wanted to bridge the gap between military and civilian life.

Mr Christison said he designed the course to “break things down the way the military teaches you.”

It focuses on six key areas of happiness; spiritual; psychological and emotional; physical; relationships; within your environments; and finance.

RSL medical advisor Dr Roderick Bain said the program used language military people could relate to.

“It’s done by 30-year-olds for 30-year-olds, instead of the old male telling you what’s good for you, and it’s very attractive in that way,” he said.


Talissa Papamau, an army medic, said the course changed her life.

She was struggling after serving in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.

“We lost quite a few soldiers and I was involved in various degrees of their care in their final stages and I started suffering symptoms of PTSD long before I had even got home,” she said.

She said what set the Survive to Thrive program apart was that it had been made by people who had been to war and experienced rock bottom.

“It’s such a unique and institutionalised world being in the military and then the experiences that we have overseas are often so extreme,” she said.

“So it’s very very difficult to map those across to some of the civilian courses that they have available.”

‘They are locked into a place of wartime’

Rachael Buckland runs an employment agency for military personnel making the transition to civilian life.

She said she was seeing more and more young war veterans with PTSD.

“I’m seeing clients that were so emotionally attached to serving the country they can’t find a way forward. They are locked into a place of wartime,” she said.

She said Survive to Thrive was giving them hope.

“It takes things from a level of self awareness through to exercise, through to mindfulness. All of the concepts that aren’t often practised by a team of vocational consultants,” she said.

“But more than anything, it’s about coming from a place of someone who’s been there.”

The course is online, making it easy to access for veterans.

“There are a lot of veterans who aren’t leaving their house and we can get this to them,” Mr Christison said.

“The course doesn’t judge you, it makes you look deeply inside yourself and ask am I being a victim of my condition or am I ready to be a victor?”

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