Psychological Support: Therapeutic Support For Astronauts

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Everyone needs support. Human beings are social animals and research shows how vital support is in every human endeavor from parenting to addiction recovery. Psychological support is proven to be as vital as providing food and water after a crisis or catastrophe. Psychological support is credited with allowing people to re-acclimate faster after a trauma with less after effects. In the early days of NASA space programs, psychology and psychological support was not appreciated as it is today. In fact, there was a time where Psychologists removed from the astronaut program.

When NASA selected the first astronauts, there was much discussion as to who these men had to be. Because of the danger involved, it was decided that these men had to be brave. However, it was also decided that they should have good looks and a certain marketing factor to make the race to the moon appeal to the American Public. The psychologists who participated in the search and testing were adamant about the possibility that certain personality aspects should disqualify these men from the program. However, the NASA chiefs felt that the very qualities that should disqualify them, namely blind competitiveness, narrow focused, and poor team players, were the Right Stuff.

What NASA did not count on was the psychological toll that space travel would take on these men. As these first Astronauts orbited Earth, some were reported to hallucinate, and others had issues controlling their anxiety. The NASA controllers were quick to consult with the Psychologists and implement direct calls with their families. They found that talking to familiar voices settled the astronauts and allowed them to focus on the mission.

Today, Psychological Support is something that is a part of pre-flight, during flight, and after-flight protocol. This is usually done with a professional psychologist who performs psychotherapy on the astronauts. Thankfully, many people have evolved from the erroneous belief that those who seek or need therapy are “crazy”. NASA believes now that psychotherapy for all its astronauts is a necessary part of their training and a vital part of maintaining the person mentally healthy while on a mission.

A typical astronaut can schedule between 1 to 3 sessions a week with their therapist. Most astronauts choose to see their therapist weekly, and also see or speak to their family on a regular basis. A session can cover anything that the astronaut deems necessary from how they get along with their crew mates to dealing with the pressure of being away from their family. The physical toll on the individual cannot be overlooked either as well as how that can affect them mentally.

We all need psychological support. The benefits of receiving professional counseling are numerous. With the advent of online counseling, you don’t even have to leave your home or office! You can also choose to do phone sessions like an astronaut. Whether it is just to deal with the stress of life or simply someone to vent to, we all need someone who is there for us.