Military Psychology: what it is, characteristics and functions
Let's see what Military Psychology is, and the functions of the Psychologist in the Armed Forces.
Over the last few years, Military Psychology has been gaining notoriety within the Armed Forces, becoming recognized as a full-fledged health profession.It has come to be recognized as a full-fledged health profession, included within the Military Health Corps and being called Clinical Psychology.
But the function of clinical psychologist is not the only one performed by psychologists within Military Psychology, but the latter perform a Wide range of tasks in different fields (e.g. Educational Psychology, Organizational Psychology and Human Resources, as well as Psychology applied in military operations, among others).
Military psychologists, belonging to each and every one of the units of which they form part in the Spanish Army, belong to the Officers' Scale.
In the following we will make a brief review of the functions performed by military psychologists in the Armed Forces (FAS) in Spain. in the Armed Forces (FAS) in Spain.
What is Military Psychology?
Military Psychology is the field of psychology carried out by military psychologist officers. where they carry out research work, recruitment tests, educational support in training academies, prevention plans, psychological support and treatment in order to help military members of the FAS to better adapt to the position they hold, as well as to support members who are suffering from any type of mental health problem (for example, prolonged stress, post-traumatic stress disorder after having been in the line of fire or in its vicinity, etc.).
Next we will see in more detail the areas of intervention from this branch of Psychology.
Functions of military psychologists
These are the tasks performed by military psychologists in the different departments and units of the FAS.
1. Assessment of psychophysical aptitudes.
Applicants for army posts must pass a series of tests, among which are those of psychophysical aptitudes, composed of a series of tests to assess health and physical aptitudes, which would be evaluated by a military doctor. tests to evaluate the health and physical aptitudes, which would be evaluated by a Military Doctor..
There would also be the Psychiatric (P) evaluation tests, carried out by Army psychologists and psychiatrists.
The latter are intended to assess basic psychological skills such as memory, attention, verbal reasoning, spatial reasoning, etc.
They also evaluate the personality, emotional stability and if there is any psychopathology in the applicant; in which case, the applicant will be evaluated.In this case, it will be assessed whether the degree of severity could be an impediment to be able to perform with solvency the functions of the position to which he/she aspires and, therefore, would not pass to the next phase of the recruitment tests.
2. Psychological examination of personnel within the Armed Forces
Another function performed within Military Psychology are the psychological examinations. These examinations are performed on military personnel when a superior in command has detected that a soldier could be losing psychophysical faculties..
It is then when a report is issued to first examine the subject in a Recruiting Unit of a Defense Hospital in order to detect whether or not there is any psychophysical or psychopathological problem that may hinder their ability to perform their job in the Army.
In case of detecting a severe psychopathology, a second evaluation by the Psychiatric Medical Expert Board would be sought.
3. Evaluation and Diagnosis in Military Clinical Psychology
These tasks of Military Psychology within the Armed Forces were initially established for the purpose of selection and classification of the psychophysical aptitudes of soldiers, rather than for diagnostic purposes.
In the evaluation and diagnosis of Military Psychology the psychometric, trait or attribute model is mainly used..
The objectives of the psychologist in this section are as follows:
- To boost the performance of the different members of the FAS.
- To prepare the subjects for their assigned functions.
- To improve the satisfaction of the individuals with their work, so that they perform better.
- To help newly incorporated soldiers to adapt.
4. Psychological assistance in military units
There are many reasons why a member of the military personnel could ask for psychological help. The Military Psychology Center is intervening in the following areas taking into account the following aspects: reason for requesting help, degree of urgency and the nature of the assistance..
The conjunction of the factors mentioned above will determine the type of assistance and its duration (severity of the problem, whether there is more than one problem, the most appropriate psychotherapy model for the problem to be treated, the number of professionals to be involved, the need or not for an interdisciplinary approach if there is another comorbid pathology, etc.).
The objective of psychological assistance is that the military member can return as soon as possible and successfully to his or her position in the Army.The psychological treatment must be followed in an orderly manner and without forcing a hasty reincorporation, respecting the necessary pace for recovery.
5. Brief psychotherapy as support for soldiers
This type of psychotherapy is often used by military psychologists with the aim of treating as quickly as possible mental disorders that soldiers may develop as a consequence of some of the actions required by their profession, especially when they are in the field.The main objective of this therapy is to help the soldiers to understand the mental disorders that they may develop as a consequence of some actions required by their job, especially when they are in the area of operations of some mission.
The main objective of this therapy is to help the soldier to discover the causes of the mental health problem he is suffering from and to urgently put in place a plan of action to start a therapeutic process that goes straight to the epicenter of the root of the problem..
6. Preventing drug use in the Armed Forces
A very important task carried out by Military Psychology is the prevention plans with the aim of avoiding drug use by soldiers.
The main strategies of the strategies of the drug use prevention plan are are:
- To provide objective information about drugs to raise awareness about the harms derived from their consumption.
- Promote healthy leisure alternatives in the civilian environment.
- To train colleagues so that they can act as mediators in the prevention of drug use within the Unit.
- To provide rules and control strategies in order to reduce accessibility to drugs within the Armed Forces.
- Train soldiers to enhance social skills to effectively deal with situations related to consumption within the Army Units.
In cases where drug use by a member of the Unit is detected, a psychological intervention plan will be implemented through the use of a therapy modality focused on substance abuse disorders. and, subsequently, therapeutic support will be provided in order to maintain abstinence and thus prevent relapses; in addition to working with any possible dysphoric state triggered.
7. Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in SAFs
PTSD is a very common psychological disorder among soldiers and, even more so, among those who have participated in complicated missions abroad or in war conflicts.
In a study conducted by Futterman and Pumpian-Mindlin (1951), it was found that PTSD tended to occur in a higher percentage among non-combatant military personnel than among those in the combat area, due to the fact that non-combatants were more likely to suffer from PTSD than those in the combat area.This is due to the fact that the non-combatants were exposed to the traumatic events of the situation in which they found themselves and at the same time were unable to channel their emotions. The importance of the study of PTSD since the First World War is emphasized.
For this reason, Military Psychology has developed a plan for brief and immediate psychological treatment by the health personnel who are close to the line of fire. health care personnel who are close to the line of fire with the purpose that, the people who present reactions of acute combat stress, can recover as soon as possible and, if possible, prevent a future development of a PTSD.
8. Social benefits in the Armed Forces
In the 1980s, the Special Center of the Armed Forces Social Institute (CEISFAS), an occupational center of the Armed Forces, was created with the aim of providing help to people with intellectual disabilities.
Within this organization, several activities are developed within 3 main areas:
- Occupational workshops.
- Social support and psychological care.
- Labor insertion.
The main objective of CEISFAS is to help users who come to the center to achieve a greater development of skills that can facilitate their labor and social integration.
9. Military psychology in military training education
Military psychology has members in all the academies and training centers of the Spanish Army; moreover, a quarter of the psychologists who work in these centers are in charge of the training of military psychologists, a quarter of the psychologists in the Army are involved in military teaching..
The other psychologist officers who belong to the Army carry out reinforcement activities as tutors and teachers in other training activities in pedagogical subjects, as in the case of the Basic Course of Psychopedagogical Aptitude for officers and non-commissioned officers of the Military School of Educational Sciences.
The main objective of the psychologist officers who perform their duties in military educational institutions is to help students to pass their respective curricula and, with respect to military teachers, the psychologist's job is to assist them in the development of an educational model based on the promotion of competencies, the creation of active learning strategies and the improvement of their teaching skills. development of an educational model based on the promotion of competencies, the creation of active learning strategies and the improvement of their teaching skills, among others.among others.
Other objectives of the psychologist in this area are:
- Advisory work to the military educational center.
- Education in values within the military academies.
- Psychological support during the training of future military pilots.
- Military teaching work in the military naval school.
- Psychological work within a psychology office of a military educational center.
- Research and development work.
10. Psychosocial risks in military personnel.
This type of risk is one of the most one of the most important threats to health and safety in the work environment that people, including those in the Armed Forces, face (e.g., stressors related to interpersonal faced by individuals, including those in the Armed Forces (e.g., stressors related to interpersonal relationships in the work unit, organizational climate, etc.).
In this field of military psychology, psychologists carry out 5 types of intervention: personnel selection processes, organizational socialization, training plans, normative regulation and career development.
11. Other tasks performed by military psychologists officers
Other functions performed by military psychologists are listed below.
- Peace missions in countries involved in war.
- Leadership and training in command exercises.
- Negotiations in the Army.
- Social skills training.
- Psychological treatment in military penitentiaries.
- Psychological interventions in emergencies and catastrophes.
- Operational model of psychological combat potential.
- Psychological support for stress management in military operations.
- Psychological support in international missions of the Army.
- Practice of survival techniques as a hostage.
- Psychological preparation of personnel embarked on a warship.
- Treatment of psychological aspects in Terrorism.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)