"My father was a POW in Germany in the Battle of the Bulge. So, I grew up on PTSD. I think that it was kind of my calling to go to Germany," he said.
Whatever the war, some traits of wartime trauma are universal, he said.
"Hypervigilance. Anger, rage, difficulty concentrating. One of the things you don't do with somebody that has PTSD is come up behind them and touch them. Or try to make too much of a rational conversation with them when they're in a rage. Just be there with them and support them as long as they're not hurting someone or hurting themselves. Just be present with them."
Vincent has always brought into his counseling elements of different disciplines and life experiences, from the Theravada Buddhist meditation he has practiced to the core training he received when younger at the Gestalt Institute in Cleveland.
"I'm a firm believer in the unconscious and helping people become aware of the patterns -- the maladaptive patterns -- they've learned, and to become aware of those through some of these mindfulness techniques."
Three years of counseling on the Army base was enough though he continued working with soldiers at the Veterans Administration here, he said. "I really had had enough military experience. I have two grandkids and I was ready to come home and spend some time with them."
He now keeps up a part-time practice, renting space at Covenant House with two other full-time clinical social workers. "I'm not advertising, per se. It's kind of word of mouth. At this time in my life, I still enjoy doing therapy. I just don't do it 40 hours a week."
Nowadays, his counseling focuses on adults, and occasionally couples, who share a particular trait.
"Adults interested in making changes in their lives," said Vincent. "I've been around so long, I've experienced many, many situations. I feel I can adapt my particular style, if someone is interested and motivated in making some changes."
Even if they're not, he added, "it's our job as therapists to help motivate them to become more aware of their behavior, thoughts and emotions. That's our job."
He offers some basic advice for coping with depressive states and maintaining emotional wellness.
"Do something. Whether it's walking, yoga -- everybody can do something. Even if you're in a wheelchair, you can do tai chi. Or go to Buddhist meditation classes.
"People with depression, if they would just simply get out -- I believe this -- at least 50 percent of the people would notice significant improvement if they walked four or five days a week for a mile or two and increased it gradually."
Reacquainting yourself with your body can be crucial to settling down the mind, he said. "I don't think there's hardly anyone who comes to see me who isn't introduced to some kind of breathing technique."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.