How did I choose my topic of subject? (“To what extent is group psychotherapy effective in treating military personnel with PTSD”). Well, Psychology has been an interest of mine throughout my growing involvement in sporting activities. As I grew older I discovered that athletes performance is not all down to the physiology and from this stemmed my interest in how the mind can handle events under pressure. 

Events that sparked my interest in the military began when I was young and since then I developed a more extensive awareness of the underlying consequences that occur in warfare environments. This led me to want to research into the effect of this on the mind and (body)neurological system but also into if there is an effective treatment out there for our servicemen and women. So my advice to you would be; choose something you are passionately interested in, it might take some time to find this but once you have you’ll understand why. In order to complete my EPQ, I researched, I analysed but most importantly I learnt.  Through watching a variety of documentaries based around military life and veteran survival stories, I was inspired to drive my focus onto PTSD. However due to the extensive nature of PTSD, I worked with my supervisor and military contacts to narrow down my research ideas and find ways in which I could carry out my own exploration, via surveys and interviews. The next step was to design my project, create a time plan to track my progress and to produce a structured plan for the course of my ideas. See the picture attached for an example of my time plan. For the majority of the project I was able to keep to my project time plan and used this as a guideline to ensure work was done to reduce the build up of stress. For me planning ahead is something I also really benefited from, by keeping an EPQ diary of what I discovered and processes I went through during that particular day helped me to complete my log and this presentation with dated detail. Through this came the development of subheadings and a bibliography to store the analysis of my resources. Through Donna, a friend who works in the military, I was able to draft my own surveys and possess the opportunity to get them sent off to men and women suffering with PTSD in the military. For me the surveys brought a lot of my research to life and although the sample was small, the responses enhanced my appreciation of what these men and women have to go through in their everyday lives. I was then able to present these findings in relation to my research regarding the alterations of the neurological system, such as the change in emotions due to hormones, and other factors that influence PTSD in people.Another contact I was given, was Tony Gauvain who had co-founded a charity called “PTSD resolution”. From this I sourced a way of gaining my own information through an interview process. Approaching the end of my project I made a subheading priority list to help me cut down my word count as it was lengthy and therefore arising the problem that it wouldn't be concise enough. I also analysed both the surveys I had completed and had the interview with Tony transcribed. Through mentioning my EPQ with my English teacher, he also helped me to incorporate the use of war poets in my project, another form of a personnel account. 

Advice I would give to YOU? Set aside more time at the beginning of the EPQ journey, when there is less stress and fewer deadlines regarding the project, to complete a detailed plan. Make two plans, one for the main ideas of the project; this could include content ideas and any research that you feel is relevant, then the second plan should be ordering and grouping the ideas to make sure that the work flows and the information placed in each subheading links constructively onto the next subheading. Watch as many documentaries as you can, find short factual books that interest you regarding your topic and interview or talk to as many people as possible.

By Jessica Barber