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PTSD Symptoms and Treatment Options

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has increasingly become a modern societal health concern, though it has been known under different names for hundreds of years.

A Brief History of PTSD

Historical records suggest that people recognized various trauma symptoms following battle, such as nightmares, difficulty sleeping, or a rapid pulse. After the American Civil War, medical professionals attempted to create a diagnosis, which they called “soldier’s heart,” regarding the cardiac symptoms observed during panic attacks.

Sigmund Freud’s early career focused on studying “hysteria” in women, which he and his colleagues were able to connect to traumatic experiences.

The Industrial Revolution brought “railway spine” in reference to people who experienced railway accidents and suffered ongoing psychological symptoms.

World War I called it “shell shock” or “war neurosis,” and World War II called it “battle fatigue” or “combat stress reaction.”

For decades, traumatic stress responses were seen as a weakness or failing, an inability to face the hardships of life; but after years and years of research and advocacy, we know this to be untrue.

In 1980, the diagnosis “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” was developed in response to t...

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What is the Definition of Child Abuse? A Christian Counselor Explains

Most of us do not get out of childhood without a few scars. Abuse can come in many forms, at any age, and from multiple sources including family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. In the past 40 years, social norms and government rules regarding child abuse and neglect have become much less tolerant.

As compassionate, responsible people, we now have resources to turn to when confronted with the disturbing specter of abuse. So, when we believe we are witness to abuse or signs of it, it is important to understand how it is defined, what to look for, and what to do if you suspect it is going on.

What is the Definition of Child Abuse and Neglect?

As we begin to wrap our heads and hearts around a difficult subject, perhaps it makes sense to begin with the external, societal implications.

According to the Washington State office of the Attorney General, RCW 26-44-020, the definition of child abuse and neglect is injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child’s health, welfare, and safety are being harmed.

It goes on to say that abuse and neglect does not include physical discipline of a child, but there is a regulation which addresses that, as well, R...

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What is Trauma Informed Care and Who Would Benefit from it?

There are many individuals who have faced experiences in life that qualify as a “traumatic event.” Trauma can be described as a physiological and psychological wound. Trauma is a reaction to a perceived or real threat to one’s life or directly witnessing the death or serious harm toward another individual.

The process and exposure to trauma often feels like being knocked off your feet. It can take a while to get to the root of the trauma.

Awareness of one’s feelings, reactions, and recovery are essential to the process of interacting with others from a Trauma Informed Care approach.

What is Trauma Informed Care?

When seeking counseling to help with trauma, finding someone who understands how important it is to have empathy and compassion for the traumatic experiences is essential to healing.

Trauma Informed Care means that you will get to work with a counselor who is willing to meet you where you are and direct you through the trauma journey.

Trauma Informed Care is more than a goal to obtain. It is a lifestyle and way of thinking. Beginning with its foundation, trauma informed care embraces the view that there may be many experiences which have caused trauma in one’s life. Each experience with trauma leaves its own mark and disrupts your feeling...

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Depression and Anxiety: Unmet Expectations

Depression is one of the most solvable diagnoses in Mental Health. Primarily, it is driven by the thought disorder of having expectations that are far too high and unreasonable for yourself or others. However, it has genetic components that can be overwhelming also.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression can show itself as:

  • feeling lethargic
  • being irritable
  • having a lack of contact with self
  • simply existing
  • poor self-care
  • feelings of apathy
  • a constant nagging feeling
  • seeking comfort (through something like food or shopping)
  • becoming obsessive
  • being frequently moody
  • experiencing chronic sleepiness
  • having a lack of concentration
  • . . . and so many other symptoms. In young children, depression is usually manifested in the form of regular irritability.

Preferences Versus Expectations

To get a handle on what drives depression, we need to make our expectations conscious by writing them down and challenging them. Expectations come with a lot of weighted emotions that get in our way. (For example, if I expect a kiss goodbye when my wife is preoccupied, then I will probably dwell on the hurt and qu...

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Marriage 101: Advice from a Christian Marriage Counselor

Marriage, when it is not working, can be the loneliest place in the world. The covenant of marriage requires us to love, honor, trust and cherish. If we don't do that, then we have no foundation to stand on. Every argument we ever have is a trust issue. When we violate trust, to any degree, then we are telling our partner that our love is not important and they are not important.

You can love someone and not trust them, but when you trust, the love will always follow. In Christian marriage counseling, we work on trust. There is nothing we can do about love because it is an emotion.

The safety of hearing each other and validating each others perceptions does not require agreement. It is a true act of love. It gives us a place to work through the tough issues with empathy and respect. No secrets are needed when both parties are safe to hear each other and validate ("I understand," "I hear what you are saying," "What you're saying is...").

Men's Needs Versus Women's Needs

In general terms, men and women have different fundamental needs.

Women fundamentally take the temperature on the marriage based on how much they feel "cherished." Cherished means: "She is my best friend," "I don't know what I would do without her," "I'm so lucky to have her." When women don't f...

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What is the Difference Between Coaching and Counseling?

When I first started my career in counseling, I had never really heard of coaching as a career within mental health. I knew about it in terms of “executive business coaching” and even had read a book on this subject when I started working for American Century Investment Company. Well, I did not like dealing with money and I found that investing money wasn’t something I enjoyed.

I made a career switch and thought I was going to combine my talent for counseling with my HR degree and blaze a path in HR. I very quickly found out my idea was not going to work and thus another career change occurred.

In the end, I wished for some direction or mentorship to help me understand what I was doing or not doing. This is where coaching comes in for many people who have had this same or a similar struggle.

To be clear, I have never branded myself as a career or life coach, only as a mental health provider. But I like the fact that with training and understanding, this is something to add to my skill set in the future.

I like seeing the change in my clients as they find their new stride, passion, and healing. I think, as mental health providers, we can combine our talents into the best of both worlds and offer clients the ability to be coached and healed, and do it all from a C...

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Healing from Trauma for Christians

I have treated first responders, families, communities, groups, and people of all ages for nearly 20 years involving the outcomes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Anxiety. Trauma is one of the most challenging and rewarding types of mental health treatment there is.

To understand our brain and trauma, one must first look at the biological issue that stems back to our very beginning. For example, let's say you are a cave person and suddenly heard a loud running noise, saw the bushes being crushed, and then see a Saber-tooth tiger coming straight for you.

After you have figured out a way to save yourself, think of what has happened to your brain. Everything about that event is now stored in the Limpic system, right above your brainstem instead of  in the memory glands on the right and left bottom corners of your brain. The purpose is to allow your brain to access this information quickly in order to better survive the next time.

So now every time bushes move, loud, running-type noises are heard, and you see something coming directly toward you, your brain goes on high alert and "fight or flight" kicks in.

In addition, we are always assessing our environment for those things instead of living our lives. Without treatment, the information stays in the L...

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