trauma Articles

Increasing The Effectiveness Of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy

In this article, we will discuss the effects of trauma and the benefits of trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy.

The Trouble with Trauma

Experiencing traumatic events can be overwhelming and disrupt a person’s ability to function. Serious cases can produce Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, including:

  • Haunting memories with accompanying emotional upheavals as if the traumatic event was being experienced again
  • Overwhelming frustration in the form of feeling threatened, with a heightened sense of vigilance
  • An urge to fight or run away from the traumatic memory
  • Irrational thinking patterns and beliefs about yourself, others, and the world

The traumatic event can be the experience of surviving a serious car accident, a terrorist attack, domestic, physical, or sexual violence, or it could be the experience of life-threatening situations such as wars or natural disasters, or other horrendous events. Survivors may have feelings of shock, fear, false guilt, shame, anger, or vulnerability. The effects of these experiences can last for decades, especially in cases of traumatic events during childhood.

The Two Major Techniques of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive...

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A Christian Counselor on Overcoming Childhood Trauma as an Adult

A couple of times over the years, I have seen scenes in movies where a mob boss slaps an underling and says something like, “Stop bleeding. It’s stupid.” As silly as this sounds, this is often the way we treat our younger emotional parts when they intrude on the present and make us feel vulnerable, usually bringing anxiety and anger along with them.

When we feel weak or injured, it is easy to turn on ourselves with angry parental voices, telling us to get over it, grow up, or toughen up. Ironically, from our position as adults, it is not toughening up that makes us resilient, but kindness and curiosity. As we are able to welcome and integrate our damaged younger parts, the hurtful words and events of past and present are less able to cause more damage, mean comments roll more easily off our backs, and failures feel less like catastrophes.

A Word About Faith

Faith in a loving God is a beautiful thing, and can have a profound impact on our emotional healing. Strong or not, faith is our first step in our plan of action. We are not alone in this journey. Unfortunately, there are many things that can get in the way. We may imagine an angry God shaking a father’s finger at us, or a distant God who doesn’t really understand our pain, or we may even feel we don...

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Fear and the Overstated 7 Stages of Grief: Taking the Griever Off the Clock

Endings and Leavings | Part 8 of a 9-part series on the deeper Self that awakens in laboring through grief, living through loss, and embracing endings as the seedbed of new beginnings.

 

Do not go gentle into that good night … rage, rage against the dying of the light. (poet Dylan Thomas)

My wife’s voice, shrouded by muffled sobs, was barely audible on the phone. She did not want our daughter to overhear the shocking news. Not yet.

The staff at Chloe’s school had called just a minute ago: her kindergarten teacher had died suddenly in his home. (From complications related to a seizure, we later learned.)

Chloe’s beloved teacher, Mr. Heaton? Dead? The words rolled like a mudslide down the mind, gathering speed and refusing to stick.

And this was my adult mind. How would our 6-year-old brave her world upending, just as it was beginning? This kid who’d found a hero during her transition to a new city, new house, new school.

The next day, we knew, Chloe would enter that classroom and fall headlong into a void. Mr. Heaton’s energy and his teddy-bear presence would show up in the abyss of his absence. From this, we could not protect her. Except to maybe so...

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Complicated Grief, Trauma, and Fear of Breakdown: How Dissociation Dulls the Growing Edge of Grief

Endings and Leavings | Part 6 of an 8-part series on the deeper Self that awakens in laboring through grief, living through loss, and embracing endings as the seedbed of new beginnings.

“Fear of breakdown is the fear of a breakdown that has already [happened].” (Donald Winnicott)

Our fear of endings can be traced to our very beginnings.

Birth itself is already a traumatic ending – leaving the warmth and severed security of the womb.

The skilled midwife who so artfully handles this break, who weaves together endings and beginnings, has been mostly replaced by a hyper-modernized, medical model of birth. Hospitals manage a fear-based “delivery” business that interrupts the natural mother-infant bonding experience, and teaches the mother to distrust her own mind and body.

So, from the get-go, we are not allowed to “end well.” And our beginnings are harshly lit and highly sterilized.

The modern world we are thrust into demands that we “dissociate,” that we evade our present emotional experience instead of using it to discover ourselves and connect with others.

Bonding and Breakdowns

Donald Winnicott, the late British pediatrician and influ...

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How Grief Counseling Re-members and Retells the Story

The Art and Artifacts of Grieving
Endings and Leavings | Part 5 of an 8-part series on the deeper Self that awakens in laboring through grief, living through loss, and embracing endings as the seedbed of new beginnings

Grieving is not simply a process to follow or a season to passively endure. It is not something that merely happens to you. Grieving is a creative act that eventually inspires change and renewal, as we work to heal the traumatic endings of our past. To grieve is to create.

Embodying Memory

In grief counseling, rituals and artifacts help us to embody the unresolved endings that we tend to float above or fearfully shut down. To “embody” an ending means to experience it viscerally and somatically – being present to what the heart, mind, and body are sensing in their sorrowing and celebrating.  To embody an ending is also to embody memory. At some level, our present endings reverberate with painful or traumatic losses from our past that we are still “reliving,” often without realizing it.

Trauma and Grief: Reliving Versus Re-membering

Reliving is not the same as healthy remembering. And remembering is not a pointless exercise in dredging up or ruminating about a...

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How We Sabotage the Grief Process: the Call to Grieve, Celebrate and Ritualize Endings

Endings and Leavings | Part 4 of an 8-part series on the deeper Self that awakens in laboring through grief, living through loss, and embracing endings as the seedbed of new beginnings

Psychologist and author Sheldon Cashdan notes that, as adults, we unconsciously attempt to manage and hold onto relationships in ways that “reverse the bad endings” of early childhood.

However, our reversal efforts usually resist the deeper grief process. We cannot see or trust that endings come bearing gifts.

As adults, we carry with us younger “ego selves” that are stuck in old narrative loop tapes. These tapes are full of faulty, outdated messages about ourselves, the world, and the meaning of loss. Our younger self-parts work over-time to protect us from the anxiety, rejection, shame or emotional trauma associated with endings – but often they “act out” in ways that may actually re-enact our painful past.

In effect, we sabotage endings.

Sabotage: Strategic Control

What does sabotage look like? Ambivalence and indifference. Avoiding and procrastinating. Perfecting and performing. Pleasing or blaming others. Indulging our weaker self, or denying the deeper Self.

Sabotage is the college athlete or the m...

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Coping With Grief and ‘Coming Home’: Bearing Loss, Beautifying Scars

Endings and Leavings | Part 3 of a 8-part series on the deeper Self that awakens in laboring through grief, living through loss, and embracing endings as the seedbed of new beginnings.

All good stories come to an end. What makes the story “good,” however, is not the saccharine, happily-ever-after ending.

The Disney ending is different than the “denouement” of a truly good ending. This old French word denouement, literally untying or “loosening,” is how Christian author and psychologist Dan Allender describes the final part in a narrative arc.

Allender says the stories of our lives tend to unfold in a four-part progression:

1) Shalom – the experience of peace and basic trust with which we all begin.

2) Shalom Shattered – tragedy enters our story; innocence is stolen.

3) Shalom Sought – searching and longing for “home,” only to find the path blocked and the journey detouring into deeper, more disorient...

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