Categories
Mental Health PTSD Recovery

Treating PTSD in Children and Adolescents

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not just for adults:Blossom©saritzrogers

it also occurs in children and adolescents. Children and teens that witness violence and have post-traumatic stress symptoms require psychological care, but studies are suggesting that while children may experience the full range of post-traumatic stress symptoms, the manifestation of symptoms can differ from that of an adult.

 

The Journal of Pediatric Psychology says, “in the DSM-IV, eight criteria require verbal descriptions of experiences and emotional states. The lack of developmental modifications may result in an under-diagnosis of PTSD. “(Pynoos, Steinberg, & Goenjian, 1996). Scheeringa et al. (1995) Additional  “evidence suggests that children may experience disabling PSS (post-traumatic stress symptoms) that warrant treatment, but not meet criteria for PTSD (Carrion, Weems, Ray, & Reiss, 2002).

 

What has become crucial in defining this diagnosis for adolescents is the way in which clinicians understand how PTSD presents in youth. There is still a debate within the field of pediatric psychology about whether or not distinct youth criteria should be established — thus far, post-traumatic stress symptoms have been assessed primarily using criteria outlined for adults.  When assessing youth for PTSD, the adaptation for youth includes the “simplification of language and concepts.” However, there continues to be discussion amongst clinicians about the need for separate qualifiers for youth.

 

Symptoms of PTSD might include classic stress responses such as nightmares, fear and a general response to distress, but according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there may be some symptoms unique to children and adolescents like:

 

  • Reenactment of the event
  • Regressed behavior
  • Separation anxiety,
  • Specific forms of behavioral, academic, and somatic problems”

Did you know: Between 25 and 87% of youth report experiencing at least one traumatic event before age 20, with girls reporting more episodes (Elklit, 2002)

 

Noelle Rodriguez, Psy.D. and Visions Outpatient Psychological Assistant shared some of her experience working with teens who suffer from PTSD. She listed some of the manifestations she sees and how she helps treat them:

  • High levels of depression because PTSD is misdiagnosed
  • Inability to formulate trusting relationships
  • Drug use to attempt to access or regulate feelings

Noelle also finds teens with PTSD also present with some or all of the following:

  • Poor time management
  • A need to find a voice but feels silent inside
  • Loss of self, feeling fragmented
  • Somatic symptoms i.e., body pains, headaches, etc.
  • Disassociation
  • Sexual promiscuously–looking to feel connected
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of boundaries, which leads to more mistrust

Noelle takes her PTSD clients through a process of deep, insightful work that helps them strive toward shifting their paradigm to include:

  • Empowerment;
  • Sobriety (if applicable) on their own terms;
  • Replacing maladaptive behavior with healthy behaviors, for example:
  • Learning to ask for help, finding a support group, becoming able to  recognize and identify PTSD symptoms before they have a chance to fully manifest
  • Self-care
  • Learn how to identify danger vs. safety
  • Develop tools with which to to deal with blame, shame and doubt
  • Time management
  • Honesty in relationships
  • Finding their voice and learning how to speak up for themselves
  • Learning to get grounded when one is in emotional pain.

 

Peter A. Levine, Ph.D, originator and developer of Somatic Experiencing and the Director of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute has transformed the way in which I personally view PTSD.  He says in his book In an Unspoken Voice, “I hope to convey a deeper appreciation that their lives are not dominated by a ‘disorder’ but by an injury that can be transformed and healed.” Like Noelle, he talks about the need for someone working with PTSD to learn to self-regulate. Levine says this self-regulation “allows us to handle our own states of arousal and our difficult emotions,” and that it is what fosters the ability to “evoke a sense of being safely ‘at home’ within ourselves, at home where goodness resides.” Trauma work is a deep process. It involves learning how to hold ourselves with a sense of compassion while we look at the darkness that has swaddled our hearts.

 

So whether or not the DSM catches up, knowing that we have clinicians who are well versed in trauma work and who are willing to guide our youth to recovery is profound. Triggers eventually become tools we work with instead of against. And ultimately, with deep, consistent work, we develop the skills to change our relationship to our trauma and to heal.

Categories
Family Recovery

Visions’ Three-Day Family Intensive Program

Beginning in June of 2014, Visions will launch our Three-Day Family Intensive program. It is a small, intimate program, which will facilitate therapeutic and clinically supported opportunities to help parents view their current roles and reactions within their family systems. To heal, all pieces of the familial puzzle need to come together.

 

Terra Hollbrook, MSW, LCSW, CADC and her husband, Jeff Hollbrook, BRI-III, have been working closely with our clinical staff to review and expand our family program. Their experience ranges from personal to professional, and as a result, their contribution to the Family Program has added experiential depth and weight. Within the context of the Three-Day Family weekend, families, with the help of clinical staff, will address:

 

  • Dis-Ease;
  • Shame;
  • Trauma, and;
  • Powerlessness

 

The Three-Day Family Intensive will provide experiential learning meant to facilitate the recognition of similarities while adeptly addressing differences within the family dynamic. Visions’ Three-Day Family Intensive program will also provide the family with the experience of being the identified patient, a necessary tool when one is doing this kind of work. Understanding what it’s like to be in someone’s shoes can create a profound paradigm shift.

 

Day one is designed to be purely educational in which participants will gain a more salient understanding of their own powerlessness.

 

Day two will allow for a deeper divulgence into that powerlessness as families are broken up into small groups facilitated by clinicians guiding them through the emotional process of looking inward.  On days one and two, parents are without their teens.

 

On day three, families come back together so parents and teens can reconnect in a therapeutic and supportive environment. Families will do group work together, which will include sculpting a more therapeutic and functional family environment from that point forward. In addition, families will participate in group activities together. Finally, the weekend will culminate in a closing circle and a therapeutic process facilitated by a clinician where families are able to discharge from the emotional stimulation.

 

Family work takes time and dedication. There are no magical buttons that will make everything suddenly line up the way we want them to. However, with practice, and consistent work unpeeling the layers of internal stories and traumas, healing will happen. Families do find their way back together.

 

The heart is an amazing thing: it heals even when we believe it’s broken beyond compare. Our goal with the Three-Day Family Intensive Program is to teach families that they can heal and that they can create new, healthier root systems from here on out—that their hearts can, in fact, heal.

Categories
Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Trauma

Finding Resilience Within

jumping (Photo credit: Coubert)

What is resilience anyway?

To be resilient/to have resilience is to be able to quickly “bounce back” or “recover from” a traumatic/stressful experience. It’s the ability to self-regulate, self-soothe, and get grounded when times are tough.

How do you find your resilience?

Resilience develops when we learn to effectively self-regulate. When we develop the ability to recognize the interconnectivity between our minds and our bodies, noticing their effect on one another, we give our nervous system a chance to reset itself. As we gain resources, our resilience increases, allowing us to “bounce back” more readily than when we are dysregulated. Ultimately, your resources should come from within, because wherever you are, there you are. You can’t escape yourself (trust me, I’ve tried).

Tap into your resources:

  • Breathe – Breathing is our most magnificent resource. It’s portable and it’s always with us. Exhaling longer than your inhale can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, our internal ER.  Try this simple breathing exercise:

Sit in a quiet space where you can relax. Softly close your eyes and begin to notice your breath:

Inhale – one

Exhale – two

Inhale – three

Exhale — four

Do this until you get to 10. Repeat 3 times.

This is a simple mindfulness technique that invites calm. Your parasympathetic nervous system can jump in here, slowing the heart beat and cooling the breath.

  • Meditation and yoga: both of these are contemplative practices that invite you to get back in touch with your internal mechanisms. With practices like meditation and yoga, your internal resources have permission to flourish.

Do we all have it?

Stressful events happen…to all of us. How we recover from them and process them is contingent on our personal histories.  For example, if we are raised in an environment where we are silenced and unheard, then managing stress will be reminiscent of that: we may squash it, bury it, or set it aside. We will try to “deal with it.” In reality, we aren’t dealing with anything when we do that; in fact, we are denying it and allowing it to fester.  At the same time, if we are raised in an environment where communication is encouraged, and feelings are met with understanding, one’s resilience to stress will tend to be higher.

Is it easier for some to access resilience than it is for others?

I believe that most people can develop resilience if they have a support system in place and encouragement to work with their shadows and unpack their traumas. However, there needs to be an opportunity available to do this work, or the desire to seek help.  If one comes from an impoverished environment, their ability to resource would be limited. At the same time, someone with more options would be more likely to have access to resources, making resilience more easily attainable.  I often use myself as a reference when talking about overcoming adversity because I wasn’t provided with the best hand of cards. I definitely had a few jokers in there.  What I did have was a deep desire to change my circumstances. This gave my resilience a chance to develop and for that I am grateful. Being an at-risk teen didn’t provide me with a lot of outside resources.

 

At Visions, we have a remarkable staff of trauma-informed therapists to help families develop resilience. We are forward thinking in our approach to trauma, recognizing that each person requires an individualized process, and understanding the challenges people are faced with when doing this work. At the core, we are lighting the internal fire of hope and healing in our families, empowering each client to discover their ability work with their difficulties in more sustainable, healthy ways. Our nervous systems respond well to kindness and compassion, and with support, these actions can begin to come from ourselves. It means we have to muddle through the shame and grief that plagues us, and give ourselves permission to heal. Recovery is possible; resilience is possible; you are possible.

Categories
Mindfulness Recovery Self-Care Spirituality Trauma

Yoga Teacher Training: Transformation

First practicum EVER! #teachertraining #yoga via saritphoto

It’s been an incredible 9 days of yoga teacher training. I have been cracked open and infused with so many tools, love, support, an incredible community, a mountain of information; it’s not even close to being over! I am just beginning what I believe to be a lifelong process of learning. Sure, when I complete these 200 hours, this particular training will be over, but to me, yoga is something that is always evolving. The body is changing: as we age, as we get injured, heal, go through life changes, it changes, and there is always something to learn.

 

When I began this journey, I knew from an intellectual space that I would be learning about yoga: postures, how they should be aligned, how trauma presents in the body, how it releases, where the muscles and bones are, et cetera. I knew I was going to learn a lot from these teachers, and I knew that I was going to learn in a unique way. Hala Khouri is a Somatic Experiencing therapist, after all, and she brings that into the way she speaks and teaches. It has been illuminating. I also had a good feeling that there might even be some kind of transformation. I had no idea how much would actually occur.

 

My teachers are not conventional yoga teachers. They are uniquely themselves, exploring and teaching a non-dualistic path to a reality-based, grounded practice of yoga. They teach us about trauma so we are conscious about keeping our classes safe and grounded. They are teaching us about grounding, orienting and resourcing, terms familiar to me from my understanding of Somatic Experiencing and recovery work, but also applicable in a yoga class. Finding refuge in my body has happened for me on my yoga mat, but that has occurred because I have been fortunate to have teachers skilled in creating a sacred space for their students to have their own liberating experiences. In this yoga teacher training, we are being taught to do the same and that means we need to know how to ground, orient, and provide resourcing options for our students. It is in these ways that we can find refuge within and ultimately have a transformation, no matter how small it may be.

 

My recovery has never been one-dimensional. As I’ve tacked on more years, I have explored my spiritual paths, finding a calling to dig deeper into the layers of muck within myself that caused me to shrink back in layers of fear, shyness, insecurity, self-loathing, shame, lack of trust, or whatever rose to the surface. It is within the contemplative practices of yoga and meditation where I learned to dance with my fear and face my shadows. It was through those practices, the steps, therapy, and a lot of patience that I learned to shine particles of light into the darkest of places.  This yoga teacher training has lifted me up and supported every ounce of my practice, leading me through layers that still need excavating and continues to show me the way to play with my shadow side. I am finding my voice. Ironically, it is the one thing that eludes me. My voice as a writer is strong, but as a public speaker? Forget about it!

 

So, dear ones, This week rounds out module one. The transformation has been incredibly real. I am more grounded, more open, and more equanimous. I feel more connected to everyone and everything around me. And, more importantly, I feel the most “me” I have ever felt. Let’s dance!

Categories
Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Self-Care Trauma

Yoga: A Personal Journey of Investigation

Keri-Anne Telford (Photo credit: Sarit Photography)

Yoga and Buddhist meditation play an enormous part in my personal story. They are the practices that have allowed me find refuge in my body, courage in my heart, and the fearlessness to walk into the darkness that once plagued me and led me to self-harm, drink, fall apart, and detach. In truth, I find that learning to relate to ourselves better equips us in our ability to relate to others. Because isn’t the ultimate goal really to help others and to be of service?

 

Today, I begin the first module of my 200-hour yoga teacher training with Julian Walker and Hala Khouri—two individuals I hold in high regard. I had investigated this training (Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind) for 2 years previous and allowed my fear of the adventure and deep personal investigation to get in my way. This time feels different. This time, I was finally ready. I’m grateful for this opportunity and excited to see what will ultimately unfold. Working with trauma has really become the driving force behind my own practice and has become something I’ve found beneficial for the women I work with. Those who work with trauma are inspiring and I understand that if we can unravel the web of hurt and pain, we have an opportunity for real healing, knowing that it takes willingness to feel discomfort and to face the very things that plague us.

 

I didn’t just want “any” yoga teacher training, I wanted something that would foster my own healing around trauma, my need to be of service and my deep desire to help others change their relationships to their bodies and the traumas we all hold within our physical and emotional structures. This teacher training in particular blends the “ancient and modern, Buddhist and Yogic, anatomical and energetic, spiritual and psychological tools and information” to allow the practitioner/student to truly find their authentic voice in this vast world of spiritual practice, allowing themselves to truly find a space to heal and have a voice.

 

Check out Julian Walker’s style of yoga and his approach to training in his book, Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind: A Modern Yoga Philosophy Infused with Somatic Psychology & Neuroscience. It’s an interesting, inspiring, heart-opening read. I feel fortunate and deeply honored to be a part of this journey and excited to share whatever unfolds with the Visions community, because in many ways, you all are my heart and what also inspire me to be of service and do what I do. I’ll be journaling this adventure, so stay tuned!

 

“Compassion is not always nice. We can set boundaries, tell truths and express anger while still being compassionate.” Julian Walker

Interesting reads:

21st Century Yoga

Yoga PhD

Threads of Yoga

 

Categories
Mental Health Recovery Therapy Trauma Treatment

Boston Marathon: Emotional Care During Tragedy

Boston Marathon Finish Line.1910. Author: Unknown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are once again faced with the darkness of another tragedy: the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Events like this inevitably bring up our past traumas, leading to feelings of deep sadness, and often confronted by some of our unfettered grief. There is also a huge sense of confusion when we are faced with the unanswerable question of “Why?”

 

As parents, it is important to be transparent and honest with our kids in times like this. This does not mean sharing gruesome photographs of the event with them or feeding them gory details. Talking to our kids and allowing them to have a voice in a traumatic time is important. When the bombing at the Boston Marathon happened, we sat down with our son and talked to him about it. We wanted to make sure he heard it from us and not from the rumor mill of middle school, where hyperbole and fear mongering are the norm. He felt shock, confusion, and sadness. For parents, it was and continues to be our responsibility to honor the feelings of our kids and provide a safe container for them to express themselves. The world can be a scary place, especially with the effects of random acts of violence. Our son had many questions about what happened in Boston, many of which mirrored the questions of so many—kids and adults alike: “Am I safe?” “Why is there so much violence?” “Why would someone do that?” “Should I be worried?” “Will it happen here?” It’s important that his questions are answered and that he is allowed to process what he’s heard, lest we create another environment of trauma.

 

The tragedy those in Boston are confronted with never should have happened; but it did. It is real and it is heinous. Those directly affected by the devastation at the Boston Marathon will have deep trauma and grief to process and they will need support. When I see and hear of things this atrocious, I am reminded of a few things we can and should do in times like this:

  • lean into our circles of support,
  • be of service,
  • remember and honor those thrust into sudden loss and tragedy of senseless acts of violence.
  • Look at the positive: the people helping, the survivors, the community that reaches out to strangers.

 

In his book Trauma-Proofing Your Kids Dr. Peter Levine talks about the ways Somatic Experiencing is used in a crisis. Somatic Experiencing is focused on “symptom relief and in resolving the underlying ‘energy’ that feeds those symptoms.” (p.214)  Instead of asking kids to “tell the story” of what happened, they are asked to share their “post-event difficulties,” i.e., the physical or emotional fall-out they are experiencing after the event occurred. For example: fatigue, headaches, difficulty sleeping or eating, stomach aches, spaciness, emotional numbing, worry, guilt, et cetera.  The goal is not to re-traumatize the individual, but to help the process of self-regulation and emotional discharge.

 

Please make sure you are getting what you need if you are experiencing emotional difficulty since the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. If you find that you are having a hard time:

  • Take a break from the media.
  • Do some movement: jump rope, hike, do yoga, just move your body.
  • Be kind to yourself.

“Trauma can be prevented or transformed; it does not have to be a life sentence.”

Dr. Peter Levine

Categories
Mental Health Recovery Trauma

Trauma and Getting Triggered: Keeping Ourselves Safe

(Dark into Light via saritphoto)

I’m concerned for the survivors of sexual trauma and abuse, and the potentiality of getting triggered

simply by watching the news, or scrolling through Facebook or Twitter feeds. I’m wary of the media and the backlash from the recent Steubenville rape trial. It’s easy for that trauma to rise, presenting itself as fury and heightened emotions. It’s easy to slip back into the story of your own trauma, reliving moment-by-moment that which haunts you.

Signs of being triggered can include:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Flashbacks
  • Feeling emotionally numb or closed off
  • Avoiding certain areas, or subjects
  • Anxiety: tightness in the chest or throat, feelings of panic, et cetera.

Sometimes, we can feel tempted to continue to watch the news or read the feeds despite feeling triggered, believing we “should” be able to watch these things and be ok. It’s in the past, after all. Right? Wrong. The trouble with trauma is this: our bodies can’t always tell the difference between time and space. When we get triggered, we are often thrust back into that moment of trauma, sometimes too fast to stop ourselves. Over time, and with deep work, we can learn to recognize our bodies’ signals and responses to a trigger and take steps to stop it in its tracks or at least hold a safe space for it to just “be.” EMDR, DBT, CBT and TF-CBT are all useful therapeutic modalities for treating trauma. Additionally, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices are helpful in getting the “issues out of our tissues” as Tommy Rosen likes to say.

If you find that you are getting triggered from newsfeeds and current events, please:

  • Unplug
  • Step away from technology
  • Talk to someone and ask for help.
  • Surround yourself with safe people.
  • Take a lot of deep breaths.
  • If you practice yoga, this is a good time to get on your mat. A gentle practice of breath and movement can guide you back to the present moment.
  • Be of service. Helping others gets us out of ourselves and into action.

Yes, it can be tremendously debilitating when a trigger occurs, but you are not alone. There are people around you who will help you without judgment. You are safe now.

Categories
Recovery

Aleksandra Petrovic, LMSW — Trauma Specialist

Aleksandra Petrovic, LMSW, is a trauma specialist, coming to Visions via New York where she worked with underprivileged children and their families. Aleksandra’s work led her to a hospital outpatient program for dual-diagnosed adolescents, which used DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) as their primary modality of treatment. Continuing to help underprivileged youth, Aleksandra went on to work at a state-run adolescent recovery center with children ages 5-16 who had been shuffled through the foster care system until they could no longer be placed due to their behavior. Aleksandra earned her B.A at Columbia University, double majoring in psychology and French literature, with a minor in neuroscience. She went on to earn her masters degree in social work at Hunter’s School of Social Work in NYC.

Aleksandra has completed her training in EMDR at the EMDR Institute under its founder Francine Shapiro. She uses EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing) and TF-CBT (Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) regularly when working with clients and their trauma(s).

EMDR is a

“one-on-one form of psychotherapy that is designed to reduce trauma-related stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to improve overall mental health functioning. (via SAMSHA)

TF-CBT is a

“psychosocial treatment model designed to treat posttraumatic stress and related emotional and behavioral problems in children and adolescents. Initially developed to address the psychological trauma associated with child sexual abuse, the model has been adapted for use with children who have a wide array of traumatic experiences, including domestic violence, traumatic loss, and the often multiple psychological traumas experienced by children prior to foster care placement.” (via SAMHSA)

Aleksandra will use TF-CBT by having a client paint or write their story several times until there is a full range of emotions expressed. The repetition of reading and writing eventually desensitizes the severity of the impact of one’s memories. Aleksandra also uses Internal Family Systems (IFS) to help her clients safely access their trauma, helping them “go back” into the traumatic scene and “save” their younger selves. Processes such as these require a commitment to doing difficult work, but they are worth the efforts.   Deep trauma work employed in the modalities Aleksandra uses is extremely beneficial for treating trauma in adolescents and helping them process their trauma in a safe, therapeutic way.

Aleksandra uses the treatment modality most beneficial to her client’s needs whether it’s EMDR, TF-CBT, IFS, writing, movement, or art. Her approach and style are right in line with the Visions’ holistic, client-based approach to adolescent treatment. Her work with the kids at Visions is very individualized–Aleksandra first focuses on building a rapport with the kids, and creating a trusting, safe environment for them to express themselves. When she treats trauma, she assesses where the client is emotionally, whether their trauma was chronic or an isolated event, their awareness surrounding their trauma, if it is repressed or glaringly present, and whether or not there are any psychological issues like mood disorders, depression, or mania present resulting in a dual diagnosis.

Aleksandra has taken her own trauma recovery and transformed it into a path of being of service to adolescents struggling with their own deep traumas. She believes that treating trauma is a crucial step in working on one’s recovery from addiction, eating disorders and other mental health issues. Aleksandra recognizes the influence of major and minor traumas as often being the underlying cause of substance abuse and self-harming behaviors.  We are so fortunate to have such a compassionate, caring trauma specialist as part of our clinical team at Visions Our clients now have access to trauma treatment in both our residential and outpatient programs, as we recognize the deep impact unresolved trauma has on one’s recovery.

Categories
Depression Feelings Mental Health PTSD Recovery

Grief and Mental Health: Picking up the Pieces

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New trauma and despair is front and center in the US as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting unveiled the deaths of 20 children and 6 adults. The death of children is always shocking. The innocence and futures lost are rapidly exonerated from our grasp, leaving us breathless and frozen in grief. Families will begin to face the emptiness of their loss and the depth of their grief as the days continue. Additionally, the survivors, both children and adults, will potentially suffer from PTSD as a result of seeing and surviving such horrors. There will be deep sadness, depression, and self-doubt. There will be mental-health issues that need to be tended to, whether we like it or not.  Remember, grief is a staged process with no specific order or end date.

 

Mental health is once again in the headlines, screaming at us to pay attention and dive in to find a solution to a problem which is no longer able to sustain its place as the “elephant in the room.” The list of tragic and heinous events where someone possibly suffering from untreated mental health issues and acts out in egregious violence is getting longer and longer. We blame guns, we blame the parents, we blame the circumstances surrounding the events, but mental illness tends to be an afterthought or worse yet, an excuse. Parents who sit in denial of their child’s mental illness is a problem; poor circumstances and/or degenerative environments are a problem; and untreated mental illness is a problem. There are solutions to all of these problems, especially when we address them early on.

 

In the midst of our deep grief, it’s time to find a way to look at the causative factors that drives a human being to take the lives of innocent children. Our cultural denial and stigmatization of mental health is detrimental to the ultimate well being and healing of our society. In the 1980s, when the government closed several mental health facilities, placing many on the streets with their illnesses left untreated, we had a first glimpse of what mental health looks like when left out in the open: unaddressed and swept aside. This denial lends itself to putting our blinders on when it comes to the imbalances of our minds, pretending they’ll “work themselves out.” They usually don’t. The field of psychiatry has made great strides to discover and treat the varying mental illnesses that affect individuals, but the greatest barrier is typically the denial of the illness by families and the individuals themselves. We have to begin by asking for help. We must begin unraveling the stigma wrapped so tightly around mental illness and replacing it with treatment.

Some signs to watch for in your kids:

  • Often angry or worried
  • Feel grief for a long time after a death
  • Using alcohol or drugs
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Withdrawal from favorite activities
  • Harming self or others
  • Recklessness
  • Destroying property: yours or others

The only stigma left is the stigma of denial.

SAMSHA also lists the following as types of people and places that will make a referral to, or provide, diagnostic and treatment services.

  • Family doctors
  • Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
  • Religious leaders/counselors
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • University- or medical school-affiliated programs
  • State hospital outpatient clinics
  • Social service agencies
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Local medical and/or psychiatric societies
Visions is just a phone call away. We are here to help!
Committed to the Family; Committed to the Future: 866-889-3665.
Categories
Addiction Recovery

Service and Recovery With Heart

As I live-tweeted Intervention last night and watched the undoing of a young lady who’d experienced excessive trauma and abandonment, resulting in drug abuse, prostitution and suicidal ideation, it got me thinking. A lot. When someone is struggling with what seems like untenable, almost Sisyphean circumstances, how do you break the barrier so they can get help? My experience with sobriety and recovery from my own trauma has shown me the mind’s utterly powerful ability to protect itself. We build walls, compartmentalize, push people away by means of anger and aggression, we isolate, act like we can “handle it,” et cetera, yet when we’re alone, we tend to crumble: we get high, we cut, we starve ourselves, we overeat, we act out sexually. It never makes the pain go away.

Image via Wikipedia

Getting sober is the the doorway into healing and positive change. It’s an opportunity to look inward and make space for restoration to occur. As I watched this young lady on Intervention come undone, I watched her family react in anger and panic. This young mother reminded me of a scared, trapped animal backed into a corner. While I’m not a therapist, or even an interventionist for that matter, I am someone with over 17 years of recovery and some significant experience in dealing with trauma. Watching that show last night reminded me how much significance there is to bringing heart into what we do in sobriety as we approach the wounded. The inherent value of heart is immeasurable.
So many of us come into the rooms of recovery with those old, mental tapes playing “It’s all your fault” on a vicious loop. One of the the toughest things I’ve had to do is learn to re-record this tape. It’s possible, it just takes a lot of time and willingness to be uncomfortable. As the Buddhists say, everything is impermanent. Yes, even that lousy feeling in the pit of your stomach or the craving for drugs and alcohol. It passes. If we’re willing to allow it.