The Impact of Trauma on Future Generations

Could trauma’s impact be passed along genetically from one generation to the next? For years, Rachel Yehuda, PhD has been studying the biological impact of trauma on Holocaust survivors and their children. We discussed some of her earlier findings here. At that time, researchers were in the early stages of investigating epigenetic change – the possibility that changes in gene expression, specifically those related to trauma, could be passed along to future generations. In a groundbreaking study published in September, 2016 in Biological Psychiatry, Yehuda and her colleagues looked into whether trauma-related changes in gene expression could be passed along…

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How Anger Affects the Brain and Body [Infographic]

Anger can be one of the most challenging emotions that we work with. Clients are sometimes afraid of their anger. Or, maybe they consider it inappropriate to even feel this way at all. Not only that, when anger is misdirected, it often leads to poor choices, damaged relationships, and even violence. But anger can actually be an asset to our clients . . . as long as it’s channeled properly. So how can we help clients express their anger more effectively? It begins by helping them understand how anger is triggered, and what happens in the body and brain –…

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Could Stronger Resilience Promote Better Health?

Could greater resilience reduce a person’s need for health care services? James E. Stahl, MD, MPH, and a team of researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital Benson-Henry Institute (BHI), noted that poor psychological and physical resilience is often associated with an increased use of healthcare services. Since research consistently shows that mind-body interventions can be effective in reducing stress and increasing resilience, Stahl and his team wanted to see if a resilience training program could reduce the demand for health care services. To do this, they created a retrospective, controlled pre/post intervention database analysis of patients who received care at…

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How to Help Clients Process Their Fears about World Events

When you look at the news, there’s pain and violence on every broadcast. But is this something we should help our clients process? Patrick Dougherty would say yes. And he has some clear, helpful guidelines for how to bring up difficult and divisive political and social issues in therapy. It’s one way we can help clients become more regulated and healthy as they interact and engage in their sphere of influence. Patrick Dougherty, MA, LP, is a licensed psychologist, teacher, and author. He’s worked with collective trauma since shortly after serving with the Marines in Vietnam and working in Northern…

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Polyvagal Theory in Action – How Heart Rate Figures Into Trauma Treatments

How can the body become a resource for a patient who’s experienced trauma? Polyvagal Theory helps us answer this question by explaining how people process their environment and how the body regulates itself in the face of stress and trauma. Watch the video below as Stephen Porges, PhD shares one way to apply Polyvagal Theory when working with the body’s responses to traumatic triggers and stressful events. How could you use Polyvagal Theory in your work with patients? Please leave a comment below.


Can Mindfulness Change the Anxious Brain?

What helps with anxiety? Anxiety disorders represent the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans. These can range from PTSD to common phobias, and they wreak havoc in a person’s day-to-day life. A team of researchers led by David Creswell, PhD at Carnegie Mellon University recently wanted to find out what impact mindfulness practice could have on the anxious brain. To design their study, Creswell and his team recruited participants from a population that’s under a lot of stress – job seekers. Now we know that when stress goes untreated, it can become chronic and contribute to anxiety and depression….

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