Fear and Shame: Loosening Trauma’s Grip

Often a trauma patient’s body seems to tell them, “There’s something wrong with me. Everything is my fault. I’m so ashamed.” It’s challenging, helping patients learn how to quiet the messages their bodies are sending them so they can self-regulate and heal. And for some clients, just hearing the word body can activate a fear response. So is there a way we can help patients begin to make peace with their bodies when they feel so vulnerable? According to Pat Ogden, PhD, it begins by helping them experience the body as a resource to aid their healing. Pat illustrates one…

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Helping Trauma Survivors Shed Feelings of Shame

For trauma survivors, one of the most insidious roadblocks to healing is often the debilitating feeling of shame that can linger after a traumatic experience. So how can practitioners help clients begin to reclaim a sense of self-worth? Kerstin Jung, PhD and Regina Steil, PsyD, at Goethe University Frankfurt, in Frankfurt, Germany, wanted to find out whether Cognitive Restructuring and Imagery Modification (CRIM) could empower adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to move beyond feelings of shame associated with trauma. CRIM is designed to help patients do two things: change the way they see themselves (Cognitive Restructuring), and change the…

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Resistance to PTSD: Could It Be in Your DNA?

Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD. So what might be boosting the resilience of the folks who experience trauma and don’t suffer from PTSD? According to Israel Liberzon, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, genetic factors might play a role. When combined with trauma in early childhood, a tiny DNA change (or a mutation), called a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), in a gene called ADRB2 could help predict whether or not a person will be more resilient (or more susceptible) to PTSD later in life. Inside of our cells, ADRB2 plays a role in how adrenaline affects our…

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Three Ways Trauma Can Change the Brain

The treatment of trauma can be some of the most complex work practitioners face. And for years, this challenge was complicated by not having a clear picture of the impact that trauma has on the brain. But scientific advances within just the past few years have opened the eyes of practitioners to what actually happens in the brain of someone who has experienced trauma. And according to Bessel van der Kolk, MD, there are three major ways that the brain changes in response to trauma. To find out what they are (and their impact on the body), take a look…

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PTSD, the Hippocampus, and the Amygdala – How Trauma Changes the Brain

Emotional neurocircuitry . . . . . . it’s how the brain is wired for emotions. But in the brain of a person with PTSD, emotional distress could physically (and perhaps even visibly) change the neurocircuitry. In a normal brain, the interaction between the hippocampus and the amygdala is important for processing emotional memory. It’s suspected that they both change in response to experience as well. But when someone experiences trauma, do these parts of the brain change together, or are they completely independent of one another? In a recent study led by Quan Zhang, MD at China’s Tianjin Medical…

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Neurofeedback Training for Trauma Treatment

Yesterday in the Rethinking Trauma webinar series, I had a conversation with Sebern Fisher, MA. Sebern is an expert in the use of neurofeedback and has seen tremendous success in implementing this revolutionary technology with patients. Some of the questions that have come up repeatedly are, “How do I get trained on using neurofeedback with patients? What equipment do I need?” Because I’m a bit of a techno-phobe myself, I asked Sebern about the training that’s involved and the kind of equipment she uses. And, since so many have asked, I wanted to share what she had to say –…

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