Polyvagal Theory and How Trauma Impacts the Body

Can trauma haunt the body the same way it haunts memories? According to Stephen Porges, PhD, not only does the body remember a traumatic experience, but it can actually get stuck in the trauma response mode. So even when the threat is gone, the body still perceives danger and its defenses stay engaged. Why does this happen and how can we help patients with it? Stephen shares some background on polyvagal theory, and gives his own personal experience to illustrate how this works. Check it out, it’s just 4 minutes. How have you worked with patients who felt immobilized by…

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How to Work with Trauma without Triggering Fear

We know plenty of strategies for engaging our trauma patients. But do we know what to avoid? How to help patients heal is not always clear. And trauma patients, given all their diverse history and symptoms, can be some of the most challenging. So it almost goes without saying that, when working with clients who have experienced trauma, there are extra precautions practitioners need to consider. Let’s take eye contact for instance. While many of us would say eye contact is essential, Stephen Porges, PhD has written about the importance of averting eye gaze when working with trauma patients. Direct…

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How to Use the Wisdom of the Body to Heal PTSD and Trauma – with Pat Ogden, PhD

You may have heard that if you put on a happy face, you’ll actually start to feel better. But did you know that the physical patterns of our body not only reflect how we’re feeling inside but can actually cause those feelings? When it comes to working with trauma patients, noticing patterns and changes in body language gives us greater insight into what patients are experiencing. We can also use these observations to develop healthy body exercises that patients can use to help manage their symptoms. Pat Ogden, PhD, is the founder and director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, which…

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How to Become Who You Want to Be – with Tara Brach, PhD

“I’m not as good as I should be.” It’s a common refrain from many of our patients. Helping them trade self-judgment for self-compassion is an essential first step in creating real change. Watch below as Tara Brach, PhD, talks about what needs to be in place before we can become truly free and open to changing ourselves. Breaking out of a long-held cycle of self-judgment can be difficult – but it isn’t impossible. How has compassion played a role either in your own life or in your work with patients? Please share a comment with us below.

Self-Compassion: The Secret to Reducing PTSD Symptoms?

One thing that can frequently increase the suffering of many patients with PTSD is shame. Even worse, shame can limit a patient’s treatment – even if they objectively know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. But is there a way to trade self-judgment for self-compassion? And would that reduce a client’s symptoms? Asle Hoffart, PhD, adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, wanted to study how self-compassion impacted symptoms of PTSD. Hoffart measured self-compassion with his six-part Self-Compassion Scale. First, he designated three components that made up self compassion: self-kindness (being kind to oneself even during hard…

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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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