Therapy is hard work. It’s so much more that talking about your problems with the fantasy that at some point, they’re just going to go away! If you don’t have the skill set for recovery, for catching your breath, for resting the body that produces thought, you’re probably wise to stay on the surface and out of that body. But you won’t heal. That’s what twenty years and over a thousand clients have taught me. The path to your healing begins with the ability to find your ease. Relax. Continue Reading Relax! The Case for Taking It Easy as a Path to Mental Wellness
We are resourceful, creative creatures! And we can reclaim this holiday season for our own. We can defy the commercialism, the expectations of others, the din of the desperation surrounding us and instead use this time to heal, cultivating a deeper spiritual awareness, inner peace and joy. Continue Reading Ready for the Holidays?
As a therapist, I deal with individual torment, but as a country, as a society, we must also think of trauma as something socially induced and with cultural impact. Regardless of where one stands with gun control (and I doubt that Las Vegas’ tragedy changed not one NRA mind), this country is subtly changed by each new slaughter, becoming more inured, more tolerant… much as my individual clients survived by dissociating, by learning to live without safety, becoming hypervigilent and chronically anxious. By learning not to care. Continue Reading Where is the Humanity?
On the bright side, this really is a journey I’m on. I don’t know where it’s going, or how long (if ever) I’ll get to the other side, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone…but I am trying to learn things, like how to lean on others, how to notice also that which is beautiful and comforting, how to be in the moment, how to heal from whatever brought this about in the first place. This letter is meant to help you join me in this journey, in whatever way you see fit, with greater confidence…and maybe, a journey of your own.
Continue Reading Trauma 101: Helping Friends & Family Not To Put Their Foot In It
Trauma takes us away from our bodies, and turns us into their harshest judges. The path towards healing and away from this dissociation must therefore reunite us with our physical selves…Yoga, from the Sanskrit meaning “to join, unite, or attach,” invites us to enter our bodies gradually, allowing energy that has become stuck to begin flowing once more. It is even good preparation for entering a deeper meditative state, and the two together are profoundly therapeutic in becoming more mindful, and more present. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Stepping Gently Into Your Body With Yoga
Trauma deeply impacts our sense of personal territory. Do we have a right to territory? What does it take to keep myself safe within that territory? If I feel an alert, should I mention it, because I might hurt someone else’s feelings? Because for me, and in my experience, our boundaries physically mark the beginning of what constitutes “us,” they are not merely a concept, and in becoming more embodied, less dissociative, we are more able to feel physically when someone is crossing those boundaries and entering what we sense as our personal space. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Boundaries, Part 2
Boundaries. I love how the therapeutic community throws words like “boundaries” around, without a clear explanation. Before you read on, in fact, go ahead and test this (and for those of you who’ve had therapy, or at least read a multitude of self-help books, this should be especially fun). How would you describe boundaries? Are… Continue Reading Trauma 101: Boundaries, Part 1
It was an awful day. I was young, barely employed as a door-to-door salesperson for cable (and really, who can’t sell cable! me!!!), and had just gotten my umpteenth rejection. The world reeked of malaise and despair… then I looked up, at the most wonderful evening sky. The skies in New Mexico are special, of… Continue Reading Trauma 101: Resourcing…Finding the Lip of the Pool Before You Dive Deep
So the complaint of too much stress is a familiar one. You’ve read several times in my writings that a common definition of trauma is overwhelming stress. Before you nod your head in recognition, though, let’s stop for a few minutes and challenge that notion. What constitutes “too much stress?” This is what I’ve learned: the experience of stress is greatest when our stamina is low.
Sitting on a couch does not help. Trying to run the marathon at the start does not help. Workouts that build in intensity and build our stamina do, emotionally as well as physically. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Redeeming Stress
When clients come to me for trauma work, sooner or later they find themselves mourning the loss of safety. Before whatever horrible event happened that brought them in to see me, they had it. A sense of what it is to be safe, or at least safe-enough, that allowed them to get through the day without feeling the need for eyes in the backs of their heads, or that constant spidey-sense that clinicians call “hypervigilence.” It happens in a shocking instant; before that moment, they did not question that they would be able to get through life without major wounds, other than the usual rules of discretion and environmental awareness: don’t walk at night alone, don’t trust the guy who can’t look you in the eyes,etc . And why not? Most people, after all, do seem to get through. After that instance, the terrible “aha,” we understand now that safety is an illusion, that despite due diligence, shit does happen. Usually it’s a mundane moment, perhaps the one where they come out of shock, look around, and realize they are now seeing life with different eyes. In that moment, so much dies. Their faith, their hope, their confidence in themselves that goes along with the lingering and self-serving delusion, “surely I could have done things differently, then this would not have happened.” Self-serving, because none of us is that powerful. Continue Reading Trauma 101: What You Need to Know On Your Journey