How we integrate or make sense of our experiences have a lot to do with how they affect us. That’s just common sense. However, the drive within psychology towards a research and evidence based practice standards has led to a move away from seeking the consensus of practicing professionals in the field on the formation of theory. A theory informed practice has been the standard for many years. Experts construct a theory based on their professional knowledge, including research.
Image via Wikipedia It’s been standard practice in Cognitive-Behavioral therapy to teach clients that our thoughts trigger our emotions. Thus with training and practice a client can learn to change feelings by changing thoughts. While that may be generally true, what CBT specialists sometimes miss is that some feelings actually control our thinking, often in ways that are beyond our awareness. When we are young, before the age of about 8, much of what we learn, we learn in emotional memory.
I really enjoy reading the blog Kellevision.com. She says it like it is and seldom misses the point of what she’s writing about. She identifies a problem in programming for homelessness and proposes a set of concepts to help clarify the situation. Image via Wikipedia “Many of the “barriers” faced by the chronically homeless are not external. They are self-inflicted. Repeatedly failing to pay one’s utility bills is not a barrier.
Image via Wikipedia Recently, I exchanged messages with [Michele Rosenthal], author of the blog, [Parasites of the Mind]. She asked me a very good question, one that is so much a part of my everyday work, a good long contemplation was needed just to tease out a good answer. “Speaking of inspiring, how do you inspire a client to believe in what he/she is doing? It’s so difficult to believe in anything when PTSD has settled its big black cloud on your head.
Trauma recovery is a major part of what psychotherapists do. There is much made about the traumatic effects of major disasters like the Typhoon in Myanmar, the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, and the tragic events of 9⁄11. There have been many reports about the walking psychologically wounded from these events. There has been considerable effort to training emergency responders in “Psychological First Aid“. Does everyone who was traumatized need therapy?
Mental Health America has released a list of advice for holiday shoppers in view of the tradegies in Omaha. Reuters “Mental Health America developed tips to help individuals ease anxieties they may feel in the wake of this tragedy. Individuals looking for information and support can visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net or call Mental Health America at (800) 969-6642. Know that tragedies, like mall shootings, are rare. — Develop a personal safety plan to ensure your wellbeing in a similar situation.
CBS has followed up on a study last March that I wrote about here. CBS sought to fill the void for available statistics from the VA. The sad story is that suicide is a much more common outcome than most think for all kinds of trauma. Combine that with a culture that sees emotion as weakness, we have a set up for our young soldiers. Trauma survivors have a painful road before then can find recovery.
There is some good news from the Virginia Tech tragedy. The community of mental health providers pieced together a model crisis response program of trained volunteers to support, identify and refer to professional help people suffering from the trauma. Psychiatric News “To provide her local community with support after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, a mental health professional calls on a cadre of trained volunteers to address the mental health needs of those affected.
I think it’s probably a human trait that we seek the simplest solution to a problem even when more complex and proven methods are well known. Even scientists seem to do this, even in their area of study! Our culture seems to have decided thousands of years ago that negative emotions are bad and should be avoided. Everywhere in the psychological literature is examples of researchers seeking to find ways to help people avoid psychological pain.
Ever wondered why some people survive a major stress or trauma better than others? There really is no magic. People who in general have healthy lifestyles and attitudes survive trauma better than others. People who in particular have unhealthy attitudes about stress, themselves and life in general are much more likely to suffer stress related symptoms. Here are a list of ten traits of healthy POWs from the Vietnam War. This information is not just for soldiers, it’s for all of us.