Saturday, July 27, 2013

What is the Therapy Known as EMDR?

A new powerful type of psychotherapy has come into focus recently.  It benefits individuals suffering from many varying types of trauma.  These may include:  post-traumatic stress, anxiety, panic, troubling memories, and other emotional issues.

Unlike therapies of the past, EMDR does not take a lot of time, nor is it difficult.  It is fast and has benefits that last, giving the sufferer much needed respite from the emotionally draining traumas of the past.

Did you know that scientific data has proven that EMDR is the fastest way to heal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

But how does it work?

EMDR is new tool used by psychotherapists, and it has proven to be very successful. It uses right/left eye movement, otherwise known as bilateral stimulation or tactile stimulation.  This stimulates opposing sides of the brain, and experiences that were buried in the nervous system are freed.  Blocks in the relationship between the mind and body are dissolved, and are allowed to reconnect in a more loving peaceful way.  The point is to find and move energy that is creating a road block in the client’s life.  The therapist and the client become partners in order seek out and move the energy, thereby setting the client free so that they can travel back into their life carrying a sense of peace.  Thus, the eye movement patterns of EMDR help to alleviate and heal painful emotions and difficult memories creating greater harmony in a person’s life.

Many conditions such as these can be helped with EMDR:
  • Individuals who have witnessed or been a victim to a disaster (rape, accidents, earth quakes, fires, murder, gang related violence)
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Clients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Individuals who suffer from phobias
  • Substance abuse
  • Persons exposed to excess loss ( loss by death, divorce, loss of a house by fire)
  • Crime victims and police officers who were once overcome with violent memories.

·        Accident or burn victims

·        Low self esteem

·        Loss

·        Depression

·        Problems in relationships

If you or someone you love can benefit from EMDR, please contact us at: (310) 310-9249.  We can help!




Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Link Between Trauma and Substance Abuse

Did you know that substance abuse is often linked to emotional trauma? 
Since the 1970’s professional therapists have acknowledged that trauma is often the culprit in the development of substance abuse disorders. These traumas can include one or more of the following:  childhood neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse; it has been proven that these traumas are often the main factor in the development of substance abuse disorders.  Abuse is also often the culprit for anxiety disorders, depression and suicide.
Scientific studies have found that children who are consistently subjected to stress and trauma are wired differently than children who live and are raised in a safe secure environment. But how is trauma detrimental to the development of a child?  When stress or threat occurs, the individual’s body responds with a “fight or flight” reaction.  The powerful hormone cortisol is released, and although it is important and can be a protection device in emergencies, if chronic stress occurs, the levels become toxic and the cortisol damages and kill neurons that are present in crucial parts of the brain.  Hyperarousal, which causes an elevated heart rate, body temperature, and continuous angst, are continually present in the person’s life.  An internal reaction is that the child disassociates, shutting down, and detaching from emotions and feelings in order to adapt.  The younger the child, the more likely they are to suffer from posttraumatic stress. This takes place due to the fact that they are helpless to be able to fight or flee.  A state of helplessness becomes a learned response to life and the effects will reverberate throughout the child’s development unless treated.

Did you know that abuse of any kind in the general population is reported to be 8.4%?  In an alcoholic home the rate of reported abuse is 24% for men and 33% for women.  Sexual abuse in the general public is reported to be right around 6%; however, in an alcoholic home the percentage jumps to 12% for men and 49% for women.  The rates for emotional abuse in a home where substance abuse is prevalent compare to the sexual abuse cases, and the long-term repercussions can include depression, anxiety, suicide and problems adjusting in society.
Data collected through the Adverse Childhood Experience study, show that kids that encounter severe childhood stress, are 5 times more liable to become addicted than children who do not encounter these stressors.  Scientists have found that cumulative traumas are the most destructive, and the worst of these is constant ridicule.

Because of the traumas, an individual may suffer with feelings of helplessness and anxiety which can create a constant struggle with depression and impulsive or addictive behaviors.  These addictive behaviors are used to manage or numb the feelings of hopelessness and depression or unwelcome invasive memories.  Dampening the feelings of anger, guilt or other strong emotions as well as acquiring the sense of being in control or relaxed come about with the use of alcohol or drugs. 

Other substance abusers become the family pod because they accept and exhibit the same problematic patterns and behaviors.
People can go for years without having any or very little memory of traumatic experiences. It may not be until they are well into their 30’s, 40’s or 50’s before they realize that the coping mechanisms they have been using to deal with the traumas that they sustained are no longer working. Often it isn’t until disruptive patterns in their relationships and professional lives come forward that they begin to realize that problems exist.

It is imperative that treatment professionals recognize the frequency of trauma among people with addictions.  They must provide a multidisciplinary treatment that has proven effective.  Not all therapists have the skills needed to deal with the twin wounds of trauma and addiction.
If you or someone you love suffers from an addiction, please contact us today.  We can help.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Sometimes we experience a trauma so horrific that we feel we must acquire justice.  We fight the feelings of sadness, depression, the loss of innocence and trust that comes when others hurt us.  And although all of our feelings are valid and important to express and honor, forgiveness is the highest goal that we can aspire to achieve.
Holding vengeful feelings and grudges affects the mental and physical body in negative ways.  Therefore, it is important for each of us to learn to forgive.  This action is not done for the person for whom the grudge has been held but for the holder of that grudge.  Anger, hatred, and the loss of life force are expensive, and the damage done to our own lives comes with costly repairs.
Although it may seem impossible to forgive certain people in our lives, and vengeance seems the sweeter deal, the costs are most often prohibitive.  Think about the fact that it may take days, weeks, months or even years to acquire the just punishment for the crime done against you; however, you are the one who has been suffering all of that time with all of that hatred, anger, and rage inside of your body, dimming the light that you were born upon this earth to shine.  It is a proven fact that negative emotions take their toll when it comes to both physical and mental health.  So, instead of harming and punishing someone else, we end up penalizing ourselves.
Why is it so challenging to forgive?
Our society is trained in retaliation when we are hurt by others.  We may find it difficult to forgive because we have our own beliefs surrounding giving others a pardon.  We may feel that we cannot forgive a certain person because they will see it as weakness, or because they don’t take any responsibility, or because as children we were judged harshly, and now that is the way we judge others.  There are so many variations that make up the reluctance to forgive.
Lack of forgiveness in one’s life can lead to the constant brooding and preoccupation of “settling the score.”  This consumes the mind of the individual and keeps him or her from leading an authentic life, and keeps them from achieving their own beautiful dreams and goals.  Psychosomatic disorders can follow and may include:  skin diseases like eczema, or hyper or hypopigmentation, allergic rhinitis, migraines and even irritable bowel syndrome.
Keep in mind, forgiveness does not happen overnight and is a constant step by step process:
Try to keep a daily Gratitude Diary – we all have things to be grateful for in our lives.  This is a good way to begin the day by opening the heart and releasing all negative feelings from the body.  When we live as if our life is great, then great things can come to us. 
Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance at a specific time in your life.
Think about what occurred in the situation, your reaction, and how the mixture has impacted your health, life and sense of peace and well -being. 
Process through the anger and other negative feelings with a therapist; It is important to honor what you are feeling, but not allow it to consume your life.
When you are able to choose to do so, forgive the person who has hurt you.  This will allow you to move on, and release the role of victim.  You will no longer be allowing that person to control your life, and your thoughts will be free to create dreams and goals that you can fulfill.
As you let go of vengeful feelings and grudges you are no longer defined by your hurts.
Forgiving serves us especially when we consider the law of physics:  What we focus on in each moment becomes our reality.  Do you want to continually create a reality filled with rage, anger, and people seeking vengeance?  Remember, you must become what you seek to experience in life.
So no matter how deep the wound or scar, seek to forgive…it is your road to freedom.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Trauma of Rape

Did you know that rape is a crime considered to be one of the most emotionally and psychologically damaging to its victims?  The only crime that rates higher in total damage is homicide.  Every year tens of thousands of women and men are raped in America.  It is a savage crime that impairs the physical, mental and social health of its victims.  Not only is the attack often brutal, thus causing physical damage, but the fear of unwanted pregnancy, AIDS, venereal disease, and other infections lurks in the darkness.  However, none of these consequences hold a candle to the mental damage that is left behind after such an attack.

The psychological symptoms are called “the rape trauma syndrome.”

The Shock Phase

This is the first stage a rape victim will often go through.  It can last a few days to many weeks.  This phase is riddled with anxiety, distress, horror, terror, guilt, self- blame, and often self-hatred.  Trust in judgment is lost, as is trust in others.  Insomnia, depression, lack of interest in food, nightmares, petulance, headaches, stomach issues and other health related illnesses may manifest.  These can become chronic if the person who has been traumatized does not seek help.  

The Adjustment Phase

Part two of the rape trauma syndrome comes within a few days or weeks depending on the amount of emotional damage that was inflicted upon the victim.  Often during this phase the victim loses interest in looking for help, and no longer wants to discuss the event.  Some things that may occur:  change of job, phone number, reorganization of her or his life, less stress, and fewer nightmares.  At the six week mark, testing will need to be done for pregnancy and any sexually transmitted diseases.

The Integration Phase

The third and final phase causes the victim to retract from connection with other people.  Often a rape victim’s outlook on life has been permanently altered.  Sometimes during this phase, the depression returns.  A staggering 19% of rape victims will attempt suicide.  Others will manifest emotional or physical illnesses.

Rape in the Military

A crisis of military sexual assault has come to the attention of the Pentagon and the White House.  Approximately 26,000 servicemen and women reported unwanted sexual contact last year.  In 2012, more than 85,000 veterans were given treatment for injuries sustained from some form of sexual abuse.  Often the victims are plagued with post-traumatic stress disorder, physical ailments, depression and high levels of anxiety.  The Department of Veterans Affairs states that one in five women, and one in one hundred men suffer from military sexual trauma.  

The real tragedy is that most cases of sexual assault in the military go undocumented.  This is because, unlike the civilian world, the reports are submitted to the higher level commanders who have been known to brush these crimes under the rug, or even overturn convictions. Also, many times the victims and or their families are threatened with bodily injury and sometimes death by the perpetrators.

If you would like to know more about the little discussed topic of rape in the military, please join us for an important screening of, The Invisible War on June 4, 2013.  Go to the home page of this website to acquire your special invitation!



Saturday, May 25, 2013

What is Somatic Therapy

Somatic Therapy is a form of healing that integrates the emotional, spiritual, physical and mental facets of the individual.  It uses body awareness and the mindfulness of pinpointing different sensations within a person’s body to help facilitate healing.   Diverse techniques are used in somatic therapy such as touch, movement, sound and breath, to help an individual get in touch with their physical self. 

How does it work?

Worry, busy schedules, and concerns about events that happened in the past or might happen in the future are often “held” within the body.  A person’s body can become sore, rigid or tight, and the breath can become short and shallow because of these concealed emotions.  Becoming aware of places where stressors are held within the body helps a person become conscious of holding patterns.  When a person takes the time to get in touch with feelings and experiences that are happening in the moment, often other sensations begin to surface.  If an individual is uncomfortable with them, he or she might try to resist focusing on them and attempt to avoid them or alter the focus.  However, these feelings may be hidden memories held within the body.  These sensations may have a story to tell that could help the individual heal. 

Whenever a person experiences a traumatic event, the memories are held within the physical body as well as the mind.  These tight areas constrict the energies of the body, keeping them from moving freely and smoothly.  Upon examination, a person might discover that their whole life has been out of sync due to these concealed memories.     

Every person is guilty of being so busy with their daily lives that they do not feel what is going on in the present moment.  Becoming more aware allows a person the ability to have better judgment and make better choices.  It is also a way to help an individual uncover patterns that he or she may be repeating that are not necessarily in their best interest.  When a person feels these tight or contracted places within the body, it is important to stay with them.  What are they trying to say?  Exploring these concealed emotions and honoring what comes forward is the beginning of the healing process, even if it is only for a minute. 

A therapist is helpful in creating a supportive and caring environment while being very present in the moment during the discovery process.  The therapist cannot only help to navigate these new waters, but also gives much needed observations, support and feedback, and assists in validating the client’s experiences.  A nurturing environment is critical in order for a client to feel safe enough to move and explore these uncharted territories of the body.

Somatic therapy gives an individual the tools that he or she can use throughout their life and allows them to discover their true authentic self.  This in turn, allows the individual to live an authentic life.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Complex Trauma

Often trauma can be associated with emotional or physical injury or abuse; however, did you know that complex trauma occurs and impacts children all over the world every single day?

What is complex trauma?  It is a trauma that defines children’s exposure to more than one type of traumatic event.  Neglect or abuse generates instant and long term emotional injuries; however, other types of trauma make a huge impact on a child’s life as well.  The witnessing of domestic violence, parents who are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, war, the child welfare system or a combination of any of these can cause complex trauma.

 What are the negative effects of complex trauma?

The fundamental ability to feel comfortable in social situations, in close personal relationships and the ability for self-regulation can be irrevocably damaged in a child who has suffered from more than one type of trauma.  This in turn leads to more traumas and or addiction and other psychiatric problems.  Many of these children will be diagnosed with:  attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sleep disorders, defiant disorder (ODD), separation or reactive attachment disorders, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, or combinations of these afflictions.  Damage to the growth and development of the child is always present with complex trauma, and the most damaging circumstance involves the absence of a consistent nurturer and care giver.  When chaos is a constant, the child cannot use the energy needed for development and growth, but must use it to survive instead.  A secure and nurturing environment is important for the child to learn a sense of safety, the ability to regulate emotional and physical states, his or her capability for influencing his or her world, and for crucial communications.  All of these things become problematic for the child who suffers from complex trauma.  Fundamental stress capabilities are greatly reduced and the integration of left and right hemisphere brain function is impaired in such a way that a child does not have the ability to access rational thought in the face of overwhelming emotion.  The IQ, reasoning, intuitive and perceptive abilities of the child are damaged along with the ability to create healthy interpersonal relationships.   

 Rage, withdrawal, and or tremendous feelings of helplessness take over, and the stressors create deficits in the child’s ability to self- regulate and to be self-soothing.  Because of these difficulties, they may display dissociation, chronic numbing and avoidance of emotional experiences both good and bad, maladaptive coping strategies (alcoholism, sexual or drug abuse), depression, and other problems managing stress.  Many victimized children have been shown to cultivate aggressive behavior and oppositional defiant disorder.  Feelings, thoughts and physical perceptions become detached outside of consciousness, causing disassociation.  In other words, overwhelming stressors have created a defensive mechanism that cascades into repetitive problems for a child’s future.  In order to gain mastery and control, negative automatic behaviors such as alcoholism, drug dependence, aggression, the use of sex in order to create a sense of intimacy and many other maladies that have a negative impact on the individual’s life become the norm.

If someone you love is suffering from complex trauma, we can help!  Give us a call: (310) 310-9249. 

We will continue discussing the effects of trauma and the healing modalities that can help, throughout the coming months!  Join us!    



Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sexual Assaults in Military Raise Alarm in Washington


WASHINGTON — The problem of sexual assault in the military leapt to the forefront in Washington on Tuesday as the Pentagon released a survey estimating that 26,000 people in the armed forces were sexually assaulted last year, up from 19,000 in 2010, and an angry President Obama and Congress demanded action.

The study, based on a confidential survey sent to 108,000 active-duty service members, was released two days after the officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the Air Force was arrested and charged with sexual battery for grabbing a woman’s breasts and buttocks in an Arlington, Va., parking lot.

At a White House news conference, Mr. Obama expressed exasperation with the Pentagon’s attempts to bring sexual assault under control.  “The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this,” Mr. Obama said in answer to a question about the survey. “If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
The president said he had ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “to step up our game exponentially” to prevent sex crimes and said he wanted military victims of sexual assault to know that “I’ve got their backs.”

In a separate report made public on Tuesday, the military recorded 3,374 sexual assault reports last year, up from 3,192 in 2011, suggesting that many victims continue not to report the crimes for fear of retribution or a lack of justice under the department’s system for prosecution. The numbers come as the Pentagon prepares to integrate women formally into what had been all-male domains of combat, making the effective monitoring, policing and prosecuting of sexual misconduct all the more pressing.

Pentagon officials said nearly 26,000 active-duty men and women had responded to the sexual assault survey. Of those, 6.1 percent of women and 1.2 percent of men said they had experienced sexual assault in the past year, which the survey defined as everything from rape to “unwanted sexual touching” of genitalia, breasts, buttocks or inner thighs.

From those percentages, the Pentagon extrapolated that 12,100 of the 203,000 women on active duty and 13,900 of the 1.2 million men on active duty had experienced some form of sexual assault. In 2010, a similar Pentagon survey found that 4.4 percent of active-duty women and fewer than 0.9 percent of active-duty men had experienced sexual assault. Pentagon officials could not explain the jump in assaults of women, although they believed that more victims, both men and women, were making the choice to come forward. In the general population, about 0.2 percent of American women over age 12 were victims of sexual assault in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.

In response to the report, Mr. Hagel said at a news conference on Tuesday that the Pentagon was instituting a new plan that orders the service chiefs to incorporate sexual assault programs into their commands.
“What’s going on is just not acceptable,” Mr. Hagel said. “We will get control of this.”

The report quickly caught fire on Capitol Hill, where women on the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed outrage at two Air Force officers who suggested that they were making progress in ending the problem in their branch.

“If the man in charge for the Air Force in preventing sexual assaults is being alleged to have committed a sexual assault this weekend,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, “obviously there’s a failing in training and understanding of what sexual assault is, and how corrosive and damaging it is to good order and discipline.” Ms. Gillibrand, who nearly shouted as she addressed Michael B. Donley, the secretary of the Air Force, said that the continued pattern of sexual assault was “undermining the credibility of the greatest military force in the world.”

She and some other members of the committee are seeking to have all sex offenders in the military discharged from service, and she would like to replace the current system of adjudicating sexual assault by taking it outside the chain of command. She is particularly focused on decisions, including one made recently by an Air Force senior officer, to reverse guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases with little explanation.

Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who is also on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is holding up the nomination of that Air Force officer, Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms, to be vice commander of the Air Force’s Space Command. Ms. McCaskill said she wanted additional information about General Helms’s decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case last year.

Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, told the committee at the same hearing on Tuesday that he was “appalled” by the conduct and the arrest of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the Air Force officer accused of sexual battery on Sunday. The police say that Colonel Krusinski was drunk when he approached the woman in the parking lot and that the victim was ultimately able to fend him off and call 911.
Mr. Hagel called Mr. Donley on Monday evening to express his “outrage and disgust” over the matter, a Pentagon statement said.

Ms. McCaskill was particularly critical of Colonel Krusinski as well as the Air Force for placing him in charge of sexual assault prevention. “It is hard for me to believe that somebody could be accused of that behavior with a complete stranger and not have anything in his file,” she said.
While Mr. Hagel and others in the military seem open to changes to the system that allows cases to be overturned, they remained chilly to the idea of taking military justice out of the chain of command.

“It is my strong belief that the ultimate authority has to remain within the command structure,” Mr. Hagel said, which is almost certain to meet with objections as the issue continues to come under the scrutiny of the Armed Services Committee.

Under Mr. Hagel’s plan, the military would seek to quickly study and come up with ways to hold commanders more accountable for sexual assault. The chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the commandant of the Marines have until Nov. 1 to report their findings. Mr. Hagel also directed the services to visually inspect department workplaces, including the service academies, for potentially offensive or degrading materials, by July 1.

Sarah Wheaton contributed reporting.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What is Trauma?

Most people are familiar with the word trauma when it has to do with sudden painful serious physical experiences, but did you know that Trauma can be as devastating if it is created from an emotional experience?  Emotional trauma is a term used to explain events that are emotionally distressing, and that engulf people’s ability to cope, leaving them with a feeling of helplessness.  It comes from terrifying thoughts and distressing emotions.  Mental trauma can cause individuals to act in very fearful ways, create a sense of vulnerability and remoteness, sleeplessness, irritability, hostility, hyper awareness, or even flashbacks.

Many forms of trauma exist. Violence and physical assault are the most readily understood forms of physical and mental trauma; however, it is important to know that more subtle forms of trauma are as insidious and equally as devastating. Continued Discrimination, poverty and destitution, witnessing violence, or any continual or prolonged fear, anxiety or a chaotic lifestyle can be considered trauma as they are life altering and they have effects on the health and life situations of the individuals involved.

Scientific studies have found that children who are consistently subjected to stress and trauma are wired differently than children who live and are raised in a safe secure environment. But how is trauma detrimental to the development of a child?  When stress or threat occurs, the individual’s body responses with a “fight or flight” reaction.  The powerful hormone cortisol is released, and although it is important and can be a protection device in emergencies, if chronic stress occurs, the levels become toxic, and they damage and kill neurons that are present in crucial parts of the brain.  Hyperarousal, which causes an elevated heart rate, body temperature, and continuous angst, are continually present in the person’s life.  An internal reaction is that the child disassociates, shutting down, and detaching from emotions and feelings in order to adapt.  The younger the child, the more likely they are to suffer from posttraumatic stress. This takes place due to the fact that they are helpless to be able to fight or flee. A state of helplessness becomes a learned response to life and the effects will reverberate throughout the child’s development unless treated.

If you or someone you love suffers from trauma, give us a call: (310) 310-9249  We can help!  Join us in May as we continue to discuss the impact of trauma.            

 “Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life.”  — Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery