What is PTSD?

PTSD is the acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and refers to a cluster of symptoms that result from a past trauma. But what’s a trauma?. Trauma refers to a psychological or emotional imprint that occurs when an event or series events threatens our sense of safety or well-being to the extent that our minds react to protect us from any further exposure. In order to protect ourselves until we are either healthy enough or supported well enough to address issues from the past, sometimes, our experience or memory of a traumatizing event can be compartmentalized or stored away. PTSD can be diagnosed as soon as 30 days after an event or as long as 30 years or more after an event. The good news is that the healing process can begin at any...

EMDR Therapy and Trauma

Trauma survivors often complain of recurring nightmares, sudden tearfulness, flashbacks, aversions to places or people and even somatic/physical discomforts. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), is a technology created about 20 years ago by Francine Shapiro, PhD. EMDR involves systematically bringing highly charged images/experiences to the conscious self without hypnosis where they can be rationally dealt with and resolved into normal memory. This process is rapid and is noted in psychology journals as the most effective treatment available for...

A Soldier’s Unseen Wounds

A gun, a tank, a rocket launcher all make sense if you are a member of any of our armed services on a tour in the Middle East. They are necessary for the tasks that these men and women have been trained and, for better or worse, fit into the context of war. Just as a rifle is a tool with a specific design; the sight to hone in on a target, materials that resist wear and damage, a magazine to hold rounds to defend or attack, a trigger to engage the sole purpose of the tool. So too, can a mind be conditioned to serve a specific purpose to suite an environment and a context that can be imagined, practiced and realized in mission after mission. The difference is that the rifle is not expected to change purpose at the end of a tour. Whether in ‘that’ environment or another it maintains it’s function and form. We expect our servicemen and women to suddenly, and with little preparation or explanation to change context, change purpose, dial back intensity, leave the thousands of hours of training in the camps. If you are one of them. It may be one of most difficult experiences you have ever had, or will have. Feelings of detachment and isolation even when around familiar people, not feeling purposeful or needed, having a loss of direction and confusion about the future. These are all common to the returning soldier. Aside from the personal effects, behavioral issues compound the problem. Poor sleep patterns, rapid mood changes, aggression and irritability, depression and even panic attacks can all...

Anxiety Snapshot

One of my many reasons for working with individuals with Anxiety, Panic Attacks and PTSD is that they all carry a very good prognosis. Meaning that, when treated properly, we can expect positive results and we can expect them to last. When I hear of someone or meet someone who has suffered from long-term generalized anxiety or Panic Attacks I feel a sense of urgency to make changes early on. There is simply no reason why a person should suffer with either of these debilitating clusters of symptoms. Anxiety and Panic are expressions of a problem at a deeper level. Much like pain in the body, anxiety is a signal that something needs to change. Part of the work is discovering what change needs to occur, part of the work is finding behaviors to manage, reduce or eliminate the attacks/anxiety and part of the work is trusting the change that occurs over the long run. That being said, treatment approaches can involve emotional, behavioral, environmental, familial and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. While the work to minimize the suffering is primary, the secondary changes that occur in this exploration enrich every aspect a persons’ life. I work with individuals with problems with anxiety, PTSD, trauma as well as with couples and...

Decisions, Decisions… How to Stop Fearing and Start Deciding

The last time I checked the DSM-IV (and I try not to check it too often), the treatment of Decidophobia, the fear of making decisions, included everything from “cognitive re-mapping” to anti-depressants. Pretty serious stuff for a common problem. But, if it’s so common, what’s the fuss all about? That is the real damage to indecision? Often, people who fear making decisions tend to vacillate and procrastinate in an effort to avoid the choices they must make. When the fear of making decisions begins to harm the psyche and affect daily life, it can become a serious problem. Even on a lesser level, individuals who vacillate , are ambiguous or procrastinate can hurt others and their relationships with this indecision. Consistent lack of follow through breeds resentment and distrust. Making decisions requires confidence. It requires a degree of certainty. When tough decisions with serious consequences are called for, it can be difficult for some people to know what is best. The fear of making the wrong decision can cause a sort of mental paralysis. Individuals who are unable to be decisive may feel angry and agitated when faced with choices, because they are unsure of themselves. In the business world and in personal life, the choices we make can define us. The decisions we make can be wrong, and if they are, they can be very costly. In our busy world, every day brings a barrage of new decisions to be made. But what if decision making could be as easy and instinctual as  dealing with all those small choices, such as what to order at a restaurant? Effortless Decision Making I’ve been learning...