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Areas of Focus

Covert Abuse and Neglect

      Covert abuse very often looks like blaming the individual being abused. If a child is hit, for instance, they may be told, “If you had behaved, I wouldn't have had to hit you to get you to stop.”  Not only is an individual experiencing abuse (domestic violence, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse), but they are also experiencing the gaslighting effect of the abuse not being acknowledged.

       Consequently, survivors of covert abuse can feel as though they are losing their minds. They may feel as though they have brought the abuse upon themselves because they are unlovable, unworthy of affection or attention, or are just too dramatic to cope with normal relationship behavior. Individuals who have experienced covert abuse may also not realize that they have been abused. 

       It is similar with neglect - one doesn't realize something is missing if it was never there in the first place.  This can be the cause of childhood trauma where the person is not aware of the trauma, but sees trauma responses in their reactions.

Generational Trauma

       Generational Trauma, sometimes called intergenerational trauma, or transgenerational trauma, is the trauma that is passed down from parent to child, and continues for generations.  This type of trauma is often unrecognized because it is normalized in the family, which allows the cycle to continue.   Some common symptoms of generational trauma include low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, insomnia, anger, and self-destructive behaviors, including addiction.

       Trauma can also have a significant affect on the immune system because of the chemicals stress causes in the body, and may contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases, migraines and other chronic illnesses.

       Those at the highest risk for passing down generational trauma are families in which there has been an experience of significant forms of abuse, neglect, torture, oppression, and racial disparities. 

       The good news - just as traumatic experiences can be passed down from one generation to the next, so can the capacity for overcoming the trauma and building resilience.  Gaining awareness of generational trauma is the first step in stopping the cycle.

Developmental Trauma & CPTSD

    Complex PTSD comes in response to chronic traumatization over the course of months or, more often, years and it is most often seen in those whose trauma occurred in childhood. Because the brain is still developing and children are just beginning to learn who they are as individuals, understand the world around them, and build their first relationships - severe trauma interrupts the entire course of their psychologic and neurologic development.
    Children don't possess the tools to understand what is happening, and they are dependent on their caregivers, so the psychological and developmental implications part of who that child believes themselves to be.  This creates core beliefs that are very hard to untangle - later they show up in flashbacks, nightmares and other posttraumatic symptoms.

    Another important thing to know is that the trauma to children resulting in C-PTSD is usually deeply interpersonal within that child's caregiving system. The traumatic events were just one of the abuses, there is also often a neglect, hot-and-cold treatment from their caregiver, and a denial of the trauma if a child does try to speak up. This creates a complex web of trauma that hides easily in multiple other diagnosis.

Emotionally Immature Parents

Emotionally immature parents have a hard time raising emotionally healthy children, and this can cause childhood trauma.

8 Examples of Emotionally Immature Parenting*

  1. Seeming to have no feelings most of the time, but acting in extremely emotional ways at unpredictable times.

  2. Responding to their child's feelings in ways that do not match what the child is feeling.

  3. Acting with a complete lack of awareness of their child's feelings.

  4. Denying or not expressing anger and then having outbursts about something unrelated (this is passive-aggression).

  5. Putting their own feelings and needs ahead of their child's in a self-focused way.

  6. Misrepresenting the truth by exaggerating, twisting, or outright lying in order to get desired reactions from their children.

  7. Being willing to hurt their child as a way to make themselves feel better.

  8. Making decisions that hurt or damage their children and then failing or refusing to take responsibility for them.

  *https://psychcentral.com/blog/childhood-neglect/2019/11/how-emotionally-immature-parents-raise-emotionally-neglected-kids#2

Enneagram Personality Profile

       I believe the Enneagram gives us another way to look at ourselves and our interactions with others.  It also gives us a peek at our childhood wound, which effects our adult relationships, and also causes protections to be put up over our true self. 

       Understanding who you are, and why you do what you do is helpful in beginning to remove these protective walls to reveal and live out of your true self.  It also helps to figure out what self destructive patterns are common, what your unique gifts are, and how to work with your type to bring spiritual growth.​

  TAKE AN ENNEAGRAM ASSESSMENT

Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is an approach to psychotherapy that identifies and addresses multiple sub-personalities or families within each person’s mental system. These sub-personalities consist of wounded parts and painful emotions such as anger and shame, and parts that try to control and protect the person from the pain of the wounded parts. The sub-personalities are often in conflict with each other and with one’s core Self, a concept that describes the confident, compassionate, whole person that is at the core of every individual. IFS focuses on healing the wounded parts and restoring mental balance and harmony by changing the dynamics that create discord among the sub-personalities and the Self.

 

IFS was developed by psychologist Richard Schwartz. In his work as a family therapist, Schwartz began to observe patterns in how people described their inner lives: “What I heard repeatedly were descriptions of what they often called their "parts"—the conflicted subpersonalities that resided within them,” Schwartz says. He began to conceive of the mind as a family, and the parts as family members interacting with one another. Exploring how these components functioned with one another was the foundation for IFS and the idea of the core Self.

Spiritual Health

       As humans, we are hard wired to make meaning - we need to understand why things happen or make sense of things that don't seem to make sense.  Faith can be the light in the darkness so we can better see that meaning, it can also give us a purpose in life and help us make our way through trauma.  Faith also backs up other methods of making sense of this world, for example the Enneagram and Bach Flower Remedies, -using God's perfect design to heal and to help us see the bigger story, and ultimately, if we feel called, to help walk beside others on the healing paths we have we have previously gone down.  Spiritual health is an integral, and potentially pivotal, part of healing trauma.

 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Cor 1:3-4

Bach Flower Remedies

      Bach flower remedies are an alternative or complementary treatment that is used for emotional problems and pain. They’re made out of watered-down extracts from the flowers of wild plants.

      Edward Bach, a medical doctor and homeopath, created these remedies in the early 1900s. He believed that the body has the ability to cure itself, and that healing negative emotions helps the body heal.  Bach flower remedies is similar to homeopathy, but they use fewer materials and don't work directly on physical symptoms, but instead on the emotions, which I believe works well to complement the healing of childhood trauma, especially trauma that is subconscious - or trauma that happened before a child could communicate verbally.

      His system contains 38 remedies that each address a specific negative emotion. The emotions are grouped into seven broad psychological causes of illness:

  • Fear

  • Uncertainty

  • Lack of interest in present circumstances

  • Loneliness

  • Oversensitivity to influences and ideas

  • Sadness or despair

  • Cares for others at the expense of self

Neurodivergence (Autism, ADHD, etc) and Trauma

Neurodiversity and Trauma

Trauma occurs in response to events where we feel unsafe, threatened, or distressed. We are all different, and as a result, so is our response to the world. This means that trauma is highly subjective – what might not register for one person could be life-changing for another. Anything that puts us under sufficient levels of stress can be potentially traumatic.  As such, when considering trauma treatment, we must pay close attention to how the individual in question experiences the world rather than how we would. We need to validate each individual’s unique response if we are to make trauma treatment as inclusive as possible.

 

Neurodiversity or straying from the ‘behavioral norm’ is not generally celebrated in our society*—therefore leaving many very talented, smart, creative and unique thinkers to feel less than, not good enough, and severely distressed thus leading to more trauma. Furthermore, in an effort to fit in, please others, earn reinforcers, many neurodivergents mask their true selves, almost losing a part of who they are as a person which of course can compound the trauma experienced.

Trauma/Tension Release Exercises (TRE®)

      Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (or TRE®) is a simple yet innovative series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. Created by Dr. David Berceli, PhD, TRE safely activates a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance. 

Reported Benefits Include:

  • Less Worry & Anxiety

  • Reduces Symptoms of PTSD

  • More Energy & Endurance

  • Improved Marital Relationships

  • Better Sleep

  • Less Relationship Conflict

  • Reduced Muscle & Back Pain

  • Increased Flexibility

  • Greater Emotional Resiliency

  • Decreases Symptoms of Vicarious Trauma

  • Healing of Old Injuries

  • Lessened Anxiety surrounding Serious Illness

  • Relief from Chronic Medical Conditions

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Let's Work Together

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