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28 Jun

Question:

Dear Belleruth,

Thanks for making so many wonderful audio programs. I’m confused about the best way to use all the ones I want. I’m dealing with several different issues. Do I have to start with just one, or can I get all three of them and begin using them right away?

Thanks,

Danielle

26 Jun

June 27th is National Posttraumatic Stress Awareness Day, so I’m taking the occasion to point out a few things. 

The actual name for the day is “PTSD” Awareness Day, but I’m not using those initials, because I don’t think the “D” (for Disorder) belongs there. The experience of Posttraumatic Stress does not constitute a mental disorder, regardless of PTSD’s prominent listing in the DSM-V. (That’s the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which therapists use to assign diagnoses and file for insurance).  

PTS is a normal reaction to abnormal events.

It’s a body based neurophysiological and biochemical response to threat.

It’s an ancient, human, survival-driven, wired-in answer to danger, real or perceived – it makes no difference to the body.

Capacity for words shuts down and sheer instinct takes over. That’s so we can move and act faster, the better to save our lives.

Ugly images stay stuck in the brain and repeat, as fresh and contemporaneous as the day they first showed up. That’s because traumatic memories aren’t stored in the usual structures in the brain where normal memories are housed.

That’s why standard therapy or “the talking cure” doesn’t help as much as we once thought it could.  It’s like apples trying to talk to oranges.

Instead, techniques like guided imagery, EMDR, Healing Touch, Somatic Experiencing, Yoga Therapy, Emotional Freedom Technique and other sensory and body based approaches are far more effective and quick-acting. That’s apples talking to apples.

I tried to spell this out in my book, Invisible Heroes. So does Robert Scaer in The Body Bears the Burden. Peter Levine was early to the party with Waking the Tiger. Bessel van der Kolk came later with The Body Keeps the Score

Hopefully the DSM-VI will set the record straight and take out that D. Stay tuned!

All best,

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Belleruth 

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20 Jun

Question:

I have yet to find a good guided visual imagery program for reducing uterine fibroids. I have more and more patients in my psychotherapy practice who are dealing with fibroids, wanting to do everything they can to reduce the fibroids and avoid surgery. (If they do need surgery, of course I immediately get them started on your CD for that!)

It would be enormously useful to have one of your guided visual imagery CDs for these women -- and as the baby boomers move toward and into menopause, there will certainly be more and more of them!

Thanks for all you have already produced, and always looking forward to more.

Marion

19 Jun

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a short-term, behavioral therapy that helps people counter anxiety and their own limiting beliefs, in order to make positive changes. It requires no deep-dish psychodynamic insight into motivation and no delving into anguished family history – all it asks (more or less) is that you state a positive intention while tapping on acupoints.

Now, all that tapping can look pretty weird, but it seems to help a good slice of the population. And, because it’s so undemanding on a person’s time and cash reserves, it’s not a bad strategy to try first, before signing up for the more lengthy, pricey and complicated process of psychotherapy.

13 Jun

A man suffering from clinical depression and anxiety since the loss of his beloved wife two years ago, wonders if guided imagery can help him, along with the counseling he’s already getting. Here is his question and our answer:

Question:

I am taking EMDR with a counselor as part of grief treatment. I lost my beloved wife two years ago July. 

I have your excellent CD on cancer (I had a cancer scare myself, but am cancer-free, praise the Lord.)

What CDs or other materials do you recommend for grief?  I have suffered with clinical anxiety and depression because of my wife's death. Therapy has helped a lot, but I love guided imagery.

12 Jun

I just had a hip replacement - a surprisingly easy and comfortable surgery, as these things go. The staff had me walking the same day, and I was able to leave the hospital soon after, with only a mild ache in my leg – nothing a little Tylenol couldn’t handle, and, truth be told, I’d have been fine without the Tylenol, too.

(My physical therapist says she finds that about half the people who have this surgery find it a breeze. The other half are wired to experience significant pain. In terms of actual healing and recovery, however, it takes the same amount of time for both groups.) 

Nonetheless, my excellent surgeon discharged me from the hospital with 60 Oxycodone tablets (5 mg.), and 14 Morphine extended release tabs (15 mg.). That’s a lot of dope.

07 Jun

Men are neither as healthy nor as long-lived as women. What makes them so much more vulnerable? It’s Men’s Health Week, after all, and a good time to ask.

A lot of studies point to one critical variable, and it’s not obesity, smoking or even stress.

06 Jun

Dear Belleruth:

I work in a nursing home where we always have confused people who are awake all night and sleep during the day.  I’d love to use guided imagery for sleep or agitation.  Which CD would be best for people with various types of dementia? Does guided imagery even work with brains that are damaged? 

Thanks,
Kay

01 Jun

Well, we've reached another milestone: the VA is now officially including guided imagery as a laudable practice for vets, after decades of VA patients and line practitioners using it anyway. (Over 90 VA hospitals and Vet Centers have been ordering guided imagery from Health Journeys since the early 90s. They always knew it worked, it was inexpensive, and it was easy to use - especially for vets who had trouble coming in for appointments.)

31 May

Question:

Dear Belleruth, 

I’ve been diagnosed with Stage Two Breast Cancer.  I am undergoing chemotherapy, which seems to be working, but I get discouraged and scared just the same.  I have been cautioned by my kids to stop worrying or I will make the cancer worse.  Even my nurse tells me how important it is to maintain a positive attitude.  How much damage am I doing to my body by worrying, and how can I stop?  

Melissa M.

30 May

The tragic death of 52-year-old grunge rock icon, Chris Cornell, highlights our mounting national concern over the overuse of prescription drugs and the opioid epidemic assailing us.

Evidently Cornell told his wife he had taken too much Ativan after his Detroit concert. We know Ativan is highly addictive and can produce some unpleasant – even dangerous and suicidal - side effects. Its generic name, Lorazepam, is part of a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzos.

Valium is another well-known benzo. Back in the 80’s, before docs knew about its addictive nature, Valium was dispensed like candy to anyone complaining of feeling nervous, unsettled, agitated or panicky.

Other meds are now recommended for anxiety first – SSRI’s and anti-depressants.

23 May

Question:

My therapist told me that it might be better to restrict myself to guided meditation that doesn’t involve trying to visualize. I used to really enjoy doing visualizations, but now I am plagued by negative images, the opposite of what I’m after, and cannot see the positive any more. This frustrates and upsets me. What should I do? 

Sarah