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What to Do for the Family When Someone Has PTS

18 Sep

What can be done to prevent spouses from 'getting lost' in a partner’s posttraumatic stress?. . . 

Hi Belleruth,

I had a chance to share the research on how guided imagery is helping veterans. I shared it with a V.A. counselor who is finding that spouses are in great need of navigating how to not get lost in a partner's PTSD, and be open hearted at the same time. What can help this “second-hand PTSD” population?  
Jason


Dear Jason,

Being the spouse or kid or parent of someone with posttraumatic stress is often no day at the beach.  Secondary trauma or Compassion Fatigue can be just as exhausting as directly acquired PTS.  Often, what works for PTSD works for secondary trauma, as well, and sometimes better.  

Many spouses work with the Healing Trauma imagery and get excellent results. Sometimes they start out listening to it with their spouse, because it’s a way of getting them to use it. 

The Successful Relationships imagery can help any couple in a more general way. Traci Stein’s program for Self-Compassion is a great choice as well, as is Bodhipaksa’s Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness and Love.  

As for a meditation that specifically supports healthy, protective, personal boundaries, the Relaxation & Wellness imagery probably does that most directly.  The narrative creates a kind of psychological, spiritual and energetic cushion-boundary around the listener (filled with all the good wishes, prayers, gratitude and loving kindness ever sent their way), insulating them from what they don’t want, but still allowing in whatever is good and nourishing, so it promotes a sense of well-being without soft-soaping challenges.

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For younger kids, say pre-school through early elementary school, Roxanne Daleo’s guided imagery programs offer great support; for older elementary school kids, Betty Mehling’s Magic Island  and Lisa Malkeiwicz' The Sleep Fairy work really well.  For adolescents, I like Bodhipaksa’s Mindfulness Meditations for Teens. Any of these audios will help “install” powerful self-regulation and self-calming skills in kids – a lifelong skill that never stops benefiting the end-user. 

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Older adolescents and sophisticated younger teens should stick to the adult CDs.

I hope this helps.

All best,

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Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award