It's Thanksgiving week, and I'm thinking about a colleague I met at a conference a while ago, who told me about the challenges she was facing from dealing with her traumatized husband while he was in the first stages of posttraumatic stress and probably TBI (traumatic brain injury) after a terrible accident that left him with broken bones, chronic pain and a state of constant fury.
They'd been married for 45 years and were totally devoted to each other, but his constant rages were hard for her to endure. She told me, "You know, I never for a minute considered divorce, but MURDER?? Definitely!"
We have many military families dealing with similar scenarios, taxed to the limit physically, emotionally and financially. It can be a heavy, exasperating, nonstop burden, infused with grief for all that's been lost.
Depression in family caregivers is rife. Some feel so trapped, they think about suicide.
Listen up, good people!
On Wednesday, November 19th, one of my all time favorite trauma experts – none other than the brilliant treatment innovator Peter Levine, creator of Somatic Experiencing - will be offering this week's free webinar for NICABM, as part of their new series, Rethinking Trauma: The Third Wave of Trauma Treatment.
Whenever I'm asked by a therapist which of the many new trauma therapies they should train in if they only have time for one, I answer that if they've got the time and money, Somatic Experiencing is the one. It's just such an elegantly effective protocol that makes the most sense, because it's body-based, just like trauma is, and because it's the least likely to create distress, activate symptoms or get clients stuck in ugly experiences of the past. (And by the way, it's superb for treating many conditions, not just PTS).
Again, it's free at the time of broadcast and you can sign up here.
The past two decades have seen an explosion of research linking simple stress reduction practices with improved outcomes for people with diabetes.
Guided imagery, hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, breath work, acupuncture, yoga, reiki, qigong, biofeedback, mindful walking – there's quite a list. All seem to improve blood chemistry and promote greater well being. And guided imagery is particularly user friendly, practical and effective for people managing the everyday challenges of diabetes.
The reasons are pretty obvious. Stress increases the flow of cortisol and other stress hormones in the bloodstream, and they in turn increase insulin resistance, the production of bad cholesterol, hypertension and a host of other unattractive health outcomes.
Well, it's that time of year again, when people start feeling blue, depressed, sapped of energy and filled with "what's the point of it all" ennui.
Therapists notice it right away, because the phone starts ringing off the hook – new clients looking for help, and people who terminated their therapy years ago, coming back for a tune-up.
And yes, it's connected with the difficult issues in their lives, but chances are, these issues were operating over the summer too, but just didn't hit them as hard as when the sun started getting stingier with its light.
Well, it's that time of year again – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And once again we're offering our Pink Ribbon Survive & Thrive Pack, created for all those breast cancer survivors who want to maintain a wellness regimen once treatment is over.
What we found was that people can get pretty anxious when treatment ends, because, even though that's generally a good thing, there's still this feeling of "Well, at least I knew I was doing something – even if the chemo produced nasty side effects, and the radiation therapy was no day at the beach either...".
And this loss of having something to do can be felt especially strongly by people who used guided imagery during that time of treatment, to boost the action of their medical protocols or help with pain or nausea or fatigue, or just to allay anxiety or provide uplift and a sense of mastery. That imagery served a real need.
Well, this month we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness, and a good thing, too. Emotional and physical abuse is far more prevalent and ubiquitous than most of us believe. It's not just beefy, steroidal, misogynistic football players punching out their wives in elevators and then hauling off their unconscious bodies like a cheap sack of potatoes.
And no way is it limited to the underprivileged, or women, or the young, or the non-white, either.
If you want to do a quick breaking of stereotype, think old, wealthy, white guy in wheelchair, who's a little annoying because he's pretty deaf and quasi-paralyzed and hard to move around, who's receiving home health care from a private provider, and you'll have another profile of who gets screamed at, beaten, sadistically teased, over- controlled, pushed around, robbed, derided, mortified and terrified. The guy's kids either haven't a clue what's going on, don't care, or behave just as badly as the caregiver.
Well, so I feel like I turned my attention away for a minute, diapered a grandkid, made myself a cup of coffee.. and while I was gone, trauma treatment turned on its head and transformed – again!
I kid you not, this is the fastest growing psych field I know.
If you're a busy clinician or a concerned family member, there's no way you can keep up with these new discoveries. I mean, NO WAY.
This is very exciting and wonderful, but a tad daunting, I gotta say.
For those of you who celebrate the Jewish New Year, everyone at HJ wishes you a happy, healthy 5775!
I love the ritual of wiping the slate clean and starting over – forgiving others for their offenses and asking for forgiveness for our own. If you've ever tried it, you know it's not so easy to do – either side of the equation. And it creates its own state of mindfulness as we try to stay in that enlightened "fresh and new" space.
And speaking of shaping up and beginning anew, you really must check out Traci Stein's free wellness report – Kicking the Habit: Ten Keys to Positive Change, on how to dump dysfunctional old habits and acquire some healthy new ones – in other words, create positive change in your life, even if it feels like it's impossibly difficult or even hopeless.
Hello again, everyone, and happy fall.
I’ve reduced my public speaking by quite a bit, but I’ve made an exception for this extraordinary local event on October 10th in Solon, Ohio - the upcoming Heal the Healers Symposium offered by University Hospitals. This will be a first-class, all-day cornucopia of holistic, mind-body offerings, presented and demo’d by experts in the field, at Signature of Solon.
It’s a jam packed day, starting with a welcome from the always inspiring journalist, Regina Brett, and interspersed with a delicious, healthy breakfast and lunch. There will be therapeutic yoga, music therapy, acupuncture, chair massage, Reiki, tips on maintaining healthy muscle tone from Robert Truax DO; some important info about substance abuse among health care professionals from Ray Isackila, LPCC; and Peter Geller LAc, LOMP, will be talking about integrating Chinese Herbal Medicine into a traditional practice.
I was really happy to see an order zip past my screen from the Rhode Island National Guard, requesting multiple copies of our guided imagery for Relaxation & Wellness, Healing Trauma and Mind-Body Exercises for Stress Hardiness Optimization.
As many of my good buddies in the military tell me, those guardsmen and women generally get next to nuthin’ when they come home (except grief) – they were thrown in harm’s way with the least preparation or training, and come home to even fewer resources than the regular military and vets get, even though they’re as injured and vulnerable and as in need of help as anyone, if not more so.
So it really gives us all here a big lift to know these men and women are getting something that might really help them. It’s a resource that these outfits can realistically afford and will actually use.
When I asked Cindy and Elizabeth what other Guards have ordered our stuff, they told me we had Army and Air National Guards from California, Alaska, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississipi, Minneapolis, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.