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VIDEO: What's New in Trauma Treatment?

Best Practices and More

Mary Jo Barrett

Here, Networker assistant editor Chris Lyford speaks with family therapist and trauma specialist Mary Jo Barrett about the evolution of trauma treatment and the importance of bringing families into the mix.

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Creating Neighborhoods of Healing

A Trauma Therapist’s Passage with Chicago Gang Members

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - I'm on a five-day camping trip with 20 gang members as part of a program called Pride ROC. Most of these guys have suffered repeated abuse and severe poverty, seen friends and family members shot, stabbed, or fatally overdosed on drugs. Not surprisingly, every one of them suffers from complex trauma—which is why I’m here as a therapist, trying to apply what I know and use in my office in a place far away from the comfortable world I usually inhabit.

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The Art of Not Knowing the Answer

A Trauma Specialist Shares Her Most Therapeutic Moment

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - My very first case was the Byford family. The father was serving a six-month sentence for domestic abuse. During a home visit several months into treatment, the daughter, Laura, announced, “Dad is getting out of jail today! And he’s coming here!” My mind went blank. Her mother looked at me. Suddenly, it was as though I passed whatever strength I had to her, and she then passed it back to me.

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Setting Boundaries in an Age of Informality

Discussing Ethics with Clients from the First Session

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - As the status of the therapist has shifted from that of an oversized figure with Svengali-like powers to that of an overworked and underpaid service provider at the mercy of the client-consumer who might sue him or her for some infraction, what are we to make of our traditional ethical codes?

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Working with Abusers and Their Families

Can Good and Evil Can Exist in the Same Person?

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - Families suffering from trauma, abuse, and neglect can begin to make the crucial distinction between a chronic state of overarousal and vigilance and "reality" only once a sense of physical and psychological safety has been established. Only after this first stage is it even possible to focus on changing dysfunctional mindsets, counterproductive behavior, and destructive family patterns.

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#MeTooManyTimes

How the Latest Movement Against Sexual Predation is Rattling Some Therapy Clients

Lauren Dockett

By Lauren Dockett - Many therapists who specialize in sexual abuse and trauma are reporting that the #MeToo movement and the ongoing accusations of sexual assault and harassment against powerful, public men are deeply affecting their clients.

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When Guiding Turns to Flirting

A Therapist Shares Her Story

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - Before it happened to me, I had never heard even my closest colleague talk about falling in love with a client. In our consultation group, the subject was once broached purely theoretically, and everyone became uncomfortably quiet. Yet, I want to break our conspiracy of silence so that we can get help when we need it. And believe me, when it came to Scott, I did.

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VIDEO: Combining Trauma Treatment with Family Therapy

Making Sure Treatment Sticks Outside the Therapy Room

Mary Jo Barrett

Far too often, trauma survivors appear to progress in therapy and then go home and fall right back into the same old patterns of negative emotion and dysfunctional relationships. According to Mary Jo Barrett, author of Treating Complex Trauma, a client’s family can be the therapist’s biggest ally in making sure progress is sustained outside the consulting room. Still, she says, many clinicians overlook how family therapy can support recovery.

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Reflections on the Path and Purpose of Trauma Work

Ending the National Health Problem of Family Violence

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - Family violence remains a national health problem that few therapists have been trained to deal with and, sadly, few of us want to address. On a good day, it’s a messy, complicated business, which doesn’t bring much financial reward or professional status. But over 40 years, we've amassed a wealth of knowledge on how to help traumatized families.

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Strengthening Trauma Therapy by Bringing in the Family

Mary Jo Barrett on the Healing Potential of Families in Trauma Treatment

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - Mostly, I think we avoid family therapy because families can be so exhausting, creating an atmosphere of great emotional volatility, which requires us to be on our toes all the time. But the therapy experience takes on an entirely different dimension when family members learn to be healing agents for each other. Clients, especially those who’ve been traumatized, often feel disconnected from themselves and somehow separate and cut off from other people.

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