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The Power of Expressive Arts

A Three-Part Process for Engaging the Body in Therapy

Cathy Malchiodi • 1 Comment

By Cathy Malchiodi - For thousands of years, humans have been turning to the healing rhythms of the arts to confront and resolve distress. Expressive arts therapy uses the body’s sensory and kinesthetic experiences as a foundation for the exploration of emotions and personal narratives.

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The Bottom-Up Approach of Somatic Experiencing

A Close-Up Look at Peter Levine's Work with a Trauma Survivor

Lauren Dockett • No Comments

By Lauren Dockett - Peter Levine is the originator of a form of body psychotherapy called Somatic Experiencing (SE), a captivating but sometimes puzzling approach. Instead of asking questions about events that might elicit pain, Levine focuses on the body, zeroing in meticulously on what’s happening in the moment. Here's how it unfolded with his patient, TJ.

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VIDEO: Using the Arts in Trauma Treatment

Expressive Art Therapist Cathy Malchiodi Weighs In

Cathy Malchiodi, Lauren Dockett • 1 Comment

Psychotherapy Networker’s Lauren Dockett speaks with influential art and expressive art therapist Cathy Malchiodi about the broadening of her her field, how talk therapists can incorporate the arts to help clients connect and express, and why her work resonates so well with trauma clients.

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A Polyvagal Primer

A Three-Part Exercise That Taps Into the Nervous System to Create Safety and Trust

Deb Dana • 2 Comments

By Deb Dana - The three elements of our autonomic nervous system—ventral, sympathetic, and dorsal—act as our largely subconscious surveillance system, working in the background to read subtle signals of safety or threat. That’s why I help clients create a clear map of their own autonomic nervous systems, so they become aware of their patterns of response to ease and distress.

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Using Neuroscience in Therapy

Shifting Emotional States in an Instant

Frank Anderson • 3 Comments

By Frank Anderson - Most extreme reactions resulting from trauma fall under one of two categories: sympathetic hyperarousal and parasympathetic blunting. Understanding what happens in the nervous system when clients experience either orients me on how to go beyond my immediate reactions when confronted with trauma symptoms in the therapy room.

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Trauma Therapy Meets Theater

An Unusual Program is Helping Vets Rewire from War

Ryan Howes • No Comments

By Ryan Howes - Therapists know that words can heal. But what if the words were in iambic pentameter and delivered from a stage? Veteran and professional actor Stephan Wolfert is testing a PTSD intervention that for decades has been pairing classical theater training with the science of trauma.

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Creating Neighborhoods of Healing

A Trauma Therapist’s Passage with Chicago Gang Members

Mary Jo Barrett • No Comments

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 • No Comments

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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A Look Inside MDMA-Assisted Therapy

A Trauma Specialist Straddles Two Worlds

Marcela Ot’alora G. • 1 Comment

By Marcela Ot’alora G. - As every trauma therapist knows, getting free of the debilitating symptoms of PTSD, if it happens at all, can take years. In my work on an MDMA-research project, I’ve observed close-up the profound effect psychedelic drugs can have in facilitating—and sometimes transforming—the often lengthy and difficult process of healing from PTSD.

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Inside the Ayahuasca Experience

Gabor Maté on When Shamanism Meets Psychotherapy

Gabor Maté • No Comments

By Gabor Maté - Several years ago, I began to receive inquiries about what I knew regarding the use of ayahuasca in the healing of addiction. Since then, I've developed deep respect for the collaborative power of shamanic medicine allied with the insights and practice of depth psychology. Respect may be too mild a word—awe hits closer to the mark.

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