Popular Topic - Trauma

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Case Study

Like a Ghost - Using EMDR to Revive a Traumatized Vet’s Marriage

January/February 2007
EMDR helps a young Irag War vet and his wife emerge from the nightmare of his war experience.

The Precarious Present

Why is it So Hard to Stay in the Moment?

November/December 2006
All of us ruminate, bringing up the cud of old, unresolved problems. But far from being idle mind chatter, most of these mental distractions are actually the brain's attempt to protect us from the prospect of mortal danger.

The Limits of Talk

Bessel Van der Kolk Wants to Transform the Treatment of Trauma

January/February 2004
For more than 20 years, Bessel van der Kolk has been in the forefront of research in the psychobiology of trauma and in the quest for more effective treatments. Now he's touched off an intense debate about the role of scientific evidence in finding ways to alleviate suffering and the future of the traditional talking cure itself.

The Politics of PTSD

How a Controversial Diagnosis Battled Its Way into the DSM

January/February 2004
hatever the VA's official position, however, by the early '70s, there were vast, underground rumblings about something going round the country—some strange, debilitating constellation of symptoms that seemed to be afflicting tens of thousands of returning Vietnam veterans.

Applying the Brakes

In Trama Treatment, Safety is Essential

January/February 2004
Much as we don't like to admit it publicly, it's an open secret among therapists that the road to recovery from trauma can be fraught with clinical missteps. So my approach to trauma work is rooted in an experience I had when a friend asked me to teach her to drive. Sitting in the passenger seat next to her as she prepared to turn on the ignition, I suddenly panicked. I quickly realized that before I taught her how to make that powerful machine go, I had to make sure that she knew how to put on the brakes. I apply the same principle to therapy, especially trauma therapy. I never help clients call forth traumatic memories unless I and my clients are confident that the flow of their anxiety, emotion, memories, and body sensations can be contained at will.

Reclaiming the Self

One Woman's Refusal to Allow a Nightmare to Define Her Life

January/February 2004
We all know that there are people capable of intentionally brutalizing others, but for most of us, this is an intellectual awareness, not a firsthand experience. When the theoretical becomes actual, the world becomes a different, far more threatening, place. For me, I learned that recovery is made possible by shifting focus from the pain of the attack to what gives life meaning and purpose.

The End of Innocence

Reconsidering Our Concepts of Victimhood

July/August 2003
In our treatment of survivors over the past two decades, the therapeutic pendulum has swung from complete denial to an overfocus on the wounded inner child. Today, with a clearer view of the neurobiological impact of trauma and the lessons learned from their clinical mistakes, therapists are increasingly wary of bestowing the mantle of victimhood on their clients.
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Constructing The Third Reality

How to move from conflict to coexistence

July/August 2003
The Family Dialogue Project grew out of my attempt to help therapists, abuse survivors, and their families caught in the meshes of terrible conflicts from which there seemed to be no relief or exit.

The Pragmatics of Hope

What to Do When All Seems Lost

January/February 2003
We frequently assume that all clients must feel hopeful and believe that life is meaningful before they'll make much progress in therapy or in life. But in the wake of catastrophe, it's often impossible to summon up the least glimmer of hope or faith or sense of life's meaning. To clients who have suffered profound trauma, it's ludicrous to suggest that they can be coaxed into feeling hopeful about the future. But sometimes, the simplest act can have profound power.

Treating the Self-Harming Client

Therapists Must First Get Past Their Own Anxiety

September/October 2002
My refusal to accept Robin's self-cutting as anything but dysfunctional kept me from hearing what she was trying to tell me. Worse, it was actually causing more destructive behavior.
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