Archive for 'Healing from trauma'

Jun 03

“We have created a culture of bogus victimology that almost daily seems to drown our moral sense – by making excuses for vicious criminality, and obscuring the real suffering that such criminality so often leaves in its wake.”

Charles Sykes

What is the true significance of being sexually abused or “violated”? Literature on the subject is as various as victims themselves are. The effect on an individual varies as greatly as the hotstar nature of the offense and the nature of the victim. Experts on trauma admit the area still remains unclear and in need of more investigation.

There is not necessarily a “normal” reaction to sex abuse, so we must focus on the most commonly agreed on effects of abuse. We know that at its core, sex abuse is a violation of a person’s most inviolate possession, “the self”. Without too much psycho-philosophic inferences, suffice it to say that the most highly prized personal possession has been transgressed.

The “self” is commonly referred to as mind, body, and spirit. A training card at a recent workshop stated eloquently that “there is no part of life that does not contain the spirit”. As one specialist in the field stated, “It is the spirit that holds the fabric of the self together, the power to know, to love, and to will.”

In treating the effects of being sexually violated, the endeavor then is to assist the victim in restoring their “spirit”.

May 12

Why is it important for you to move past the traumatic event?
“Your objective is not to become perfect. If you have been raped, your objective is to be as you were before the rape, but stronger and wiser. If you were abused as a child, your objective is to rid yourself of the feelings and behavior caused by the abuse and claim the talents and well-being that are yours by right.”

Moving past the traumatic event can strengthen oneself. You can become stronger than you were before the victimization.

Traumatic events not only affect the physical self, but also the mind. Too often the physical aspect is treated, but the mind is not.

Using Trauma to Build Strength:
“When trauma is incorporated into our reservoir of experience it becomes a resource; a wise friend instead of an enemy.”

Traumatic events can be a learning experience if dealt with. After examining what happened and looking at what could or could not have been done differently, it can teach an individual what to look out for.

Processing Trauma:
We are all different when it comes to dealing with life’s experiences. “We are as different from each other mentally as we are physically. So what matters is not how terrible our experiences seem to others, but how we feel about them ourselves.”

Some things in life are easier to deal with; unfortunately, in life people are faced with difficult and traumatic events. These traumatic events, although hard to deal with and work through, can help a person learn and grow.

Although hard to deal with, breaking the traumatic event into smaller issues and tackling them is very beneficial.

“Imagery can be a very powerful tool in healing and moving past the traumatic events in a person’s life. The use of imagery in healing is powerful because it is natural to our species. Our ancestors knew how to use imagery to change their feelings and they knew how to use their feelings to change events. They rehearsed success and were confident they would achieve it. Today we acknowledge that a positive state of mind contributes to success. This is done by building new imagery in order to outweigh the traumatic events. The brain builds new systems to cope with our changing needs, such as learning how to cope with traumatic events. Taking control of your brain formation and learning to change your thoughts on a traumatic event will help you heal.”

Understanding yourself

During the healing process it is important for you to understand why you do the things you do. It is important to examine your irresponsible behaviors that are causing you problems, and look at why you are choosing to continue these behaviors.

Common behaviors to examine:

Why do I sleep around when I don’t want to?
People who have been sexually abused may associate this act with false closeness and intimacy. The loneliness may drive an individual to constantly search for a fulfillment, which they may struggle with identifying.

Why do I choose partners to abuse myself with?
If a childhood is traumatic, an individual might choose a partner that beats them up, rejects or humiliates them.

For a victim of sexual abuse the refusal to eat often starts with a sense of being ‘bad’. In our image-conscious society ‘bad’ easily becomes ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ becomes ‘ugly’. This distortion is projected onto the person in the mirror and overrides all other information. Then magic enters our thinking, ‘if fat can be conquered, then life will be different’.

Self-cutting and burning:
Sometimes self-loathing, anger or shame can become so intense that they are harder to bear than physical pain. When this happens, physical pain itself can seem to alleviate the feelings because the brain laboratory reacts to pain by releasing ‘feel good’ chemicals. This begins a cycle of blame, the verbal attack of oneself because of the self-harm, followed by depression, then more self-harm to deal with the emotional pain.

Understanding why you do these behaviors does not justify these behaviors. This opens the door for change and healing. The vicious cycle must be broken by changing the unhealthy messages you are telling yourself.

May 05

“Forgiving your self means that you give up the right to blame yourself for what you could not control. You may have achieved some level of intellectual self-forgiveness through your rational analysis of the assault. However, emotional self-forgiveness can take much longer and it requires you to acknowledge and process your anger, grief, and other strong feelings.” This is a process that needs to continue even after the cognitive healing has taken place.

Moving on
The past will always be part of you and you may be faced with memories of what happened. It is important to remember, what happened to you does not make you who you are. Changing your thinking is a life change and it is necessary to continue to work on your emotional growth and using rational self-talk.

Making amends
“Perhaps there were times when you misdirected your anger regarding your victimization onto other people who did not deserve it. If you feel guilty about these actions, you may want to apologize or make amends to these people.” It is not acceptable to excuse your behaviors because of your victimization; you need to take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Your victimization does not give you the right to hurt and victimize others. If you acted irresponsibly towards others and used your victimization as an excuse, you need to change these behaviors and make amends to those you hurt.

At no time should you ever use your victimization to excuse your irresponsible, hurtful behaviors.

Jan 04

Motivational Interviewing: is a directive, client centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients explore and resolve ambivalence.

• Motivation to change is elicited from the client and not imposed from without. You can’t give someone motivation much like you can’t give them self-esteem. This relies upon identifying and utilizing the client’s intrinsic values to stimulate behavior change.

• It’s the clients task (not the counselors) to articulate and resolve ambivalence. Each course of action has perceived benefits and costs associated with it.
Example: If I stop smoking I’ll feel better about myself, but I’ll gain weight which will make me unattractive and unhappy. The counselor’s job is to facilitate expression of this seeming impasse to how the ambivalence may be resolved.
Example: If I drop my demanding behavior I’ll feel weak and vulnerable.

• Direct persuasion is not an effective method for resolving ambivalence.
Urgent persuading increase client resistance.

• The counseling tone is a quiet and eliciting one.
Direct persuasion, aggressive confrontation and argumentation are the conceptual opposites of MI.

• The counselor is directive in helping the client examine and resolve ambivalence.
The operational assumption in MI is that ambivalence or lack of resolve or choice is the principal obstacle to be overcome in triggering change.

• Readiness to change is not a client trait but a fluctuating product of interaction with the counselor.
The counselor then must be responsive to signs of motivation. Resistance and denial are feedback on how the counselor is doing and may be a cue to modify the approach.

• The counselor/client relationship is a partnership or collaboration.