Archive for the ‘Trauma’ Category

Healing From Trauma – A Relational Approach

Posted on: September 28th, 2018 By Simone Verrone

An individual’s problems with adjustment can be more clearly understood in the context of his/her interaction with others. Because we define ourselves in relation to other people, we know the ‘sense of self’‘ is constantly being created through those interactions. This is especially true when you take into consideration that person’s patterns of connection with loved ones. When love is expressed and accepted, it is the logical antidote to the helplessness and the sense of being disconnected and betrayed, which are at the core of countless traumatic experiences. Studies (1) show that, when a spouse is included in the treatment for anxiety, rates raised from 42% of therapeutic success (in individual therapy) to almost double, at 82% of success when both spouses are involved. It is only sensible then to make the most out of this healing element in everyone’s life (relationships) and use it as part of the treatment of trauma.
Healthy close relationships have been linked to resilience in combat situations, to the ability to cope with chronic stress and illness, and even to immune system competence. Because many traumas are marked by violations of human connections, the relationship with one’s life-partner is powerfully corrective, but it is often overlooked by health professionals as an active source of healing. Therapists who work with couples and families endeavor to create more positive connections between family members / husband and wife, where wounds can be healed utilizing those relationships as therapeutic catalysts. If you or someone you know is struggling from a traumatic experience or living with anxiety and needs healing, call (or fill out the online form) today. You CAN take the first step towards a healthier and fuller life.

(1) Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors, by Susan Johnson

6 Tips to Help Children Cope With Tragic News

Posted on: September 16th, 2017 By Simone Verrone

Boston Marathon
Parents play an important role in helping children cope with disturbing events. Since kids are still developing their ability to self-regulate, us parents serve as a critical regulating support, not just by modeling through our own self regulation but also by scaffolding and resourcing our child’s emotional regulatory system. This is because healthy connection with another human being helps us all regulate in moments of stress, no matter how old we are. The older the child is, the broader that regulatory system becomes, because their social network expands. The truth is, however, that parents remain one of the most powerful regulation resources for their child for life (even into teenage years).
Having that in mind, here are some tips on how to help your child process difficult news that have sadly become too frequent in today’s world:
1. How young is too young? Talk to your kids from preschool age on – the degree to what you share depends on the age of your child, but it is important to talk to them because they are likely to hear about it from friends at school or hear it in the news you have been watching. They should get the facts from you.
2. Avoid allowing the TV news to permeate your home environment for a long period of time – even if you are curious about the latest find, the news outlets usually replay what you already know repeatedly, which is not helpful for anyone watching. Instead of informing you and your children, this fosters anxiety. Monitor screen time – images can be very graphic, and can lead to feeling overwhelmed.
3. The younger the child is, the harder for him or her to express with words what is going on inside – ask your preschool child to draw his or her thoughts and ask them to share what the picture means to them. This will help them organize their internal processes as well as ‘share their load’ of worries with you, which helps them down-regulate.
4. Do not dismiss it if your child talks about being worried – what they need is for their experience to be heard and understood by someone, and it is especially important that parents receive and ‘get it’. Show that you do understand their fear, and assure them of your connection with them. Not to emphasize they should be afraid, but to let them know you understand what they are feeling (most likely, you are feeling the same way).
5. Turn their attention towards hope to offset any overwhelming sense of fear – When talking about the news, it is important to point out that there were many people who were willing to do good and help, in the face of someone’s evil act.
6. Help them have a sense of control as opposed to helplessness – Events like this can bring a feeling of powerlessness. It is helpful to ask your children if they want to do something to help those who suffered so they don’t feel alone. There is always something we can do and even small acts like praying or lighting a candle, but it is also possible to reach out through writing a letter, sending a care package or even doing random acts of kindness in honor of those victims. Being able to take a positive action in the face of such tragic events helps both children and adults move on.
The most important thing is that these are key moments of connection with our children, and even though a parent may feel like there are not many words they can say, starting that dialogue with your children is of paramount importance.

Beyond “Stranger Danger”

Posted on: October 13th, 2012 By Simone Verrone

The tragic news about the abduction and killing of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway have lead many parents to wonder what, if anything, they should say to their children about the tragedy. What to consider: if children of any age have seen it on TV or overheard an adult comment about it, it is a good idea to address it with them. Many times we discard kids’ ability to understand what they hear and end up leading them to ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ of the incomplete pieces of information they heard or saw. Now, if your child is school age, make sure to communicate about it with them – trust me, kids will share this type of information with each other, and it would be good for you to take the opportunity to share your own version of what happened. It is sometimes important that you breach the subject with them so that they know it is safe to talk to you about it, and that YOU can handle to talk about those difficult subjects. As you talk about it, allow them to ask questions and make sure you answer them truthfully, but without the need to be too graphic. It is important to be truthful, and to use age-appropriate language to explain death and the fact that ‘not everyone is nice’. Listen to their concerns and do not discard any worries they have – if kids do not feel you are listening and valuing their thoughts and feelings, they might stop sharing them with you. Keep the line of communication open and they will know to come to you if they feel threatened or confused about something in the future as well.
Parents themselves also have their fears renewed about something happening to their own child. It is key to consider that this might be an opportunity to talk to your children about their safety. One of the ‘old’ ways to conveying to the kids the need to be careful is teaching them about ‘Stranger Danger’. Authorities consider that many of the cases of child abduction have been perpetrated by people who was known by the child, and NOT a complete stranger. It is important to tell them specifically the names of who would be safe to get in the car or leave with – anyone else is an automatic ‘NO!’, even if they are a neighbor/coach/teacher/relative. Because kids think more concretely, make sure to also explain that bad people do not usually look dangerous – they could look harmless and even seem sweet, just offering a ride or asking for the child for help. Convey to them that, although they are safe, they need to understand that there are certain things they need to know/do to stay safe.
Don’t forget to be aware of your own feelings. Traumatic events we follow in the media can make old wounds resurface, and even seemingly unrelated past issues or traumas could ‘come back’ (for you, but also for your child).
If you feel you and/or your child are having anxiety – and a difficult time moving forward from any of those things mentioned – you do not have to just suffer through it. If you decide to seek professional help, call me and set an appointment today. Healing is possible and therapy can help.