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13 Things Never To Say To Trauma Survivors

Do you or someone you know struggle with memories, flashbacks, depressed mood, anxiousness, fear, regret, guilt, or other negative emotions stemming from a history of trauma? If so, this article is for you. As I have stated multiple times in previous articles on trauma, most people not only struggle with understanding what trauma is and how to treat it, but also how to relate to those struggling with a history of trauma (mild, moderate, or severe). Having worked in the field of behavioral health and healthcare as a trauma therapist for almost 10 years, I have come to realize that a lot of people struggle with being compassionate to those with trauma histories. Why? Perhaps because the human mind perceives a "historical experience" to be just that, history. If the person appears to be surviving now and coping well in society, then nothing else could possibly be wrong. Sadly, this is not true and those with a history of trauma are often disregarded, intentionally or unintentionally, by family, friends, co-workers, and sometimes even mental health professionals. This article will discuss 13 statements that should never be made to someone with a history of trauma. I will offer suggestions on better ways to get a point across.
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9 Reasons Trauma Is So Hard To Understand

What comes to your mind when you hear the term trauma? Do you think of physical or psychological trauma? Do you have preconceived notions about how trauma may affect human development? Sadly, many people struggle to understand the emotional, psychological, and/or physical toll trauma can have on overall health. Trauma is not well understood by society which leads to miscommunication, misunderstandings, and sometimes further trauma. My experience has been that many people struggle to identify what trauma actually is and how it affects the brain and overall development. Many of these same people believe that trauma does not have to define or continue to affect you. While this is a positive and sometimes balanced view, trauma is something that leaves many fingerprints that cannot be so easily erased. This article will highlight some of the things I have seen, in my profession and life, that is difficult for others to understand about trauma. I have narrowed these things down to 9 for the purpose of keeping things structured and succinct.
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7 Things To Ask About Suicidal Thoughts

Have you (or someone you know) struggled with thoughts of suicide? Do you (or the person you know) experience guilt, embarrassment, or withdrawal from others after disclosing suicidal thoughts? As a therapist working with children, teens, and even adults at times who are suicidal and thinking of killing themselves, I am hardly ever prepared for the emotional roller coaster ride a session discussing suicidal ideation creates. With years of training in mental health, trauma, and self-injurious behaviors (i.e., cutting, burning, etc), I know all of the right questions to ask, all the right skills to provide, and all the right crisis supports to offer but am hardly ever prepared for the tears, the hopelessness, and the unanswerable questions that come my way. I often experience a feeling of helplessness as I watch the individual scramble to find some ounce of hope to live for. This article will highlight important questions to ask yourself or someone you know when suicidal thoughts occur. This article will also list diagnoses that make suicidal ideations more likely to occur.
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8 Triangulating Tactics of the Pathological Liar

Do you know people who engage in telling multiple lies, even when you or someone else has caught them? Do you know someone who seems to manipulate others with his or her lies? If so, this article is for you. As a therapist working with children and adolescents, I have seen my fair share of lies and juvenile-delinquent behaviors, which include pathological lies. Although we have all told a "while lie" or two, or minimized a situation to keep the peace, pathological liars lie for the simple fact of pleasure, manipulation, or to get what they want. To make matters worse, some pathologically lie for no apparent reason. Sadly, mental health professionals are largely uninformed about this insidious and evil behavior. We lack research and knowledge about pathological lying and have been unable, for centuries, to explain why it happens and how it develops. As a result, society remains very uninformed about pathological lying and is often shocked when someone close (a family member, friend, co-worker, etc.) begins sharing their lies and untruths. This article will highlight some of the common behaviors of pathological liars. I will also explain triangulation.
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7 Ways Trauma Victims Feel Stuck & Ways To Move Forward

Trauma is a powerful word.  Although trauma can include psychological, emotional, sexual, or physiological trauma, many people almost stagger when I mention the term.When clients hear me label some of their most disturbing and unhealthy experiences as "trauma" they look puzzled. Some come into my office already labeling their experiences as traumatic. But a select few shy away from the term. Why? Because most people understand trauma to be something horrific such as a murder or a terrible and untimely death, a violent rape, or something similar. But trauma is defined as a terrifying or disturbing event that overwhelms our  ability to cope. In other words, we experience a disturbing event in which we lack the appropriate skills to cope and therefore overcome the negative affects of the trauma. This article will focus on 7 ways trauma negatively affects us and offer tips on how to cope by supplementing your therapy by changing thoughts and behaviors. 
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What Therapy Is and Is Not: 10 Considerations

What is your perspective on therapy or counseling? Do you admire it, accept it, or feel grateful for it? Or do you disregard it, disapprove of it, or hate it? If so, why? Was it the type of therapist received? The type of  other clients you ran into while waiting in the waiting area? Was it the administrative staff or the opportunity for flexible appointments? Was it your therapist or his or her school of thought (i.e., professional perspective)?  Sadly, many people misinterpret what therapy is or what it should offer. Because of this, clients drop out of therapy when their overly high expectations are not met. For other people, the therapist or office staff did not deliver in the ways they should have. This article will discuss what therapy is (and should be) and what it is not.
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5 Reasons To Accept A Mental Health Diagnosis

Do you (or have you) struggled with accepting a mental health diagnosis? What about a personality disorder diagnosis? Whether it is a mental health or personality related diagnosis or not, acceptance can take years. Sadly, many people believe that acceptance of a mental health or personality disorder diagnosis means defeat. In fact, it can mean the very opposite. Courage is needed to accept reality across all domains of life. Women suffering from breast cancer somehow find the courage to accept their medical diagnosis, pursue appropriate treatment, and begin the journey of living with the diagnosis and finding ways to cope with the symptoms of the diagnosis. It is a long journey indeed.   This article will offer tips on how to help someone (or help yourself) accept and cope with a mental health or personality disorder diagnosis.
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How To Spot A Good Therapist: 9 Major Signs

Do you have a therapist or know someone who does? Are you (or that person) close to the therapist? Or are they (or you) counting every single minute until it is over? If so, I'm sorry to hear that. Therapy should always invigorate you, motivate you, break down barriers or "emotional walls," and challenge you. A therapist who does anything other than this is probably not a good therapist. This article will highlight 9 major signs of a good therapist.
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5 Dissociative Symptoms: Coping With Trauma

Have you ever found yourself feeling emotionally, psychologically, or even physically detached from reality? In other words, did you catch yourself in a strong state of daydreaming in which you "separated" in your consciousness from the world around you? As youngsters, and even some adults, daydreaming is a normal "separating from reality" for a moment of rest for the psyche.  But dissociation includes 2 main processes that can become severe over time, primarily when dissociation is a coping mechanism for a history of trauma (i.e., rape, incest, severe crime, violence within the home or community, etc.). While working in a residential treatment facility of youngsters with behavioral and mental health problems, many of my child and adolescent clients struggled with severe forms of dissociation. The mild form of dissociation will be discussed in this article with some focus on severe dissociation. I will also list ways to cope with the traumatic pain that often leads to dissociation.
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Acceptance: 5 Stages of Grief & Loss

Acceptance. What comes to mind when you hear that term? Does it seem like something you should do when you are ready? Does it seem like something you will never be able to do? Do you believe that acceptance means forgiveness, denial, or contentedness? If so, allow me to expand your view of acceptance through this article. For the past few years as a trauma therapist I have come to realize that almost every single family pursuing therapy has experienced some kind of loss and grief. That loss and grief does not only involve death but also divorce, estrangement, abandonment, strong denial, severe mental illness, and dissociation. You may be asking how the last three things could possibly be loss but it is important to understand that loss of a person you once knew, trusted, and/or understood can be just as terrorizing and even traumatizing as a divorce or death. This article will discuss the grief & loss process while also highlighting what acceptance means and offering ways to cope during each stage.
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