To rise out of suffering
is to view the past at a different angle.

-Dee Spring, PhD

Trauma, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can result from many different types of life events. It might be a dog bite, witnessing an accident or a crime, a family divorce, a major, life-threatening illness or a death, or being a victim in any way. Certainly, physical or sexual abuse, rape and incest are major traumas, as are witnessing domestic violence or abuse, especially in the home. This might be parents fighting or a sibling being molested. Vicarious trauma is also quite serious and is treated differently because it often involves what is called “survivor’s guilt.”

LYNNE: “Trauma occurs all the time, and I get referrals as a result, but recently the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred in very close proximity to my office. This created a huge challenge because trauma patients were re-traumatized. The creative tools were especially helpful in dealing with this very unusual circumstance. A women’s group I was running stopped their work on childhood sexual abuse and insisted on focusing on the loss throughout the neighborhood. The Me Too Cards™ got them back on track eventually. Children and teens in therapy for sexual abuse suddenly had “missing” parents and tremendously conflicting feelings. The Silent Relationship Journals™ were extremely useful during this time. Many child and teenage patients reported sleeping with theirs for weeks that fall and winter. Patients came to sessions with dirt from Ground Zero, wanting to make art with it, which I could not allow for health reasons. The Wish Boxes™ and the The Core Feelings Activities-Pick Your Memory™ also were especially valuable during this crucial time. The creative tools are incredibly adaptable, for anything, really, and if I need more, I can always make them.

What is important to know about treating trauma is that different types of trauma need to be treated differently. There are common dynamics but there are also subtleties. Healing from trauma, however, always involves safety, careful pacing, a secure environment, and a good therapist. It is Lynne’s experience that the process of healing from trauma is most effective when it involves one or more of the Creative Arts Therapies in combination with verbal psychotherapy.
Education is important as well. When patients come to therapy and ask how they will get well, Lynne explains the process. She finds it important that patients see therapists as real people and not unique beings with magic secrets to wellness. Patients need to know that they have their part as well, and healing requires they fulfill their part.

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