Right Brain Therapy : Is It More Appropriate For Trauma Survivors?

Right Brain Therapy : Is It More Appropriate For Trauma Survivors?

 

 

 

Why is it that right brain therapy may be more appropriate for trauma survivors as opposed to therapies that concentrate largely upon the left brain?

Right Brain And How We Relate To Others :

One of the main symptoms of complex posttraumatic stress disorder (from which we may suffer if we experienced significant and protracted childhood trauma) is having problems relating to others.

The brain is made up of two halves, called hemispheres : the left hemisphere (or, left brain) and the right hemisphere (or, right brain). It is the right brain that plays a vital role in how we relate to others because it is intimately involved with many functions that affect how we get along, or, don’t get along, with other people. These functions include :

– our ability to empathize with other people

– our ability to trust others

– our ability to identify with others

– our ability to read the emotions of other people from their facial expressions

– our ability to form healthy attachments with others

– non-conscious communication

Because these functions can be impaired if we have complex PTSD, and because they are controlled largely by the right brain, it follows logically that therapy to restore these functions to their optimum levels should, too, concentrate on the right brain.

Why Do These Functions Reside In The Right Brain?

This is because, in the first two years of life, according to psychodynamic theory, our interactions with our primary caregiver very significantly lay the foundations of our emotional life, including our expectations regarding relationships with others ; these expectations are encoded, on an unconscious level, in the right brain.

Right Brain Therapy And Self-Esteem :

Those with complex PTSD also frequently have significant problems in relation to their sense of self-esteem and therapy for this, too, is also likely to be especially effective when it concentrates upon the right brain. Again, according to psychodynamic theory, this is because the foundations of our self-esteem are (and it is worth repeating) acquired in our first two years of life and are encoded, on an unconscious level, in the right brain.

It follows, therefore, that if our interactions with our primary caregiver in the first two years of our lives are dysfunctional in a way that leads us to believe others do not regard us as of value and worth, we are at high risk of developing into adults who have an ingrained, deeply embedded, unconscious set of negative expectations with regard our relationships with others and our self-esteem.

In other words, such poor expectations regarding our relationships with others and low self-esteem have their foundations in a set of unconscious beliefs, stored in the right brain, that were laid down during the first two years of our lives.

Right Brain And Our Sense Of Safety :

Another feature of complex PTSD is that of a constant feeling of being unsafe and under threat. Research conducted by Schorre (2003) suggests that the sense of how safe, or unsafe, we feel is largely dictated by the right brain.

How Does Right Brain Therapy Work?

Right brain therapy can work by modifying behavior patterns encoded on an unconscious level in the right brain.

Right Brain And Implicit Memory :

Memories stored in the right brain before the age of about two years are known as IMPLICIT memories. This means we are unable to articulate them in words as they are not stored at a linguistic level. Therefore, such memories can only make themselves known to us in ways that are non-verbal (e.g. via our feelings, body sensations and mental imagery).

However, when these memories are triggered and give rise to these feelings, body sensations and mental images we are unaware of their origin for the very reason that they derive from these unconscious/implicit memories in the right brain.

Only right brain therapy then, that can modify these implicit memories on an unconscious level, may be truly effective as left brain therapy, relying on language, is unable to effectively connect with such non – linguistically stored memories.

Examples Of Right Brain Therapy :

These include :

– Art therapy

– Play therapy

– Hypnosis

– Mental imagery
Right Brain Therapy : Is It More Appropriate For Trauma Survivors?

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Effects Of Childhood Trauma

Effects Of Childhood Trauma

The effects of childhood trauma can be devastating and, in the absence of effective therapy, can last well into adulthood or even for an entire lifetime.

This website contains over 700 articles, all written by psychologist, writer and educator, David Hosier, BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE), himself a survivor of childhood trauma, on the effects of childhood trauma and closely related topics.

The most well known study on the effects of childhood trauma is called The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study.

The main findings of this extremely important study were as follows :

Those who experience significant childhood trauma are at increased risk of:

  • And, if you explore this website, you will discover that the above list is far from exhaustive when enumerating the myriad effects of childhood trauma.

What Types Of Childhood Trauma Did The Study Focus Upon?

The study focussed upon the following types of childhood trauma :

  • Abuse (emotional, sexual or physical)
  • Living in a household within which a family member who was an alcoholic or drug addict
  • Living in a household within which the mother was physically abused
  • Parental divorce/separation
  • Neglect (emotional or physical)
  • Living in a household in which a family member went to prison
  • Living in a household within which a family member suffered from mental illness

NB The study found that the more of these adverse childhood experiences the child suffered, and the more intense and long lasting they were, the greater the child’s risk of developing the problems listed above.

This website takes the ACE study as its starting point and, if you choose to explore it, you can find a wealth of information about :

UNLOVED AS A CHILD? | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS  : CLICK HERE

LET GO OF THE PAST | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS : CLICK HERE


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Enabling Fathers And Narcissistic Mothers

Enabling Fathers And Narcissistic Mothers

Parents can hurt their children both by acts of commission (what they do) and by acts of omission (what they don’t do). We have seen already how narcissistic mothers can profoundly damage their children, and, if the father does nothing to intervene to prevent such damage occurring it is an act of omission; fathers who commit such acts of omission are often termed ‘enabling fathers’ or, more simply, enablers as, by failing to intervene or take preventative or protective measures, they are enabling the mother to continue her emotional onslaught against the child with impunity, unabated.

It is not unreasonable, then, to such noninterventionist fathers as complicit in the mother’s harmful behavior, whether this be due to fear of the mother, weakness of character, simple neglect, ignorance, complacency, moral cowardice or laziness (confronting such a situation requires considerable mental energy, after all).

Indeed, my own father was one such ‘enabler’ and, for the vast majority of the time, could not, or would not, confront my narcissistic mother, preferring instead to try to humor, placate or pacify her (although he did once hit her so hard she was knocked over and heated rows were far from uncommon) and effectively challenge her about her behavior, no matter how disturbing and extreme it became.

In the end, though, unable to tolerate her any longer, he left the family home when I was eight years old and divorced her (on the grounds of her adultery – indeed, she used to taunt my father by telling him he could not satisfy her sexually) not long after, leaving me, as it were, in the lioness’ den (and, to extend the metaphor a little, the den of a lioness who was soon to savagely turn on her very own cub).

It is not at all unusual for fathers to leave the narcissistic mother, as forming a stable, healthy relationship with a narcissist is not a realistic prospect (unless the narcissist undergoes therapy ; however, it is notoriously difficult to persuade narcissists to seek therapy as they tend not to accept there is anything wrong with them  – in their minds it’s everyone who’ve got the problem).

Some fathers, however, do remain living with the narcissistic mother, but not in a relationship which is healthy ; rather, they tend to have enmeshed / codependent / highly dysfunctional relationships with the mother.

Also, if the narcissistic mother is emotionally abusive towards the child, some fathers may take the side of the mother against this child even if they know the mother to be in the wrong so as not to ‘rock the boat’ and have an easier life. This, of course, amounts to complicity. Some such fathers may even agree to physically beat the child at the mother’s behest.

Resource :


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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Basic Needs Of Children And Effect Of Their Denial

Basic Needs Of Children And Effect Of Their Denial

If we have suffered significant childhood trauma we will, inevitably, have been denied some of our basic needs. But, what exactly are the basic needs of children, and what is the effect of their absence?

The main basic needs of children include the following :

  • a sense of emotional connection to significant others
  • a sense of safety
  • a sense of their own positive qualities
  • the freedom to exercise authentic self-expression
  • an appropriate degree of autonomy
  • appropriate limits

Let’s look at each of these six basic needs of children in a little more detail :

1) A SENSE OF EMOTIONAL CONNECTION WITH SIGNIFICANT OTHERS :

Children need loving, warm, trusting relationships with significant others with whom they are able to be open about, and share, their thoughts, feelings and experiences.

2) A SENSE OF SAFETY :

Children need to live in an environment within which they feel safe including the presence of reliable and dependable parents/primary carers.

3) A SENSE OF THEIR OWN POSITIVE QUALITIES :

Children need to be able to appreciate themselves / feel good about who they are in order to be able to develop healthy self-esteem.

4) AN APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF FREEDOM TO EXERCISE AUTHENTIC SELF-EXPRESSION :

Children need to be allowed and encouraged to develop and express their own views, feelings and attitudes.

5) AN APPROPRIATE DEGREE OF AUTONOMY :

Children need to be gradually encouraged to develop a sense of autonomy as they grow up so that there are eventually able to take care of, and support, themselves independently.

6) APPROPRIATE LIMITS :

Despite children’s need to to be allowed to exercise self-expression and autonomy when appropriate (see above), they also need to learn to over ride these needs when necessary in order to integrate into society and to function effectively within it ; in order to accomplish this, it is also necessary for them to learn to tolerate feelings of frustration.

What Can Be The Effects Of Such Needs Not Being Met?

If the child fails to have these needs met, for example, due to dysfunctional parenting styles, then this child is at increased risk of developing a large range of psychological difficulties depending upon which need/s were not met and the manner in which this deprivation interacts with the particular child’s temperament ; I provide some examples below :

  • The child who grows up without being given the opportunity to develop his/her autonomy may grow up to be overly dependent upon others.
  • The child who is perpetually criticized and seldom/never praised will not develop a healthy sense of his/her own positive qualities which, in turn, is likely to result in poor self-esteem
  • A child who does not grow up feeling safe will be at increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

Generally speaking, the more needs that are not properly met, and the greater the extent to which they fail to be met, the more psychologically damaged the child is likely to become. In the most serious cases, the child may be put at risk of developing, in later life, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD).

RESOURCE :
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Don’t Doctors Ask About Childhood Trauma?

Why Don't Doctors Ask About Childhood Trauma?

Why don’t doctors ask about childhood trauma? The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study, and a very large body of research besides, has demonstrated beyond all reasonable dispute that if we have suffered significant childhood trauma we are at increased risk of suffering a large range of psychological problems and mental illnesses as adults.

So, if our psychological condition has been significantly contributed to by our childhood trauma, why, say, when we go to the doctor presenting with problems like severe depression or anxiety are we not asked about our childhoods as a matter of course? Surely the CAUSE of our problem has SIGNIFICANT IMPLICATIONS AS TO THE BEST WAY TO TREAT IT?

I myself saw numerous doctors and psychiatrists for years with extremely serious psychiatric difficulties, including depression requiring electro-convulsive shock therapy (ECT) and several spells in hospital. But was I ever asked about my childhood? No.

Why I was too stupid to bring the matter up, I can’t say ; perhaps it’s because the expectation that patients will NOT talk about such matters is implicit within the (woefully limited) parameters of the treatment culture, which tends to concentrate on the medical model (i.e. medication and ECT) and, if one’s lucky, a bit of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) might be tossed into the mix.

I suppose I should be grateful that they no longer subject patients to frontal lobotomies (which, if you’re at all interested, used to be carried out by the brain surgeon/butcher inserting a small icepick type of implement into the brain through the patient’s/hapless victim’s eye socket).

RESEARCH INTO WHY DOCTORS DON’T ASK ABOUT CHILDHOOD TRAUMA :

Happily, some research has been conducted in this area that helps us to understand why doctors don’t ask about childhood trauma. I summarize some of the main findings below :

  • many doctors are uncomfortable talking about sensitive issues surrounding childhood trauma
  • doctors’ clinical training may not have prepared them to deal with issues surrounding childhood trauma
  • some doctors may fear that if they bring up the subject of childhood trauma they may inadvertently ‘plant ideas’ in their patients’ minds (especially in the wake of publicity about ‘false memory syndrome’).
  • there is insufficient ‘in service’ training about the effects of childhood trauma
  • many doctors feel that a discussion about childhood is an inappropriate subject for initial assessments as it may make the patient feel very awkward
  • studies have found when individuals are asked whether they experienced significant childhood trauma and the answer is in the affirmative, frequently they also report that this information has never been recorded on their medical records
  • often individuals do not volunteer information about childhood trauma if not directly asked
  • some doctors may be in denial about the significance of childhood trauma due to their own childhood histories or experiences of living in a dysfunctional family
  • if the doctor knows whole family of patient may fear ‘stirring up trouble.’

Certainly, if I was again at the beginning of my own treatment, I would make sure that the doctor I was seeing was aware of my childhood history. Had I done so, I may have been spared a great deal of trouble!

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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Complex PTSD Treatment

Complex PTSD Treatment

What is the best complex PTSD treatment?

The NHS (UK) recommend that those suffering from complex PTSD undergo three stages of treatment. These are as follows :

1) STABILISATION

2) TRAUMA-FOCUSED THERAPY

3) REINTEGRATION

Let’s look at each of these a little more closely :

REINTEGRATION

NHS guidelines suggest that during the first stage, stabilsation, the individual being treated for complex PTSD may wish to focus on:

– redeveloping an ability to trust others

– reestablishing an emotional connection with friends and family

– learning to live in the present again (as opposed to staying trapped in the past ). This normally involves learning to feel safe again and reducing the level of fear that traumatic memories have hitherto provoked (often manifested in the disturbing form of nightmares and flashbacks).

The aim of this first stage of treatment is to improve the individual’s level of functioning to the point whereby s/he is able to start functioning again on a daily basis, no longer paralysed by anxiety.

TRAUMA-FOCUSED THERAPY

These include :

(The importance of engaging with an appropriately trained and experienced professional if considering these treatments is emphasized.)

REINTEGRATION

  • i.e. reintegration into society and the development of improved, more trusting relationships with others (one of the hallmarks of complex PTSD is to avoid others and self-isolate, leading to a vicious cycle driven by operant conditioning and loss of confidence).

What About Medication?

In cases whereby psychotherapy is not helpful or appropriate, the NHS (UK) suggest that antidepressants may be of benefit to some individuals.

Links :

For those who would like extremely detailed information relating to ISTSS ‘s guidelines for the treatment of complex PTSD, it is possible to download the relevant PDF from this here.

The main NHS (UK) website can be found by clicking here.

eBook :

Complex PTSD Treatment

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Social Support And Posttraumatic Growth

Social Support And Posttraumatic Growth

We are more likely to cope with trauma, overcome it and go on to experience posttraumatic growth if we have a good social support system around us. Indeed, those with access to good social support systems tend to have both a better sense of general emotional wellness (Henderson and Brown, 1988) and lower levels of depression (Lara et al, 1997) when compared to those individuals who lack social support.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Good Social Support System?

Human beings are naturally social animals and it is a basic and fundamental instinct for us to try to bond, connect and form attachments with others; the benefits we may gain from such relationships to others when we have experienced trauma include providing us with :

  • a greater sense of meaning in life
  • a greater sense of safety
  • a greater sense of belonging
  • a greater sense of affirmation / self-worth
  • someone to confide in
  • someone to advise us about coping strategies
  • someone to help us understand and process what has happened to us
  • someone who can help us look at what has happened from a new and original perspective
  • someone who can help distract us from our negative ruminations and feelings
  • someone who can help to emotionally sooth us

In fact, having good social support not only improves our psychological health, but also has benefits for our physical health such as strengthening our immune system (Kiecolt-Glaser and Glaser, 1992).

Social Support And Posttraumatic Growth

Perception Of Social Support Versus Actual Social Support :

Research has also found that even if, by any reasonable, objective measure, we are receiving adequate social support during and after traumatic periods its benefits will be greatly diminished if we do not perceive it as adequate ; for example ; if we perceive someone we are close to as being unreceptive when we confide in him/her information about our traumatic experience – irrespective of whether they actually are unreceptive – our sense of emotional well-being will be diminished (Cordova et al., 2001).

From such research we are able to infer that in order for us to have a significantly increased chance of coping with trauma and experiencing posttraumatic growth, it is not necessarily enough to receive adequate social support – we must, too, believe that those providing this support genuinely care about us.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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What Is Clinical Hypnosis?

What Is Clinical Hypnosis?

What is clinical hypnosis? In the hypnotic state, the individual becomes extremely relaxed and has an increased ability to concentrate and focus which, in turn, can allow him/her to become more receptive to, and respond more positively to, therapy.

Hypnosis, per se, is not a therapy, but, rather, a tool that can increase the effectiveness of therapies administered to the individual whilst that individual is in hypnosis.

When hypnosis is used in this way (as a medium through which other therapies are delivered), it is referred to as hypnotherapy or clinical hypnosis.

Therefore, a person is not actually treated with hypnosis, but, rather, whilst in hypnosis.

Why Might A Therapy Be More Effective When Received In The Hypnotic State ?

It has been theorized that when in hypnosis the individual enters a state of altered consciousness (see below) that, temporarily, dampens down the activity of the conscious/rational parts of the brain which, in turn, allows the therapy being received greater access to the subconscious and, therefore, makes it more likely to help the individual overcome dysfunctional thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Hypnosis And Brain Wave Studies: 

When in hypnosis, there is increasing evidence to suggest the individual has entered an altered state of consciousness. For example, there are three types of normal consciousness :

  • rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (dreaming)
  • non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep (non-dreaming sleep)
  • being awake

By using brain scanning techniques to monitor brain activity it has been found that, when in hypnosis, the brain produces a different brain-wave pattern when compared to the brain wave patterns generated by each of the above three states of normal consciousness.

What Is Clinical Hypnosis?

Which Therapies May Be Integrated With Hypnosis In Order To Augment Their Effects?

Hypnosis can be used as a tool to increase the effectiveness of various therapies and therapeutic techniques including the following:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • person-centered counselling
  • solutions focused therapy
  • cognitive analytic therapy
  • eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • therapeutic suggestions
  • exposure therapy
  • free association
  • physical and mental relaxation
  • exposure therapy

Those trained in the use of clinical hypnosis include some doctors, some psychiatrists, some psychologists, some dentists and some practitioners of various types of psychotherapy.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc, PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

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