Childhood Trauma: Food and Nutrition which may Help with Resultant Depression.

depression and nutrition

Due to the side-effects associated with anti-depressants, together with the controversy which surrounds their effectivenes, some individuals prefer to try to treat their depression in more natural ways; in relation to this, many people adjust their intake of nutrients in ways which research suggests may lift their mood. I examine the foods and nutients which may help this goal to be achieved below:

FOODS AND NUTRIENTS WHICH MAY HELP TO LIFT MOOD :

Not only does some research suggest that the foods and nutrients listed below may help lift mood when depressed, it suggests they may also make depression less likely to recur once feeling better:

1) SELENIUM : this can be found in oysters, mushrooms and Brazil nuts

2) CHROMIUM : this can be found in turkey and green vegetables

3) ZINC : this can be found in shellfish, seafood and eggs

All of the above nutients can also be bought in supplement form from chemists and health food shops. However, they should not be taken in large doses so be sure to read the relevant labels to obtain the recommended amounts to take.

4) VITAMIN B12 : this vitamin, which can also be bought as a supplement from health shops and chemists, is thought to help maintain general mental alertness and, also, help keep feelings of depression at bay. It can be found in salmon, meat, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and yeast extract.

FISH

Some scientists recommend eating fish as a way of reducing depressive symptoms. The reason for this is that some research studies have provided evidence that FISH OILS have both an ANTI-DEPRESSANT and MOOD-STABILIZING effect. However, because of the amount of fish oil which needs to be ingested, one would have to consume a vast quantity of fish. In order to rectify this problem, many companies now produce FISH OIL CAPSULES (eg OMEGA – 3) as dietry SUPPLEMENTS. These contain very concentrated fish oil. However, more research needs to be conducted in order to come to a definitive verdict on their effectiveness. One benefit of them, however, is that they have no side-effects, apart from, rarely, a mildly upset stomach.

5-HTP

Otherwise known as HYDROXTRYPTOPHAN. The body manufactures this from tryptophan (an AMINO ACID) in the diet (sources include turkey and bananas) and it is linked to the production of SEROTONIN (a neurotransmitter which I discuss in other posts – please enter ‘SEROTONIN’ into this site’s search facility if you wish to access those posts) in the brain. Depleted serotonin levels in the brain are thought to be connected with depression and insomnia. Indeed, taking supplements of 5-HTP has been linked to not only helping to treat depression and insomnia, but, also, obesity.

The Cochrane Review (2001) found two studies suggesting that 5-HTP was more effective at treating depression than placebos, but, also, concluded that more research needed to be conducted in order to reach a proper conclusion in relation to how beneficial it is.

CONCLUSION:

A lot more research needs to be conducted in order to come to any definitive solutions about just how helpful diet, nutrients and supplements are at treating mental health conditions. However, there is a vast number of people who take them and are convinced of their effectiveness.

Finally, I wish to stress that it is extremely important to speak to a doctor if you are considering coming off any prescribed medication.

 

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

Simple Questions We can Ask Ourselves to Reduce Anxiety

effects of childhood trauma

Below I have listed a set of questions we can ask ourselves when we are worried and anxious. The questions are intended to help us CHALLENGE OUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS; this technique derives from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):QUESTIONS WE CAN ASK OURSELVES WHICH HELP US TO CHALLENGE OUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS:

1) What evidence is there that the negative thought I am having is true?
What evidence is there that the negative thought I am having is not true?

2) Is the negative thought a fact based on rational and logical thinking?
Or is it influenced (distorted) by the way I am feeling (ie based upon EMOTIONAL REASONING rather than on rational thinking)?

3) Is constantly focusing on this negative thought helping me to move forward in my life? Or is focusing on the negative thought causing me unnecessary distress, hindering me and holding me back, preventing me from making a valuable contribution in life?

4) Is there a more positive way I can interpret events? Is there another perspective I can take/ Can I apply ‘out of the box’ thinking?

5) If a close friend was in the same situation, what advice and help would I give him/her? Can I apply the same sensitivity, compassion and understanding I’d show to a friend to myself? If not, why not? Am I treating myself unfairly?

6) What is the worst outcome of the situation in which I find myself? Am I over-estimating the probability of the worst happening? If the worst does happen, am I underestimating my ability to cope with such an outcome?

7) Can I change my mind-set from viewing this situation as a problem, to viewing it as a challenge? Which of these two approaches is likely to be of most benefit to me?

It is possible, of course, for us to write these questions down and remind ourselves of them when we feel particularly anxious; we can even carry them around with us if we feel so inclined! Sometimes, a simple shift of perspective can have a very liberating effect.

 

David Hosier BScHons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) : Further Treatment Options.

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

Individuals suffering from psychiatric conditions such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) find there are a vast array of therapies on offer purporting to be able to effectively treat them. The choice can seem overwhelming and confusing.

In the case of BPD, however, although many different therapists may claim that the particular therapy that they offer is beneficial, research shows that there are only a few which result in significant improvement.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one example of an effective treatment, but, as I have dealt with that in several of my other posts (just enter ‘CBT’ into this site’s search facility if you are interested in reading any of them) so will not discuss it further here. Instead, in this post I will look at the following 4 evidence-based therapies for individuals suffering from the condition of BPD. These are:

1) DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOUR THERAPY (DBT)

2) MENTALIZATION BASED THERAPY (MBT)

3) TRANSFERENCE-FOCUSED PSYCHOTHERAPY (TFP)

4) SCHEMA THERAPY

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOUR THERAPY –

this was the first therapy specifically designed to treat BPD. Research into its effectiveness have yielded encouraging result : it reduces the risk of the individual who undergoes it from attempting or commiting suicide, and, further, after a year of being treated with DBT many show a significant improvement in their condition (although, despite this improvement, they may still feel substantial emotional distress; due to this fact, it is clear treatment programs lasting significantly longer than a year need to be implemented and assessed).

What does DBT involve? The therapy uses a combination of psychotherapy and group therapy. The group therapy helps the individual recognise that his/her intense emotions often get out of control, in a destructive way, and teaches techniques related to how these emotions may be regulated (controlled) by the individual who suffers them.

DBT is strongly influenced by Buddhist philosophy, and, drawing from it, encourages the individual to accept his/her distress (see my post entitled ‘Why Fighting Anxiety can Make It Worse’ for more on why such an approach is effective); it also encourages the individual being treated to meditate to calm down the inner emotional storms that may often rage within them.

In conclusion, it is worth saying that although much research suggests that DBT is very effective for treating BPD, because it is complex, and uses techniques from several other therapies, it is difficult for researchers to know exactly which elements of the therapy are the effective ones. More research is necessary to answer that question.

MENTALIZATION BASED THERAPY –

MBT, like DBT, was designed specifically to treat borderline personality disorder. MBT is largely based upon the idea that the core reason why individuals develop BPD is that they EXPERIENCE PROBLEMS EARLY IN LIFE IN CONNECTION WITH HOW THEY BONDED, AND RELATED TO, THEIR PRIMARY CAREGIVERS, which, in turn, leads to them experiencing further DIFFICULTIES WITH FORMING AND MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS IN LATER LIFE. MBT seeks to help the individual suffering from BPD empathize with others, ‘put themselves in their shoes’, and develop awareness and understanding in relation to how their volatile emotional outbursts affect others (people with BPD tend to have an impaired ability to do this if they do not seek out trewatment).

So far research into the effectiveness of MBT has been encouraging. It has been found to:

– reduce hospitalizations

– reduce suicidal behaviours

– improve day-to-day functioning

TRANSFERENCE-FOCUSED PSYCHOTHERAPY (TFP) –

this type of therapy is based upon the theory that individuals who suffer from BPD often have severe difficulties with their perception of interactions with others. Following on from this observation, the theory also assumes that the BPD sufferer will tend, too, to misinterpret his/her relationship with the therapist. In order to try to correct these chronic misperceptions and misinterpretations relating to the individual’s personal interactions, the therapist helps the individual gain awareness of what is going wrong with his/her interpersonal interactions and teach him/her strategies and techniques which help to correct the problem. Research into the effectiveness of TFP continues.

SCHEMA THERAPY –

SCHEMAS are deeply embedded CORE BELIEFS ABOUT ONESELF, OTHERS and THE WORLD IN GENERAL; these deeply held beliefs are LAID DOWN IN CHILDHOOD. The therapy aims to change the BPD sufferer’s NEGATIVE, MALADAPTIVE and UNHELPFUL SCHEMAS into more POSITIVE, ADAPTIVE and HELPFUL ONES.

Early research into the effectiveness of this type of therapy suggests that it can significantly improve quality of life and reduce BPD symptoms. Whilst these findings are encouraging, it is necessary to carry out further research into the therapy’s effectiveness.

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

Childhood Trauma: Does ‘Multiple-Personality Disorder’ Exist?

multiple personality disorder

does multiple personality disorder exist?

I have written other posts on DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS of which one is DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER, commonly referred to as ‘MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER’. I will not repeat what I’ve already said in other posts, but, essentially, DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS refer to the idea that, under enormous stress, some people will ‘cut off’ (dissociate) from unbearably painful reality (as they perceive it) as a psychological defense mechanism.

In the interests of fairness, I have decided, in this particular post, to look at arguments AGAINST one specific dissociative disorder, namely DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER (D.I.D), or, MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER. My own position, for what it’s worth, is one of neutrality.

Although there is a sound and quite compelling theory behind why D.I.D should occur, together with research evidence which purports to support its existence and the idea it is often caused by severe childhood trauma, critics point out weaknesses in this ‘supportive’ research evidence. For example, whilst a correlation has been shown to exist between its reported existence and experiences of childhood trauma also reported by the sufferer, it has been pointed out that a correlation does not necessarily imply causality (as all beginner statisticians know). In other words, just because a person who has reported suffering from D.I.D and also reports having suffered severe childhood trauma, this does not prove that the latter has CAUSED the former.

Some critics go a step furter in their skepticism, and challenge the idea that D.I.D. exists at all. They draw our attention to the fact that much of the ‘evidence’ (I use inverted commas in representation of the critics’ stance) for its existence derives from patient self-reports, as does the ‘evidence’ that they’ve suffered severe childhood trauma. Often, such ‘evidence’ goes entirely uncorroborated.

multiple personality disorder

It has been suggested, even, that in order to support their own theoretical frame-works (which they may have a vested interest in preserving) some psychotherapists may put the idea of the condition into the patient’s head, especially if they use hypnosis as one of their therapeutic tools (the suspicion being the idea of the condition’s existence is given to the patient through suggestion – individuals tend to be, after all, particularly suggestible whilst under hypnosis.

Furthermore, it has been stated that the media must bear some responsibility; many novels and films, after all, have plot lines revolving around a character with ‘multiple personality disorder’. It is said that this does not only fuel the idea of its existence in the public’s imagination, but it may even give certain disturbed individuals ‘the idea’ and they may, in some sense at least, mimic the symptoms they have learned about from such media. Such critics have even suggested the individual purporting to have the condition is doing so in a desperate bid for attention.

I must stress again that my own position is neutral, and, in the interests of such neutrality, I shall conclude by pointing out that very recent research has supported the genuineness of the condition. These researchers have also clearly stated that D.I.D. is likely to serve an adaptive and protective function as a defense-mechanism against intolerable mental anguish, as suggested in my opening paragraph.

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

Why We Worry.

Stop worrying

why we worry

Other posts in this category have already dealt with how early life experience of trauma can contribute to us becoming anxious adults, and, also, that the type of negative thinking (cognitive) style we may have developed as a result of the early trauma can perpetuate symptoms of depression and anxiety. But what are the other causes of excessive worrying and what are the other ways of dealing with the problem? It is to this question I now turn:

Stop worrying

CAUSES OF ANXIETY / EXCESSIVE WORRY:

1) OUR GENETIC INHERITANCE: It seems we can inherit a predisposition towards anxiety genetically. This means, for example, if we have a parent who is very anxious, all else being equal, we are more likely to become anxious ourselves due to our genetic inheritance. (Also, of course, if we have a very anxious parent, we are more likely to develop anxious responses due to ‘learned behaviour’ – ie modelling our behavioural reponses on those of the anxious parent). However, the key word here is ‘predisposition’; in other words, having an anxious parent will not guarantee that we, ourselves, will become anxious adults, but, rather, we will be more vulnerable to this happening if other factors also affect us in life (such as those detailed below):

2) LIFE EXPERIENCES: If we have suffered the experience of early life trauma, the damage done by this can be compounded (made worse) by going on to experience yet further trauma in later life. It is particularly unfortunate, then, that early life trauma can in itself create problems for us in later life, thus increasing the probability that further trauma will strike (which is one reason, amongst many others, why early therapeutic intervention is crucial for those affected by childhood trauma).

3) DRUGS: It is not just a side-effect of many illicit drugs which can create anxiety conditions; some prescribed drugs, too, can cause anxiety as a side effect. It is, of course, always important to ask doctors about possible unwanted effects of the medications they may prescribe.

4) INTERNAL CONFLICTS: Sometimes we behave in ways which CONFLICT with our own ideals and values, or the ideals and values we have INTERNALISED from our upbringing and culture (even if we have only internalized them on an unconscious level). Freud believed we all have such internal conflicts, a price he thought was paid for living in a ‘civilized’ society, in which we are compelled to repress many natural human instincts (for those who are interested, you may wish to investigate further Freud’s view of how the ‘Id’ (the name he gave to our instinctual self/basic impulses) and the ‘Superego’ (the name he gave to our conscience/moral selves, which develops due to learning from parents, teachers, society, culture etc) may be constantly ‘at war’ with each other.

Therapists who place emphasis on the link between INTERNAL CONFLICTS and ANXIETY tend to recommend what is known as PSYCHODYNAMIC PSYCHOTHERAPY.

5) NEUROLOGICAL FACTORS: This refers to how the brain we possess is physically set up or ‘wired’ Some of us are, it seems, ‘wired’ in such a way that our ‘internal alarm systems’ are highly sensitive. I have discussed in other posts how the brain’s physical ‘wiring’ can be affected by the experience of early trauma.

ADVERSE EFFECTS OF WORRY :

The harmful effects of worry, quite apart from it being a painful state of mind in per se which stops us enjoying the present (many also worry about the fact that their worrying is spoiling their lives, thus adding an extra, even more superfluous, layer of suffering – this phenomenon is sometimes referred to as METAWORRY), include :

insomnia (e.g. trouble falling asleep. waking too early and being unable to get back to sleep, shallow, unrefreshing, broken sleep and nightmares) ; increased risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) / complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) ; impairment of the immune system (and, therefore, of disease and premature death).

METHODS THAT RESEARCH SUGGESTS CAN BE USEFUL FOR REDUCING WORRY :

1 Mindfulness

2. Accept worry, rather than fight it.

3. Distracting activities

4. Setting aside a 30 minute ‘worry period’ each day. This suggestion comes from Penn University, based upon their research. According to the researchers it can help if, when a worry enters are head we :

a) identify and acknowledge it

b) decide upon a time and place to think about the worry

c) if the worry returns outside of the planned 30 minute ‘worry period’, remind self you will think about it later

d) use the ‘worry period’ proactively and efficiently, focusing on solutions.

5. Physical exercise.

RESOURCES:

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

The Gifted Child : Possible Traumatic Consequences

gifted children

It is certainly not true for every gifted child, but some are at increased risk of ADJUSTMENT PROBLEMS and consequently, of unhappiness. Problems, research shows, may develop in connection with the following:

extreme sensitivity
– alienation
– uneven development
– perfectionism
– role conflict
– inappropriate environments
– adult expectations
– self-definition

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

INTENSE SENSITIVITY:

Because highly the gifted child has a high level of internal responses they are often INTENSELY SENSITIVE. Whilst this can certainly have its advantages, it can also EXACERBATE THE NORMAL PROBLEMS OF GROWING UP. For instance, the child’s intelligence may lead him/her to be unusually sensitive to social cues and may, for example, pick up on subtle signals leading him/her to sense rejection where it may not have been intended.

His/her sensitivity may lead him/her to respond strongly to what other children of the same age may well regard as trivial and unimportant; the other children may then ridicule and deride the child for what they perceive as his/her over-reactions.The child may then go on to form the view that there is something wrong with him/her and start to increasingly believe he/she are odd, leading to self-consciousness, low self-esteem and low social confidence. Importantly, also, the child may well pick up on society’s hypocrisy and social injustice very early on in his/her life, leading to feelings of cynicism and despair far earlier than others are likely to develop such feelings.

ALIENATION:

The child’s high intelligence and gifts may result in him/her relating to other children the same age as him/her in a manner more like that of an adult than that of a child. This can lead to problems with social integration. If he/she is not accepted by the other children this may lead him/her to socially withdraw. In turn, this can hinder development of social skills which can then lead to the child being labelled as ‘odd’ or ‘weird’. If the gifted child then INTERNALIZES such labels (ie. the labels lead to the child believing he/she is as the labels describe him/her), social isolation and eccentricity may result.

UNEVEN DEVELOPMENT:

Whilst the gifted child’s intelligence is very high, his/her emotional development is likely to be at a normal level. However, adults may (unreasonably) expect the child to have high emotional maturity because of his/her high level of intellectual development. When the child then has the normal emotional tantrums that most children of his/her age have, he/she may be WRONGLY LABELLED AS HAVING A BEHAVIORAL PROBLEM.

problems_faced_by_gifted_children

PERFECTIONISM:

The high praise the gifted child will inevitably receive from school teachers etc. can lead to the child setting him/herself excessively high standards. He/she may become a perfectionist and perceive he/she has failed even when, objectively speaking, he/she has actually performed exceedingly well, and, therefore, when he/she gets the objectively accurate feedback, he/she may come to start distrusting it.

ROLE CONFLICT:

If the highly gifted child is male, he may well be in a school in which the prevailing culture means it is the boys who are ‘macho’ and good at sport etc. who obtain the approval and admiration of their peers. If the gifted child happens, for example, to be more interested in intellectual pursuits, such as poetry or chess, this can lead to ridicule and bullying.

INAPPROPRIATE ENVIRONMENTS:

The highly intelligent and gifted child will often find that the school year group he/she is in is not challenging enough and the pace of the learning is unsuitable. This can lead to frustration, withdrawal and behavior problems.

ADULT EXPECTATIONS:

The gifted child may find him/herself pushed very hard by his/her parents and by the teachers of every subject he/she is taking. In the reverse situation to the one described above, here the child finds he/she is unable to satisfy all these demands and is unable to put in the extra effort expected in relation to such a large array of subjects. This can result in the child’s OWN SPECIAL AREA OF INTEREST being overlooked; indeed, it may well be better if the child focuses the extra effort mostly in just his/her favored area.

SELF-DEFINITION:

The very gifted and intelligent child will tend to have an INTENSELY ANALYTICAL approach to life; this can result in early, highly critical self-analysis. When coupled with his/her perfectionism and the unreasonable expectations of adults, this can lead to identity problems.

 

Why Gifted Children May Be Mistakenly Believed To Have A Diagnosable Condition

Certain characteristics of gifted children can be misinterpreted as signs of a diagnosable condition ; this can sometimes lead them to being misdiagnosed with, for example:

– Asperger’s syndrome

– Oppositional defiance disorder

– Bipolar disorder

– ADD

– ADHD

– Obsessive compulsive disorder

– Narcissistic personality disorder

misdiagnosis_of_gifted_children

Examples of specific behaviors / qualities that some gifted children may display,  certain constellations of which might lead them to being referred to psychiatric services and, possibly, following such a referral, being given a mistaken psychiatric label, are listed below :

– high intelligence but low common sense

high sensitivity

– intense emotional outbursts

– displays of extreme frustration when obstacles stand in the way of the child obtaining his/her goals

– very disorganized

– easily distracted

– difficulties relating to peers, prefers to be alone or with adults

very sensitive to noise and to bright light

– does not need very much sleep

– prone to very intense and vivid dreams

– prone to nightmares / night terrors

– self-absorbed

– self-obsessed

– poor social skills

– always asking questions

– often lost in daydreams

– prone to defiance / challenging and arguing against rules and authority

– antisocial attitude

– prone to outbursts of intense anger

– obsession with the concept of ‘fairness’

– early preoccupation with ethical/moral/philosophical/existential/metaphysical concerns

N.B. Of course, despite the possibility of mistaken diagnoses being given to gifted children, it is important to keep in mind that some gifted children do have diagnosable conditions such as those mentioned at the start of this article.

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

How to Cope with Difficult Memories, Part One.

intrusive_memories
https://childhoodtraumarecovery.com/2013/04/20/exciting-early-research-findings-on-the-medication-propranolol-a-beta-blocker-effectiveness-of-treating-symptoms-of-trauma/

In a previous post, I wrote about traumatic memories and talked about how psychologists have divided them into two types:

1) Flashbacks
2) Intrusive memories

Such memories can be very painful and emotionally distressing, and, according to Ehlers et al. (2010), three main factors need to be considered when aiming to eliminate, or, at least, reduce the negative impact of, these kinds of memory. They identified the three factors as follows :

  1. Becoming aware of what is triggering the memories
  2. Understanding how the individual is interpreting the memories
  3. Identifying and understanding behavioral and cognitive responses to the memories

With this in mind, let’s look at strategies which we can implement to help manage our problem memories:

1) Flashbacks: strategies which are helpful in managing them:

There are three main ways which can help us to achieve this:

a) PLANNED AVOIDANCE
b) ‘GROUNDING’ TECHNIQUES (which act as DISTRACTORS)
c) THOROUGH REVIEW OF THE FLASHBACK (this technique is connected to the psychological technique known as DESENSITISATION – by repeatedly exposing oneself to the feared object, or, in this case, memory, gradually weakens its negative psychological impact)

intrusive_memories

PLANNED AVOIDANCE: this technique involves avoiding TRIGGERS that, by experience, we know trigger our traumatic memories. This can provide valuable ‘breathing space’ until we feel ready to try to process and make sense of our memories, usually with the help of a psychotherapist. In order to use this technique, it is necessary, of course, to, first, spend some time thinking about what our personal triggers are.

GROUNDING TECHNIQUES: this technique is based upon DISTRACTION; the rationale behind it is that it is impossible to focus on two different things at the same time. So, the idea of the technique is to strongly focus on something neutral, or, better still, something pleasant – the brain, when we do this, will be unable to focus on the memory which was giving rise to distress and emotional pain.

It does not really matter what we choose to focus on in order to distract us – it might even be, say, the chair in which we sit: what is its colour, its shape, its texture and feel to the touch, the material from which it is made…etc…etc..? I know this sounds rather silly, but, if we concentrate on it like this for a while, almost as if we were carrying out a forensic examination (think Poirot or Sherlock Holmes), it can act as a powerful, temporary distractor when we feel, potentially, we could be overwhelmed by our thoughts and memories.

We can implement the grounding technique by using what are known as ‘GROUNDING OBJECTS’ – this term refers to physical objects (ideally, easily transportable, so, a full sized model of, say, Stompy the Elephant, for instance, might not be such a great idea). But, seriously, it could be something as simple as a shell from the sea-side – it can really be anything, just so long as it evokes a feeling of safety and comfort. When feeling distressed, the object can be held and looked at with the intense focus referred to above in the description of the grounding technique. Also, as Proust helpfully pointed out, aromas can be very evocative – something relaxing such as lavender could be used.

As well as using grounding objects, we can also use what are known as ‘GROUNDING IMAGES’. This involves thinking of a place in which we feel safe, secure and comforted. It is a good idea to make the image as intense and detailed as possible (although people’s ability to visualize varies considerably – I’m hopeless at visualizing). If you are able to visualize it in such a way as to allow you to mentally interact with it (e.g. imagine walking around in the location you are imagining) so much the better. To get to the safe imaginary place in your mind, it is also useful to have what is known as a ‘LINKING IMAGE’; again, as this is an imaginary way of linking (getting) to the ‘location’ it can be anything; for example, when feeling distressed, you could imagine yourself ‘floating away’ to your ‘safe place’. Once mentally ‘located’ in the safe place, it is again helpful to imagine then ‘place’ as intensely as possible, using our old friend the GROUNDING TECHNIQUE, so that it almost feels you are really there, where NOTHING CAN HARM YOU.

It is also possible to employ the assistance of what are referred to as “GROUNDING PHRASES‘. These can be very simple, such as “I am strong enough to deal with this, I always get through it’, or, even more simply, ‘I’m OK’. We can try to bring these phrases to mind and repeat them to ourselves when we are feeling distressed.

There is even a technique known as ‘GROUNDING POSITIONS’. This, very simply, refers to altering our body’s position to produce a psychological benefit; for some, this might be standing up straight with shoulders back to produce a feeling of greater confidence; for others it might be curling up in bed in embryo position to produce a feeling of greater safety and security. Such techniques, whilst, possibly, sounding vaguely silly, can be surprisingly effective.

I will continue looking at how we can help ourselves cope with difficult memories in part TWO, starting with ‘c’ above: a THOROUGH REVIEW OF FLASHBACKS.

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

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