Exposure Therapy is Harming Our Vets

0vetThis post is intentionally controversial. Rather, this post asserts my position firmly and you’re welcome to disagree with me.

A 2013 episode of 60 Minutes discussed treatments being used to treat trauma (PTSD) in veterans. I am disgusted at re-traumatization as a “cure.” If you were raped, would you want to relive rape until you were desensitized or would you rather an alternative that worked faster and involved none of that painful reliving?

Here’s what I know:

  1. There is no need to relive trauma or guilt in order to clear it.
  2. Trauma does not need to be remembered in order to be cleared.
  3. There are painless ways to get rid of the trauma and its effects.
  4. Effective Therapy works quickly, often in just a few sessions.
  5. There are many qualified therapists around the US and in the UK. Click here for a referral to a Rapid Resolution Therapist.
  6. Substance abuse is correlated with trauma at the rate of 70%.
  7. There is a cure for trauma, despite what the VA is telling our vets.

Save a life, refer a veteran for GOOD help. I want better for veterans, for society, for all of us. Veterans account for 22 suicides a day. Is it any wonder when this is the treatment they’re offered? It’s unconscionable.

These are my informed opinions; form your own opinion. Here is a link to the article at Psychology Today. And here is a video clip from the 60 Minutes show. These techniques are still being used – and now with Virtual Reality!

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Good Kids; Yes, Even Yours

0Bubble_Wrap_Your_Kid_Cover_for_KindleAvoid arguments with your child and encourage compliance by scaling the number of choices down by the age and stage of your child. For children under 10, 2 options will be sufficient. Lay out tomorrow’s clothes and ask, “Would you rather wear the brown pants or the green ones?” As your child ages, so do the decisions. “Would you rather have the Spiderman backpack or the Dora one?”

Set a pattern for narrowing things down to 2 choices and choosing between them. This helps to avoid arguments such as “I want them all” when he or she knows you will only allow a choice of 2, and then only 1 of those 2 items. You can counter with, “These are all great ideas for your friend’s birthday gift. Narrow it down to 2 and I can help you choose between them.” And then help him or her decide with a statement such as “Those are both great gifts for your friend’s birthday! Which one do you think he would like better?”

As your child becomes a preteen and a teenager and wants to do more things for him or herself, continue limiting choices in the pattern you have already set by saying things like, “You may attend the party. Would you rather have us pick you up or will you get a ride home?” And continue that narrowing process as you help him or her pick a college by asking if he or she would rather be in-state or out-of-state, in a cold climate or a warm climate, at a party school or a serious one, at a school where friends will be attending or on his or her own, in the dorms or in an apartment? This process is a lifelong skill to narrow options until a satisfactory choice is made.

Author and psychologist Wendy Mogel writes, “Creativity blossoms when it faces limits. A sonnet is fourteen lines, a haiku just three. When water is allowed to sprinkle it loses pressure, but when it is channeled through a hose the flow is more powerful.”

For more parenting tips like this pick up Bubble Wrap Your Kids by Autumn Hahn at Amazon.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Anxiety in Others

00micQuestion: How can I enjoy my visit with my friend, who is often plagued by anxiety so badly that he makes plans, but then can’t or won’t leave the house? On past trips, I’ve been so frustrated by his seeming ambivalence to go out with me that I’ve wanted to leave early. I’ve gotten angry and upset and it ruined my visit. I want to have a different experience this time, but don’t know if things will be any different on his part.

Answer: Reframe the situation. Your friend likely has social anxiety, generalized anxiety, or agoraphobia. All of these are treatable conditions. However, you simply want to work within his parameters while still enjoying his company and controlling the feelings within yourself.

Imagine your friend is the emcee of a play. His job is to announce the play, thank you for coming, do the introduction. He is on stage, holding a microphone, with a velvet curtain behind him, hiding the actors. You are sitting in the audience with the other theater goers. The theater lights come up and he says “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m very sorry, but there is a delay. Please bear with us.” There is a rumble in the crowd as people murmur to one another. He leaves the stage and comes back 5 minutes later stating the lights are having a problem and it will be about 10 more minutes before they are fixed, to please excuse the further delay. Another rumble and some groaning as people express their upset to one another. 10 minutes more and he reappears. He says, “the lighting problem is more complicated then we initially thought and it doesn’t look like we can solve it in just a few minutes. We will be happy to refund you or give you tickets to a later performance, if you will be a little patient as you leave, we’ll get everyone satisfied as you file out.”

People in the audience are visibly upset now. They are complaining about the wait and the inconvenience. They shout things like “just do the play, we can see,” and “who cares about the lighting,” and “the show must go on,” and “we got all dressed up for this.” The man on stage, your friend, looks off to the side where the director is shaking his head, though you can’t see him, and says “I’m sorry, but we have to cancel this performance. Everything must be just right.”

Your friend’s job is simply to introduce the play, and to stall when needed, but not to determine if the play will or will not be seen. The director, unseen, un-blamed, makes those decisions. If everything is not just so, the director says “stall” or “cancel”, not the emcee.

So it has been with your friend. He desires to be with you, to keep the plans you have made together, but the director, behind the curtain, is saying that it will not be possible at this time as things are not perfect, and must be made so before further action can take place.

Imagine, now, another ending to the same scene. Your friend has stalled the audience twice at the director’s insistence. He goes back out to tell the audience that the play is cancelled and refunds or later tickets are going to be issued immediately. The audience, this time, reacts with disappointment, but understanding. They still murmur to each other and are saying “that’s a bummer,” and “I was really looking forward to this, but I guess we can come back tomorrow night,” and “aw, man,” and “I get it; the lights play a part in the feel of the play.” How, now, does the emcee feel? Still torn, but not persecuted.

The answer, then, in how to work with someone who is responding to an unseen director, is to be a good audience member. Practice patience and empathy. And your friend, he’ll feel much better, too, which will cause him to rebound faster than if you were angry and upset with him. Remake plans and notice the change in yourself. You won’t feel like your visit is a loss as you won’t be so angry and upset. Reframe and regroup.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

The Worst Thing About Being a Therapist

0drownFor me, the worst thing about being a therapist is seeing people in pain who are not  yet willing or ready to make a change. This includes people who resonate with the following statements:

  • I don’t think change is possible.
  • I’ve had these symptoms so long, they must be permanent.
  • Therapy can only take me so far.
  • Therapy hasn’t fixed it before, so it can’t.
  • I am my diagnosis.
  • If I’m not sick/mentally ill/in pain, who am I?

These statements are all arguable because the right therapy, the right techniques and therapist for an individual can overcome all of that.

I love proving these statements false! I love when a client comes in who has tried several different types of therapy with a variety of therapists and then discovers me, we’re a good fit, and we work together to clear up the issue. They get better and they are both delighted and surprised. This is my favorite feeling.

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https://lasting-impact.tumblr.com/

And when I see people in pain, living with their symptoms, managing, getting by, doing what they have to, and still experiencing the symptoms, it breaks my heart. I came across the Lasting Impact Photo Campaign recently and it made me sad, not because there is a prevalence of sexual abuse, which is a thing we know, but because these persons have not overcome their trauma yet and are still experiencing the pain of that trauma. This is what breaks my heart. These persons are still victims, still living with, managing, trying, and hurting. I want to sit with them and say “There is a good fit for you. There is a right technique, right therapist, who you will connect with and overcome this. You can be rid of your symptoms forever. You can live again. You can be triumphant over that abuse that you suffered.”

Trauma is an inappropriately strong association is built between the activating stimulus and the body’s response. Good therapy breaks that association, permanently, without reliving the experience.

  • Every time I ____, I then ____.
  • Every time I sleep, I have nightmares.
  • Every time I go to that location, I have a panic attack.
  • Every time I see bearded men, I get nauseous.
  • Every time it thunders, I cower.

Are you ready to explore what change could look like in your life? Are you ready to get closer to change? Are you ready for change? Let’s talk. Call me at 954-612-9553.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Communicating with Infants

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My Mom always treated children like tiny people, because they are. With your infant, when in doubt, do the following, according to my Mom.

My Mom loves babies, both my parents do. Mom always said, babies can’t talk, but they want to, so they cry. And when they cry, do the following, in this order:

  1. Pick them up.
  2. Alter their view (laying/sitting, direction).
  3. Offer them attention.
  4. Offer them food.
  5. Change their diaper.
  6. Take all their clothes off.
  7. Submerge them in water.

I always thought it was a bit of a strange list until I asked one day and she explained.

Pick them up because maybe their clothes are folded under them in an uncomfortable way, or their sock is crooked. Think of the hundreds of tiny adjustments you make to your hair, your clothes, your glasses every day. Babies are incapable of brushing a stray hair from their forehead that is annoying them.

Alter their view from sitting to laying down, from laying down to sitting, from sitting to standing. Face them a different direction. Maybe the sun is in their eyes or they’re getting hot, or they just want to fidget. Adults do this all the time through greater motor control by tapping a foot or twirling a pencil.

Offer them attention because they’re bored or anxious or curious about what you’re saying or doing and want to participate. Allow them to participate, at least through proximity. Offer some mental stimulation and a smile, even if you don’t feel like it.

Offer them food because maybe that cry means “I could go for a snack right now.”

Change their diaper, and this should be an obvious reason. Even if a diaper was not soiled, Mom never skipped this step because “if the thigh is creased from the diaper or the genitals are folded in an uncomfortable position, wouldn’t you want that fixed right away, and not just when there was a mess?” If you’re thinking of the expense (and cost the the environment) of throwing away “perfectly good” disposable diapers, Mom never used them, and with my son, I rarely used them. You can absolutely reuse cloth diapers that are not soiled. [I won’t get on any soap box about cloth diapers, but they’re a great idea, not only for the environment, but also you’ll change the baby more often and there is less rash and other problems as a result.]

Take all their clothes off because something may be pinching, twisted, or in some way uncomfortable. Or maybe they’re hot or sweaty. Or maybe they’ll just enjoy the breeze. My parents were naturalists, and I am almost surprised this didn’t come higher on the list. It does have to feel strange for babies, used to the nude floating in the womb to come into contact with so many textures so close to their skin.

Submerge them in water because it’s what they know and it’s good for each of us to connect with the elements. This can be a quick sink-bath or a dip in the ocean, but she said a person in water was a content person. After all, why do so many vacations take place on a beach?

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Being Out in an Unaccepting Family

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In a therapists’ group I belong to, someone asked what to say to a teenager who had recently come out to their family, but the family was unable to accept the information. I can only speak for myself:

The world is a tough place. It would be nice if we all “got it” that everyone is just trying to get through their day and feel love and support, and wouldn’t it be nice if we all provided that love and support to one another? But it’s not so. For most people, you can turn a blind eye and walk away. but for some people, you have to learn to work within their system. For a teenager, living at home, this is certainly the case. Continue reading “Being Out in an Unaccepting Family”