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The Evolution of Trauma Treatment

Bessel van der Kolk Shares His Hope for the Future of the Field

Bessel van der Kolk

By Bessel van der Kolk - My hope for the field of trauma treatment is that we learn how to help people bring their imaginations more fully to bear on their possibilities. More recently, we’ve been exploring the capacity to rewire brains that are stuck in freeze and terror and develop a sense of self-compassion that enables people to integrate their dissociated self from the past into in a calm state of mind in the present.

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VIDEO: The Self-Compassion Approach to Trauma Treatment

Creative Strategies That Dig Deeper

Lisa Ferentz

It’s important to honor all of your client’s inner parts in therapy. But accessing them to fully engage in healing work isn’t always easy. Here, trauma therapist Lisa Ferentz explains her creative approach for helping clients access these tough-to-reach inner parts.

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VIDEO: Janina Fisher on Collaborating with Clients in Trauma Treatment

The Secret to Tapping Into Inner Resources

Janina Fisher

For many traumatized clients, even beginning to explore a traumatic event can be an act of bravery. According to therapist and trauma expert Janina Fisher, in order for clients to take this first step, they first need to be empowered. In the following video clip, she explains how to make this happen.

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My Greatest Clinical Learning Experience

Finding the "Genuine Hero" in Even Your Most Troubled Clients

Lisa Ferentz

By Lisa Ferentz - In the early days of the trauma field, clients were seen as one-dimensional bundles of dysfunction and pain, who needed to relive their trauma before progress could be made. But an increased interest in post-traumatic growth has allowed many therapists to see that insight and healing can occur not only in the midst of devastating experiences, but even because of them.

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Reclaiming Your Life After Unfathomable Trauma

A Therapist Shares Her Ordeal, and the Steps it Took to Reclaim Her Former Self

Janice Starkman Goldfein

By Janice Starkman Goldfein - On January 4, 1994, trauma became a lived reality for me. That evening, I was grabbed from behind and heard a low, menacing voice say, "If you cooperate, I won't hurt you." In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I struggled not to allow the attack to defeat me. I had to learn how to control the fear, stop the flashbacks, and handle the anger, while dealing with an overwhelming range and intensity of feelings.

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What Traumatized Children Need Most

Most Therapeutic Experiences Don't Take Place in Therapy

Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz

By Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz - While working with child survivors during the 1992 Waco siege, I found that we had a group of children that had essentially been marinated in fear. The only way we could get them the help they needed was to apply our understanding of how fear affects the brain and then consequently changes behavior. We quickly learned that people, not programs, change people.

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A New Appreciation for Human Resilience

Rich Simon on Embracing Vulnerability as Strength

Rich Simon

By Rich Simon - Clearly, therapists must always respond with empathy, understanding, and attuned clinical expertise to clients’ suffering. But in their urgency to relieve pain, therapists must not overlook the rich possibilities for health and growth within every person, without which even the most skilled clinician in the world can do nothing. In the end, all clients must, to some extent, be their own healers.

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War-Borne PTSD Enters the DSM

How Veterans Forced Mental Health to Confront the New Trauma

Mary Sykes Wylie

Before the 1970s, almost no mental health authorities imagined, much less expected and prepared for, traumatic reactions to war to emerge years after the conflict ended. But after they returned stateside, almost 50 percent of Vietnam veterans began breaking down, months or even years later. By the late 1970s, it had become obvious to many therapists that the old diagnostic system had fatal flaws. DSM-II seemed to have been written for a world in which serious trauma virtually never occurred. While the veterans were struggling for recognition on one front, another campaign was being waged---which included some of the same people---on another, to get traumatic stress back into the DSM.

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The Politics of PTSD

How a Diagnosis Battled Its Way into the DSM

Mary Sykes Wylie

During Vietnam, there were proportionately far fewer reported cases of trauma on the actual battlefield than there'd been in previous wars. The primary reason seems to have been that soldiers had one-year rotations and knew that if they could just hold themselves together for 12 months--often with a little help from their friends, marijuana and heroin--they'd be free. But after they returned stateside full of relief and happy to be alive, many of them--up to 50 percent according to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Survey of 1988--began breaking down, months or even years later. Why?

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