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May Quandary: Is It Ever Okay to Break Confidentially If I Know My Client Is Dating an Abuser?

Five Clinicians Give Their Take

Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - Diedre was widowed about three years ago, but was excited to tell her therapist about a man she's started dating. She's very happy. As her therapist heard more, he realized this is the same man another client used to date, who slowly became controlling and abusive. Should Diedre's therapist share this info? Five therapists weigh in.

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The Art of Not Knowing the Answer

A Trauma Specialist Shares Her Most Therapeutic Moment

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - My very first case was the Byford family. The father was serving a six-month sentence for domestic abuse. During a home visit several months into treatment, the daughter, Laura, announced, “Dad is getting out of jail today! And he’s coming here!” My mind went blank. Her mother looked at me. Suddenly, it was as though I passed whatever strength I had to her, and she then passed it back to me.

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VIDEO: Peter Levine on Trauma Treatment's "Greatest Tool"

Tapping into the Power of the Body

Peter Levine

According to trauma specialist Peter Levine, the body is the therapist's greatest tool in helping clients understand and heal from a traumatic event. So rather than focus on the event itself, Levine asks clients to focus on how their body manifests the trauma. In this brief video clip, he shares his method.

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Supreme Testimony

What Christine Blasey Ford Could Mean for Survivors

Lauren Dockett

By Lauren Dockett - As trauma specialist Mary Jo Barrett explains, Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony has been empowering for many survivors of sexual assault. Will that change next week?

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VIDEO: When is It Trauma? Bessel van der Kolk Explains

Is Your Client Traumatized? For the Answer, Look to the Body

Bessel van der Kolk

Often we hear things from clients like “My relationship ending was so traumatic for me,” or “When my uncle passed away, I was totally traumatized.” With the word trauma being used so loosely and for such a wide range of problems, how do we know what it actually means anymore?

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VIDEO: How Symptoms Reveal the Path to Growth

IFS Developer Richard Schwartz on Befriending the Inner "Protector"

Richard Schwartz

Often, our attitudes toward anxiety symptoms are misguided, says Richard Schwartz, the originator of Internal Family Systems. By understanding responses like cold sweats and heavy breathing, for instance, as positive expressions of a wish to protect oneself, rather than simply negative symptoms, Schwartz says, trauma survivors are in a better position to begin the process of healing.

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Stop Treating Eating Disorders Like Just Bad Habits

How to Empower Clients to Heal with Parts Work

Lisa Ferentz

By Lisa Ferentz - It's unproductive to deal with an eating disorder as though it were simply a bad habit. Therapy has the greatest impact when I step away from the temptation to get into a power struggle and empower clients to do a large part of the healing work themselves.

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When Victims Victimize Others

Using Empathy to Help Abusers Make Amends

Noel Larson

By Noel Larson - Throughout my career, countless people have asked me how I can work with clients who’ve committed sexual abuse, murdered their wives, or broken their children’s bones and spirits. My answer has always been the same: all I have to do is remember and feel in my heart the traumatized children my clients once were.

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Selling Clients on Consent

...And Creating a Space for Men in the Age of #MeToo

Lauren Dockett

By Lauren Dockett - Privately shaken and sometimes concerned about their own complicity, many men are now worried about how the #MeToo movement will deepen the gulf of understanding between them and the women in their lives. But much of the secrecy and shame around sex for men and women could be mitigated by embracing a practice of consent.

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Working with Abusers and Their Families

Can Good and Evil Can Exist in the Same Person?

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - Families suffering from trauma, abuse, and neglect can begin to make the crucial distinction between a chronic state of overarousal and vigilance and "reality" only once a sense of physical and psychological safety has been established. Only after this first stage is it even possible to focus on changing dysfunctional mindsets, counterproductive behavior, and destructive family patterns.

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