On November 7, Virginia voters elected Danica Roem to the Virginia House of Delegates. Roem is the first openly transgender state legislator in America. Her campaign focused on local issues, especially improving traffic problems, which resonated with voters. But she has also broken a cultural barrier that brings attention to the LBGTQ community. Her public life opens new opportunities for us to talk about transgender issues.
The experience of trauma makes a profound mark on a person. It doesn’t matter whether the injury is grave and evident, like the bruising of a battered person, or hard to see, like the emotional neglect of someone detached and withdrawn. Whatever the cause, when a person feels threatened, helpless, and unable to escape, that person knows trauma.
Within the last few weeks, I have heard of two more young people dying from heroin overdoses. Tragedies like this are becoming ever more common.
Right now, in my opinion, there is a heroin/opiate epidemic going on. It’s spanning all ages, all races, all genders, and all socioeconomic statuses! It doesn’t matter if your town has a Starbucks or a beautiful, organic farmers market.
The phrase “self-harming behavior” may call up images of troubled teenagers with cuts on their arms. But self-injury can occur for people of any age, in children, adolescents and adults, whether male or female. This is not at all a teenage fad!
From the outside, it seems puzzling that any person could develop an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating. When we see someone starving themselves or eating themselves into obesity, the temptation is to criticize or correct them: “Just stop it! Can’t you see you’re hurting yourself?”
But criticism or judgment is the last thing a person with an eating disorder needs. If we want to help people
Good cheer, happiness, family and a spirit of giving are a big part of the holiday season. But for many people, stress and loneliness are major players that upset plans to stay positive. If your tension level rises when the decor goes up, you are not alone. It is common for some people to feel more anxious or lonely as the season begins.
Holiday stress can trigger negative thinking that builds on itself. To avoid this cycle, we can take this opportunity to find new comforts and enjoy the holidays differently. We can take simple, meaningful steps for healthy self-care, and put some fun back into our celebrations.
Some of my clients have called feelings “the other f-word.”
Can feelings be scary? Yes, they can, especially if the emotions you experienced early in life felt overwhelming or were ignored. You may have a fear of emotions if no one helped you learn to regulate, comfort or understand them. You probably tried to do anything you could to not have them!
A question new clients often ask is, “How long is therapy going to take?” They are eager to feel better, heal and move forward. They want to pour out all the details of their story during the first session because they think it might help them heal trauma faster. But, because we are dealing with emotional pain or even trauma, we have to slow down and take it one step at a time.
Some people seem to believe that when it comes to trauma, size matters. We even have terminology that allows us to talk as if some types of trauma are less damaging, less serious, or matter less than others.
people will describe someone’s trauma as “Big T (Big Trauma)” or “Little T
(Little Trauma)”—and today, I’m calling for an end to this type of
Jessica Sleep Dukes is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Virginia and therapist at Brickel and Associates, LLC, in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia.
Jessica is committed to helping clients develop and enhance their natural skills and abilities to make meaningful changes in their lives. Jessica brings an empathic, strengths-based approach to promote healing and recovery. She assists clients in developing greater understanding and insight into their behavior and relationships. Jessica practices from a trauma-informed perspective and utilizes a culturally sensitive approach.
Jessica has extensive experience providing treatment to adolescents, adults, couples, and families in a variety of settings, including outpatient mental health centers and residential treatment centers. Jessica tailors therapy to meet the unique needs of each individual, couple, or family. She utilizes an integrative therapeutic approach to treat issues of depression, anxiety, substance use, grief and loss, self-harm, relationship stress, identity issues, and trauma.
Jessica incorporates evidence-based interventions, including Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing (MI). She provides a compassionate and nurturing environment to enhance the recovery journey.
Jessica is committed to professional excellence and further education. She regularly participates in trainings, workshops, and other learning opportunities to advance her clinical skills and stay current with research and scientific advances in the field.