When someone has a mental health issue or illness, therapists look to a diagnosis, so we can better understand it, gather information about it and treat it precisely as mental health professionals.
However, sometimes the terms themselves may add to the challenges in working with the patient. I admit, I’m troubled by the diagnostic term borderline personality disorder (BPD). The negative traits and pathologizing language usually associated with this term make it hard to use the terminology or diagnosis without also being extremely detrimental to the client. These kinds of terms can then worsen the problem of the stigma associated with mental illness, which we all have to confront. When we use certain terms, we may unwillingly subject people to prejudice, judgment and stigma that can prevent them from getting help, receiving compassion, and seeking out a trauma-informed approach to treatment. This is not okay!
» Read more about: A Compassionate Look at “Borderline Personality Disorder” From a Trauma-Informed Lens »
by Robyn E. Brickel, M.A., LMFT and Emily Sanders, LPC
On November 7, 2017, 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.
» Read more about: A Compassionate Guide to Talking about LBGTQ 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and evident, like the bruising of a battered person, or hard to see, like the emotional neglect of someone detached and withdrawn.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.
» Read more about: To Heal Trauma, Free Your Most Compassionate Self »
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.
» Read more about: Why Compassion is Vital in Treating Opiate Addiction »
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!
» Read more about: Understanding Self-Harming Behavior: Healing with Self-Care and Compassion »
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
» Read more about: Why People with Eating Disorders Need Our Compassion »
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.
» Read more about: How to Ease Holiday Stress With Self-compassion »
What happens when children witness disaster in the news, movies, or real life? It’s only natural for them to feel worried, unsafe, and scared. Adults could feel this way too. Children’s television host Fred Rogers explained how his mother taught him to restore his own sense of safety and stability when witnessing a catastrophe:
“Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers…. That’s why I think that if news programs could make a conscious effort of showing rescue teams… anybody who is coming into a place where there’s a tragedy, to be sure to include that. Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”
I can’t stress enough the importance of even one safe relationship in the life of someone who experiences trauma.
» Read more about: How People Heal From Trauma, Thanks to Helpers »
*Spoiler warning: This article reveals the general storylines of Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody*
Have you seen the film Rocketman yet? I hope you do! Here’s why I think it’s a beautiful movie that everyone should see. Like the film Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman provides a powerful example of how attachment trauma in childhood can fuel a cycle of shame, pain, and addiction. Even better, it also reveals a pathway to recovery. Rocketman is trauma-informed because it helps us understand how emotional injuries impact a trauma survivor’s behavior and what that person needs for growth and healing. Through compassion, support and reparative relationships, healing is possible.
» Read more about: 7 Powerful Trauma-Informed Lessons from Rocketman »
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!
» Read more about: Feelings: The Other F-Word for Trauma Survivors »