A Compassionate Look at “Borderline Personality Disorder” From a Trauma-Informed Lens

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!

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A Compassionate Guide to Talking about LBGTQ Issues

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.

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To Heal Trauma, Free Your Most Compassionate Self

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and evident, like the bruising of a battered person, or hard to see, like the emotional neglect of someone detached and withdrawn.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.

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Why Compassion is Vital in Treating Opiate Addiction

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.

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Understanding Self-Harming Behavior: Healing with Self-Care and Compassion

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!

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Why People with Eating Disorders Need Our 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

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How to Ease Holiday Stress With Self-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.

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Why It’s Important to Identify as a “Trauma Survivor”

My clients aren’t running around town wearing “I’m a trauma survivor” t-shirts.

Of course they aren’t. Who wants to announce that bad things happened to them? No one!

And yet, unfortunately, many live with the aftereffects of trauma every day and don’t know it.

Trauma is what happens to your nervous system after you’ve felt unsafe and scared, and powerless to escape or protect yourself.

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What to Do About Suicidal Thoughts in a Pandemic

Who knew when the year started we’d be separated from loved ones for months? And here we are, canceling celebrations, work and vacation plans, and not even hugging our friends. We are facing more stress – financial, emotional, social – than anyone could have imagined. We haven’t seen the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health yet. But as therapists, we know that as chronic stress continues, more people will experience depression and even suicidal thoughts.

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How to Deal with Overwhelm In a Pandemic (Hint: Check Your Window of Tolerance)

Many people are feeling pushed past their limits these days. Does it feel like you have a short fuse, get upset easily, or worry a lot – more than you used to? You may see others getting frustrated, cry, or blow up over small things. Do you want to hide from the world? Is it all too much? Feeling okay through stressful situations is possible when you can widen your window of tolerance of emotions.

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