Author Archives: Robyn E. Brickel, MA, LMFT

The Importance of Gratitude When You Have to Face Trauma Today

This gratitude practice does more than uplift. It is a mental health tool to help us hold and process emotions that may follow trauma.


You might be standing in a room with hundred-dollar bills blowing everywhere, but if you can’t catch any, or even notice them, you won’t have any extra money in your pocket. Gratitude works the same way.

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

How being a trauma survivor can be empowering

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

suicidal thoughts

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. Continue reading

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

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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How Are You Coping With Life at the Moment?

coping using a window of tolerance

We’re all facing a lot of stress these days. How are you coping? I am both struggling and learning. The health crisis and the crises of racial injustice, violence and protest in our country are challenges and opportunities for us all to learn about staying healthy. This includes mental health.

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Northern Virginia Family Practice Virtual Town Hall: Be Well Virginia

On May 7, 2020, Robyn was a guest at the Northern Virginia Family Practice town hall. This meeting took place during the COVID-19 epidemic and Robyn was on the panel with Dr. Jennifer Santoro. Robyn and Dr. Santoro shared their insights on the psychological impact the recent COVID-19 pandemic has had on our community as well as different ways to cope with feelings about COVID-19 and how to think about the future.

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Support for Trauma Survivors & Their Loved Ones

Support for Trauma Survivors and Their Loved Ones

This article was written by Heather Tuba and is an interview with Robyn Brickel and Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, CDWF.   

If you are feeling inundated and overwhelmed by information about the trauma of the world right now, you are not alone. And if you are someone who experienced childhood trauma or you are in a relationship with them, you already entered this time with a lot on your plate.

In order to help survivors and their loved ones in one post, I asked two trauma-informed experts to weigh in on the topic of support for trauma survivors and their loved ones during Coronavirus. While this post is a bit longer than usual, I hope to give you trauma-informed information and insights you can use now and in the future.

You will also find links throughout the post and a recommended resources list from my guests and myself at the end.

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How to Build Resilience as a Trauma Survivor

Build Up Resilience During COVID-19

This global pandemic, COVID-19, is happening to everyone! Everyone will have some trauma history after living through this crisis. Every child now has at least one point on the ACE score! (Learn more about the ACEs study and its connection to trauma and health.) Everyone needs support to build up their resilience right now, during COVID-19

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You Can Reduce the Stress You’re Feeling Right Now!

During these challenging times, it’s normal to be experiencing increased anxiety. Everyone is!  And if your baseline is regularly higher in anxiety or hyperarousal, this will feel like even more to you!  

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Dissociation: How People Cope with Trauma They Want to Forget

Dissociation (Psychology)

When you witness or experience something terrible, you may try not to think about it. To help you, your brain may call on one of its most creative and ingenious coping strategies to keep you going: dissociation. Continue reading