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.
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.
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
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
I invite you to notice the feeling you have when I say vulnerability is strength! Does it feel like a pit in your stomach? A lump in your throat? Does the idea of being vulnerable scare you?
Entering a new decade is an important time to look at where we are and where we’d like to go. It’s a chance to leave behind old ways that have not been so helpful and embrace new ways — the kinder, more trauma-informed, more compassionate ways that nurture our best selves. When it comes to mental health, I’d like to move past the things that aren’t serving us as individuals, families, communities, or human beings—and embrace and enhance the ones that are.
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!
*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.
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.