Adults | Kay Trotter

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All Posts in Category: Adults

How to help after a disaster

Thank you Kathy Gambino, Angleton, TX for this great list of ways we can help those affected by the Hurricane Harvey and the historic flooding.

Hurricane Harvey has brought “500-year” rainfall and flood conditions to the Houston. Areas around Houston have experienced flooding reaching 1,000-year thresholds or more. and South Texas.

disaster relief, hurricane harvey

Hurricane Harvey wreaks historic devastation

Many people are feeling very overwhelmed right now and they aren’t mentally, physically, or even spiritually well due to severe stress, exhaustion and trauma. They may not even know what they actually need or have difficulty communicating their needs.

If you are looking to help anyone in need now, the coming days, weeks or even months, this is GREAT advice:

PRAY and keep praying…it is the single most helpful and impacting thing you can do for your friends and neighbors suffering from a natural disaster like this. Many times people welcome a BRIEF, personal prayer in person, but ask them first. God loves, hears, cares, and moves for his people!

Offer a hug. Sometimes people experiencing a crises need and want a hug, but respect their space and ask them if they need one first. Be willing to offer one, even if you are not a hugger. [ I was offered a hug this week while evacuating my horses, by someone who I knew wasn’t comfortable hugging…and it meant the world to me!] Sometimes, however, people do NOT want to be physically comforted or become emotional in front of others.

Also choose not be offended if the people you are helping, get irritated, upset, angry, or even rude. Exhausted, hurting people may. Love them and keep helping anyway, unless they ask you to not help or stop helping.


For example, instead of saying “What can I do to help?” Or “Call me if you need anything at all.” try these specific suggestions:

Can I help you prepare your home for the possible/coming flood?

1. Can I come help today until 8pm to get water out of your house?

2. Can I come by with baskets and wash your wet clothing at my house? Be willing to donate your laundry baskets.

3. Can I bring you lunch/dinner at __pm today? How many people? Where would you like it delivered? (They are probably not staying in their flooded home)

4. Would you like to eat dinner at our house at 8pm? We have clean towels if you want to shower here first. We are serving brisket, potatoes, and salad. (They will look forward to specific meals and enjoy having a concrete plan). Don’t be irritated if they are late.

5. Bring an ice chest full of bottled ice, water, Gatorade, tea, lemonade to their flooded home. The Corp of Engineers is handing out free ice and bottled water.[ Not certain about this] Figure out where the closest location is. Go get some every morning and deliver it to them. Give family the location if you have to stop.

6. Set up a folding table in their garage/carport with a sign that reads “Return Tools Here.” (Write your name and phone number in Sharpie on the table if you want it back in a month or so as they won’t remember who brought it. Be willing to consider it a donation, if it gets lost, misplaced, or loaned to someone else in the process.)

7. Set up a table and chairs in a shaded area outside so workers have a place to take a break, eat a meal, etc… a lot of times you can hose off and disinfect a patio table (1/4 cup bleach per gallon of water.) Put ice chest of drinks close by.

8. Order large plastic tubs with tops to store all their belongings – 50 is not too many. If they arrive next week, they will still need them.

9. Offer to drive to Bastrop or Austin to purchase supplies to begin muck out as you can be back in 6 hours. Flat shovels, bleach, spray bottles, light weight cordless electric saw to cut sheet rock, mask, safety goggles, bags of industrial rag packs (can be washed and reused), industrial trash bags, Wheel barrel, disinfectant, 5 gallon buckets, etc…

10. If you are out of town and want to help, mail (double check the appropriate address) gift cards for restaurants, grocery and hardware stores that are nearby.

11. Can I loan you a car for a week (with a full tank of gas and perhaps gas cards to fill up as needed)?

12. Can I call in, refill, and deliver a prescription for you?

13. Can I pick up your kids, take them to my house to play, and then drop them off at the end of the day? Is 8pm a good time? [Offer to keep others’ children, who are helping affected families, so they can give assistance safely and unhindered.]

14. Can we host you and your family for Thanksgiving/Christmas?

15. Can I come help you go through your things and pack up what is salvageable?

If you have read this far down the list, thank you for your compassion. It is truly amazing to watch our country come together and make a life changing difference!!! Do what you can, don’t feel guilty for what you can’t. It is highly probable that many families will need support for weeks or even months. Keep checking and asking. Often, immediate help thins after a few days, due to people having to go back to work, or personal limitations.


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Sandtray Therapy can be transformative

Sandtray therapyUsing Sandtray miniatures to create genograms can be a transformative therapy for all clients of all ages.

Sandtray Genograms allows the clinician and client to gain awareness about the effects of family relationships on client’s choices and feelings as well as how family dynamics affect the healing process.


  • Facilitate processing of family dynamics.
  • Introduces to clients to a playful, fun activity that will allow increased awareness about the choices and feelings one experiences related to one’s family.
  • Identify & utilize effective therapy prompts to help clients gain awareness.Enhance multicultural sensitivity as the clinician can more clearly see the culture and cultural issues in the client’s miniature selection.


Is designed to help clients express feelings. Sandtray is a “hands-on,” expressive psychotherapeutic approach that translates personal experience into a concrete, three-dimensional form. Using a tray of sand, water, and miniature figurines, clients create and 3-dimensional scenes in the sand. Clients symbolically express thoughts, feelings and memories in a tangible, vivid, and  highly personalized way. The therapist uses the client’s sandtray scene as a springboard for further elaboration of emotions and their causes. As with all counseling the therapist strives to provide unconditional positive regard, reflection of feelings in a nonjudgmental manner, displayed trust in the client’s capacity to work through issues to increase the client’s ability to cope with anxious feelings.

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College Stress: Get the Tools You Need

College Stress

Is your son or daughter home from college, or they stressed-out, burnt-out, over scheduled? Summer is a perfect time to give them the tools they need by developing effective strategies to achieve emotional and academic success with one of our counseling life coaches. College can be an overwhelming time in a student’s life. Our Counseling Life Coaches are dedicated to helping students get the most out of their college experience.

Our Counseling Life Coaches work with students in the following areas in order to support them in maximizing their college experience:

  • Improving effectiveness in and out of the classroom
  • Building life and leadership skills
  • Creating balance and managing stress
  • Boosting self-confidence and developing goals for the future
  • Empower students to set their own goals, take action toward them, and celebrate the progress toward, and completion of, their goals.
  • Apply the lifecoaching tools their personally and academically life.

Call Today 214-499-0396

Not sure of your level of your college stress? Take my Stress Quiz: How Stressed are you.

Here is a quick de-stressor that can be done anywhere at any time to help you relax and calm down when they feel stress.

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You can help prevent suicide

prevent suicideShow You Care: Let the person know you really care. Talk about your feelings and ask about his or hers. Listen carefully to what they have to say.

  • “It sounds like you’re angry (or jealous or something else), and it’s okay to be angry.”
  •  “I’m worried about you, about how you feel.”
  •  ”You mean a lot to me. I want to help.”
  •  ”I’m here, if you need someone to talk to.”

Ask The Question: Talking with people about suicide won’t put the idea in their heads. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way. Get the conversation started.

Challenge their Thinking; It’s also about helping them see that death won’t solve their problem

  • ‘It’s okay to feel angry, but it’s not okay to kill yourself.’
  • ‘I care about you, but I can’t give in to you when you act this way, so now I have to call someone here to keep you safe.’
  • ‘How are you going to feel the respect and attention you’re looking for if you are dead? You’ll be gone forever.’
  • ‘Do you really want to go away forever? You’ll leave a big hole of pain in your family and friends, who love you very much.’

Create Time-to-talk: The goal is to keep the person safe long enough to get to a time and place where there can be some good talking.

  • Go for a drive. Take them to a place where they might calm down.
  •  ‘Go for a walk or drive him ‘round the community. Only drop him back home when he’s really tired. But still watch over him.’
  • ‘Take him away from the thing that was making him angry.’
  • ‘Go to a coffee shop.’ (laughter)
  • ‘Or the beach.’ (more laughter)
  •  ‘Go to a place that’s safe for them but doesn’t facilitate their suicide fantasy, or give in to what they’re asking for.’
  • ‘Sometimes the safest place might be the emergency room.’

After they calm down and get some slept, you can make connections, like with family or support workers. Then you can talk about it more.

  • ‘Do something that makes him happy. Just ask them gently. You can listen to them. Get their story.’
  •  ‘Remind them about their family. People they care about. You can ask them, “What are the troubles in your life?”’
  • ‘Ask them simple questions. Get them to think about what they are doing. Like, “How are you feeling when you     say you want to kill yourself?” or “What are the things that make you feel this way?’
  • Help them break it down, so they can see the process of when they do this, identifying emotional     states and suicidal triggers.’
  •  ‘You can help them think about other things they can do when they feel this way again.’

Get Help: Never talk of suicide as a secret.

  • “I know where we can get some help.”
  • ”Let’s talk to someone who can help.”
  • “I can go with you to get some help.”
  • “Let’s call the crisis line, now.”

Sometimes you can be the most help by referring your friend to someone with professional skills such as:

  • Someone the person already has connections with.
  • Trustworthy family member. Someone the young person has respect for Support working together with the family member. “Family is important to provide support. It’s a partnership: support working with family and vice versa.”
  • Someone who can help build coping mechanisms and help them talk about their strengths.
  • Connect with a mental health professional or someone who can follow-up separately with the person making the threat.
  •  Someone who can talk to the whole community about suicide.
  • Anyone SAFE –  “Sometimes, to keep them safe, there might be no one left to call but the police.”

What NOT to say

  • ‘Go for it’
  • ‘Make my day.’
  •  ‘Go ahead.’
  •  ‘I dare you.’
  • ‘Here’s the rope.’
  • Giving them a challenge so they feel they have to prove it, like, ‘You don’t really mean it’ or ‘I don’t believe you.’
  • Saying something dismissive, like, ‘It can’t be that bad’ or ‘You always say that.’
  • Saying something that might make them feel more angry or alone, like, ‘Who’s it going to hurt?’ or ‘No one cares.’


Do something now: Don’t assume that they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own.

Acknowledge your reaction: It’s natural to feel panic and shock, but take time to listen and think before you act.

Be there for them: Spend time with the person and express your care and concern.

Ask if they are thinking of suicide: Asking can sometimes be very hard but it shows that you have noticed things, been listening, that you care and that they’re not alone.

Check out their safety: If a person is considering suicide it is important to know how much they have thought about it. Do they have a plan?

Decide what to do: What you decide to do needs to take into account the safety concerns that you have. Don’t agree to keep it a secret.

Take action: The person can get help from a range of professional and supportive people
Ask for a promise: if thoughts of suicide return, it is important for the person to again reach out and tell someone.

Look after yourself: It is difficult and emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal, especially over an extended period.

2-1-1 – Local Suicide Intervention
800-435-7609 – National Teen Suicide Hotline



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Domestic Violence Why Do They Stay? WFAA News Exclusive

Click here for my segment from today on WFAA Midday News talking about Domestic Violence.

Leaving a violent relationship is a process, not an event, and for many victims, they cannot simply “pick up and go” because they have many risk factors to consider. Here are a few things to consider about domestic violence on why victims continue to stay in that relationship:


  • Like most people, victims of domestic violence are invested in their intimate relationships and often strive to make them healthy and loving.
  • Some victims hope the violence will end if they become the person their partner wants them to be.
  • Others believe and have faith in their partner’s promises to change.
  • The abuser’s “good side” can give victims reason to think their partner is capable of being nurturing, kind, and nonviolent.

Guilt – Shame – DENIAL

  • Victims of violence rarely want their family and friends to know they are abused by their partner and are fearful that people will criticize them for not leaving the relationship.
  • Believe the abuse is their fault.
  • Victims often feel responsible for changing their partner’s abusive behavior or changing themselves in order for the abuse to stop.
  • Guilt and shame may be felt especially by those who are not commonly recognized as victims of domestic violence.

Emotional and physical impairment

  • The psychological and physical effects of domestic violence affect the daily functioning and mental stability of the victims. Making the process of leaving and planning for safety challenging for victims who may be depressed, physically injured, or suicidal.
  • Abusers often use a series of psychological strategies to break down the victim’s self-esteem and emotional strength.
  • In order to survive, some victims begin to perceive reality through the abuser’s paradigm, become emotionally dependent, and believe they are unable to function without their partner.


  • Threats to find victims, inflict harm, or kill them if they end the relationship.
  • The abuser threatens to seek sole custody, make child abuse allegations, or kidnap the children.
  • Many victims are stalked by their partner after leaving.

Financial dependence

  • Lack of income, viable job skills or education, affordable daycare, safe housing
  • Often, victims find themselves choosing between homelessness, living in impoverished and unsafe communities, or returning to their abusive partner.


  • Abusers establish control over victim by isolating them from support systems.
  • Victims often separate themselves from friends and family because they are ashamed of the abuse or want to protect others from the abuser’s violence.
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Adult Survivors of Child Abuse or Neglect

A few years back I started to notice that I kept seeing the same type of adult client coming to me. As I did an inventory of these clients I began to notice that they all had many similarities but the key factor was the transformation that took place during counseling. In each session I consistently found that I moved back and forth between talking to the 30 something man or women then talking to their 3-year-old inner child.  That’s right these adult clients were all survivors of childhood abuse or neglect coming to me unaware of how their childhood abuse was still impacting their day-to-day life as an adult.

This blog is dedicated to all my brave soul survivors who challenged themselves to look at their dark emotions and work to  overcome their fears.

Childhood Emotional Wounds

Research is just now beginning to understand how profoundly the emotional trauma of early child hood affects a person as an adult. They realized that if not healed, these early childhood emotional wounds, and the subconscious attitudes adopted because of them, would dictate the adult’s reaction to, and path through, life. Thus we walk around looking like and trying to act like adults, while reacting to life out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of childhood. We keep repeating the patterns of abandonment, abuse, and deprivation that we experienced in childhood.

The Brain and Childhood Abuse or Neglect

Research consistently supports that abuse in childhood can dramatically alter the way the brain copes with stress in adulthood. Consequently childhood trauma can shape the way your brain works. The limbic system sometimes called ‘the emotional brain’ is the area in the brain that initiates the fight, flight or freeze response, for surveyors of childhood abuse their amygdala which perceives danger is immune to the effects of stress hormone cortisol designed to regulate it’s response it may continue to sound an alarm inappropriately. This is because the production of cortisol in children with histories of abuse and neglect is stuck in a chronic ‘hyper-arousal’ state and may persists for many survivors throughout their adult years as well. Even when the abuse and violence has ceased and the environment is ‘safe’, many adult trauma survivors still perceive the threat to be present.

So Now You’re an Adult

As an adults survivor of childhood abuse or neglect you may find that you produce too much of the stress hormone cortisol which causes you to be in a state of ‘hyper-arousal’ which in turn decrease the volume of  your  hippocampaal causing poorer functioning of declarative memory placing you to be at a  greater risk for experiences of depression and physical inflammations. As an adult survivor you will be more likely to be highly stressed, have difficulties with anger and emotions, and be prone to self-harm, anxiety, suicide and depression.

What to do Now

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) is an international self-help support group program designed specifically for adult survivors of neglect, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse suggest that you take some time with the following two self-assessment scales to help you determine your current level of safety. After each checklist and the scoring information, there are some recommendations, which are designed to help you determine whether you are ready to progress with a recovery program.

Safety Checklist

Check “Yes” or “No” to answer each question:

1. Do you have impulses to harm yourself?                                                        Y:___ N:___

2. Do you find yourself in unsafe situations?                                                     Y:___ N:___

3. Do you easily feel overwhelmed by feelings, thoughts,

memories or bodily sensations?                                                                            Y:___ N:___

4. Do you currently feel threatened by someone close to you?                       Y:___ N:___

5. Have you ever attempted suicide?                                                                     Y:___ N:___

6. Have you ever “lost time” or lost sense of being yourself?                           Y:___ N:___

7. Do you use alcohol or drugs to excess?                                                             Y:___ N:___

8. Is there a firearm or other potentially dangerous

weapon at your residence?                                                                                       Y:___ N:___

9. Have you been victimized by someone within

the last three years?                                                                                                    Y:___ N:___

10. Is someone close to you involved in illegal activities?                                   Y:___ N:___

SCORING: If you checked “YES” to more than three questions, your current risk level is HIGH.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Let this checklist tell you what you must do to lower your risk level and create more safety in your life. Some of the situations, such as that posed in question eight, concerning firearms or dangerous weapons, can be resolved easily: remove the firearm or weapon from your residence. With other situations, such as past victimization (question nine), there is little you can do except to make every effort to prevent a recurrence. In most of the other questions, the issues are somewhat complicated but not unsolvable. You can (and should) seek professional help if you lose sense of time or of your self or have impulses to harm yourself. If you are being threatened or abused by someone close to you, you need to take steps to protect yourself and to make the threats or abuse stop  even if this means ending the relationship. If you are unsure as to how to address any of these questions, then you may need help to figure out how to create SAFETY FIRST!

Suicide Behavior Checklist

Check “Yes” or “No” to answer each question:

1. Do you feel chronically depressed?                                                                Y:___ N:___

2. Do you have recurring thoughts of killing yourself?                                  Y:___ N:___

3. Do you have a specific plan to kill yourself?                                                Y:___ N:___

4. Have you acquired the means to kill yourself,

such as a supply of pills or a gun?                                                                       Y:___ N:___

5. Do you intend to carry out this plan to kill yourself

within a specified time frame?                                                                            Y:___ N:___

6. Do you have thoughts of actually killing or harming others?                   Y:___ N:___

7. If yes, have you made specific plans or arrangements

for this to occur?                                                                                                     Y:___ N:___

SCORING: If you answered “YES” to ANY of the above questions, your suicide/harmful behavior risk level is HIGH.


You need to first lower your suicide/harmful behavior risk before attempting to initiate or continue recovery from your child abuse. The two are probably connected, but it is very important that you concentrate first on stabilizing yourself before delving deeper into your abuse issues.


Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) is an international self-help support group program designed specifically for adult survivors of neglect, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. Web page

The ASCA program offers:

  • Community based self-help support groups
  • Provider based self-help support groups
  • Web based self-help support groups
  • Survivor to Thriver workbooks

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page

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