Mental health | Kay Trotter

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  Contact : (214) 499-0396

All Posts Tagged: Mental health

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.’

SUMMARY

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.

FOR IMMEDIATE HELP CALL
2-1-1 – Local Suicide Intervention
800-435-7609 – National Teen Suicide Hotline

 

 

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History Making Bill…Animal Assisted Therapy Law

On October 1st 2013 Connecticut will make history by enacting the FIRST Animal Assisted Therapy Bill

As the first bill of its kinds Connecticut realized the emotional and psychology benefits of including an animal in the mental health therapy treatment process.

Some of the bill highlights include

  • Training  individuals on (1) the healing value of the human-animal bond 
for children, (2) the value of therapy animals in dealing with 
traumatic situations, and (3) the benefit of an animal assisted therapy 
program.
  • Collaboration with mental health 
care providers to incorporate animal assisted therapy into the therapy for children and youth.
  • Develop a coordinated volunteer canine crisis response team for crisis intervention.
  • Develop a results based 
accountability assessment of the results of animal assisted programs.

Below is the complete Connecticut Animal Assisted Therapy Bill 

History Making Bill Signed by Connecticut Governor – here is the actual bill

AN ACT CONCERNING ANIMAL THERAPY.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2013) (a) For purposes of this 
section, “animal assisted therapy” means goal-directed intervention in 
which animals are used as an integral part of the treatment process for 
individuals who have experienced mental, physical or emotional trauma and “animal assisted therapy community” 
means the local or regional entities possessing the staff and 
capabilities to engage in animal assisted therapy including, but not 
limited to, the Connecticut Humane Society, Soul Friends, Inc. and 
Animal Assisted Therapy Services, Inc.

(b) Not later than 
January 1, 2014, the Commissioner of Children and Families, within 
available appropriations, shall develop and implement training for 
certain employees of the Department of Children and Families and mental 
health care providers, on (1) the healing value of the human-animal bond 
for children, (2) the value of therapy animals in dealing with 
traumatic situations, and (3) the benefit of an animal assisted therapy 
program.

(c) Not later than January 1, 2014, the Commissioner 
of Children and Families, in consultation with the Governor’s Prevention
Partnership and the animal assisted therapy community and within available appropriations, shall develop and operate, or contract for, an
animal assisted therapy program. Such program shall: (1) Provide animal
 assisted therapy to children and youths living with trauma and loss; 
(2) provide animal assisted therapy to children and youths with 
behavioral health needs who are in the custody of the Department of 
Children and Families; (3) allow for collaboration with mental health 
care providers to incorporate animal assisted therapy into the therapy 
plan for youths or children; (4) promote the healing benefits of the 
human-animal bond by providing interactive empathetic training 
activities with therapy animals; (5) incorporate nonverbal learning into
the formulation of trauma treatment modalities; and (6) demonstrate 
positive outcomes for children.

(d) Not later than January 1, 
2014, the Commissioner of Children and Families, in consultation with 
the Commissioner of Agriculture and within available appropriations, 
shall develop a coordinated volunteer canine crisis response team. Such 
team shall consist of various handlers and canines that have been 
trained and certified to provide comfort and relief to individuals 
during and after traumatic events. Such team shall operate on a 
volunteer basis and shall be available to provide animal assisted 
therapy within twenty-four hours of receiving notice to do so.

(e) Not later than January 1, 2014, the Commissioner of Children and 
Families, in consultation with the Commissioner of Agriculture and the 
joint standing committee on children, shall develop a results based 
accountability assessment of the results of the programs implemented 
pursuant to subsections (b) to (d), inclusive, of this section to (1) 
determine the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy, (2) begin the 
process of identifying curriculum-based animal assisted therapy as a 
potential best practice approach, and (3) demonstrate positive outcome 
measures in hopefulness, tied to resilience in the literature and other 
social emotional measures of healthy child development.

 

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Childhood abuse still impacting your day-to-day life? Read this!

 

adult survivor of abuse

This blog is for you if your an Adult Survivor of Childhood Abuse and 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.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Get professional help IMMEDIATELY.

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.

Resources:

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.

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 Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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Play Therapy for Children

4 Year Old Girl Playing With Blocks

IN HONOR OF THE FIRST DAY OF NATIONAL PLAY THERAPY AWARENESS WEEK 

Work with young children is important….Because research has shown that a child’s social and academic success can be greatly influenced by experiences from infancy and toddlerhood. Infant or toddlers who have identified with difficulties or has experienced trauma would benefit from Play Therapy.

It’s important that a trained play therapist work with young child and their parents or caregivers as early as possible is optimal—early intervention make a difference. Early intervention helps foster mental health development and future healthy relationships. Neuroscientist have identified that healthy care giving interactions with infants and toddles positively influence developments of the child’s brain that affects their behaviors throughout childhood and adult hood. Play therapy provides the framework needed for understanding the emotional needs of very young children and their caregivers.

“The job of early intervention is to support, facilitate, identify and guild on strengths that exist in the and for each child and family”

DID YOU KNOW THAT DR. KAY TROTTER DOES PLAY THERAPY WITH YOUNG CHILDREN? 

As a Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor Dr. Kay has extensive training in child development, parent-child attunement, play based interventions, parenting and of course play therapy techniques.

  • To find a Registered Play Therapist in your area or to find out learn more about Play Therapy visit the Association for Play Therapy.
  • To read the Play Therapy Meta Analysis “The Efficacy of Play Therapy and Filial Therapy with Children: Summary of the Meta-Analytic Findings” visit Center for Play Therapy.
  • Visit the Texas Association for Play Therapy site and “Make a Difference In Their Lives.”

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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Equine Interactive Professional Certification

Both equine interactive mental heath professionals and equine interactive education professionals need to be able demonstrate competent level of training, education and experience in providing equine interactive services. The Certification Board for Equine Interactive Professions Certification is the flagship certification safeguarding the public of the practitioners qualifications to offer equine interactive therapy and services.

Benefits of Certification Board for Equine Interactive Professions CBEIP Certification 

Professional Distinction – Certification provides documented evidence of examination by an independent certifying organization and demonstrates high level of knowledge about the specialized field of equine assisted interaction.

Certification is identified by the public as signifying professionalism, specialized training and knowledge in the field of equine assisted interaction.

As work with equines in mental health and education becomes more readily identifiable by the public, credentials such as the CEIP will assist professionals to establish their credibility.

Commercial General Liability Insurance – Coverage with Markel Insurance Company is available to Certified Equine Interaction Professionals whether they own, lease, use their own facility, or are independent contractors traveling to other locations to practice equine assisted therapy or education.

Cristina Rennie MA RCCI – This Certification  shows clients that professionals are wanting to hold high standards in the work and therefore gives people more information about the field and the qualifications a person has… related to informed consent, scope of practice and ethics. – Cristina Rennie MA RCC , BC Canada, www.shamrockcounselling.com

Ann Alden, MA, CEIP-ED – I took this exam when it was first offered and have renewed it once already. I highly recommend it because it is independent of any model or organization. Instead it is independently tested in a way that allows the applicant to demonstrate their knowledge, experience and competence in providing equine-human interactions. I missed a few questions primarily because I have been out of graduate school so long I think. I would personally much prefer to send someone to a practitioner who has this type of certification than one that is limited to one model or type of approach to working with horses to help people. I took the test at a small aviation center near the Tucson airport and was given 2 hours to finish it, more than I needed. – Ann Alden, MA, CEIP-ED, PATH International Certified Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental, Health and Learning., Sonoita, AZ, Www.borderlandscenter.com

CBEIP Certification – Study Guide

By Barbara Rector

In answer to questions on what to study for the domains of competency covered in the CBEIP exam. Here are some ideas that will help as you prepare to take the exam. The administrative and horses questions specific to experiential education and/or mental health is best done from my perspective through review of your common sense practices offering your services with the help of horses.

There undoubtedly are cultural influences imbedded in the questions just as there are different ways of keeping horses humanely depending on your area of the country or world.

Best to review the Adult D level Pony Cub curriculum or your favorite book that offers basic skills of horsemanship information. http://tinyurl.com/a4tkpto

Watch the videos on line of the horse behaviors put out by Penn State at The New Bolton Center.

Review the Standards and Safety Guidelines, just read as if a novel of: PATH Intl, ACRIP or the Pony Club.

Review your particular basic text used when studying experiential education and/or mental health. There are several good suggestions from the CBEIP Handbook in the References list located at the back.

I urge everyone who meets the qualifications for sitting the exam to have a go at it. Don’t worry about passing. You may miss a number of the questions and still pass, (80% is required to pass), and you can take the test over until a passing grade is achieved.

If you don’t understand a question or believe there is no good answer, make note of it. Write your rational for your answer and send it to the CBEIP Board to pass along to the Question Developers. It may be that the question requires re-wording or clarification with better references, in which case you may not lose points for an incorrect answer.

Barbara Rector MA, CEIP-ED,
Adventures In Awareness™
520.247.3383
info@adventuresinawareness.net

To find out more about CBEIP Certification please go to their web site http://www.cbeip.com

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How Parents Can Help Children Through Traumatic Events

By Rise VanFleet Guest Blogger. Rise VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC
Child/Family Psychologist
Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant
In practice for nearly 40 years, with specialties in traumatic events, chronic medical illness, strenghening parent-child relationships (esp. Filial Therapy), and Animal Assisted Play Therapy. Author of dozens of books, manuals, chapters, and articles on play therapy, Filial Therapy, AAPT, and canine behavior.

Too often our world is shaken by traumatic events such as natural disasters (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods), war, school and community violence, acts of terrorism, accidents, housefires, life-threatening illness, separations, loss of a pet, kidnappings, and so on. Such events can leave all of us feeling helpless, and children may be particularly reactive to events that make them feel unsafe. Children who are directly exposed to such events can become traumatized, and the emotional impact of trauma can last a very long time if it goes unnoticed. Some children are exposed to trauma indirectly through sensationalized or repetitive newscasts or by hearing and seeing others‘ emotional reactions, and there’s evidence that children can be traumatized by this indirect contact with trauma as well. It’s important that parents have information about trauma, its impact on children, and how to help their children understand and cope with these events.

When something traumatic occurs, it’s important to give children an honest but simple explanation of what happened. They are bound to hear about it through television, schoolmates, or overheard adult conversations, so it’s best if their parents or primary caregivers play an active role in helping them understand the event. It’s also important to reassure children that you, their parents, will do everything you can to keep them safe. Some children blame themselves when bad things happen, so parents need to tell them firmly that it’s not their fault.

Caregivers should limit children’s exposure to newscasts about traumatic events. Broadcasts are geared toward adults, and children may not have the reasoning abilities or coping mechanisms to deal with repeated views of people crying, buildings on fire, and so on. Although children’s programs often portray violence, the emotional tone of the news conveys its “reality” and children and adolescents can become extremely frightened, whether or not they show it. You need not restrict their exposure entirely, but screen carefully what they do see!

Children who are roughly 3 to 12 years of age, given the opportunity, will often play out scenes from a traumatic event. Sometimes older children will, too. For example, following a car accident, parents might see their children playing out car crashes and rescues with their toys. When parents see this, they might worry that it’s damaging somehow for the child to play out the traumatic situation. Actually, it’s often just the opposite: it can help the child cope better. Just as we adults need to talk with others after experiencing something frightening, sad, or devastating, children need to play through their feelings and reactions to the trauma. It can be very beneficial if parents allow their children to play this way while showing acceptance of the child’s feelings. To stop such play can cut off the child’s primary means of coping. Of course, children should be distracted to some other activity if they are playing in ways that are actually dangerous to themselves or others, or if the child is becoming obviously upset by the play. If a child constantly plays out the traumatic event and seems unable to think about anything else, then limits should be set on the amount of time spent playing out the traumatic events. (If children’s play appears to be upsetting the child further or if they seem “obsessed” with their trauma play, parents should consider a consult with a mental health professional, as these behaviors might signal that the child is already traumatized. If children’s play appears robotic and the child seems “not there” while playing, a consult is warranted as well.)

It’s important to permit children to talk about their reactions to a traumatic event when they want to. Although such conversations can be difficult, especially if we’re experiencing our own reactions to the trauma, they do help all of us in the long run. One of the worst things we can do is say to our children, “Don’t play that way.” or “Don’t talk about it–it’s over–let’s get on with things.” Denial of the child’s reactions can lead to larger problems later. While it’s important to let children express themselves, including their feelings of anger, sadness, or helplessness, it’s also important to help them focus on the positive aspects of trauma situations.   In the wake of many disasters, there are many amazing, touching stories of selfless acts, heroic deeds, and the very best of human caring coming from the most horrible of conditions.  Although we see some of the worst of humanity after traumatic events, we also see vastly more of the very best.  It’s important for our children to hear about them because it adds to children‘s sense of security, connections to other people, and hope for the future.

The natural tendency of children to play out the things that are happening around them is their way of trying to understand. Because they are PLAYING, it feels safer to them, and this is very important. Too much TALKING about scary events can actually scare children more. Some talking is important to give children some basic information and to answer their questions, but it is through their play that children, especially those under 12, have a real opportunity to understand what is going on. Throughout the world, children in war zones are seen “playing war.” Children play doctor or medical scenes when they or someone in their family has been ill or hospitalized. Aid workers noticed that children directly affected by the Oklahoma City Bombing were playing with small plastic dogs sniffing around in piles of blocks, much as real dogs were used to find survivors in the actual rubble. After September 11, children throughout the world were reported to be playing scenes of planes hitting buildings, firefighters and rescue, buildings crashing down, and even funeral themes. A boy in the U.K. played scenes of police officers arresting “bad guys” after the terrorist bombing of the London Underground. A girl from New Orleans who had been moved to a shelter after Hurricane Katrina involved several other children in play where she was the “Mama Alligator” who was trying to save her babies (the other children) from the “Cane” (hurricane).

Long after a traumatic event has occurred, parents should remain alert to any signs of trauma in their children. When children are traumatized, the effects may occur much later than expected. Sometimes traumatized children look quite “normal” on the surface after the event, and then experience post-traumatic symptoms weeks, months, or even years later. It’s fine for parents to ask their children what they’re thinking and feeling about the event from time to time, and then really listen to what they say. On the other hand, it’s best not to “bombard” children with questions about how they’re feeling or to hold lengthy discussions with them, as this might actually raise the children’s anxiety levels. It’s good for parents to share their own feelings of fear, sadness, anger about an event because it helps children see that these reactions are normal and can provide good coping models. (A caution, though: be sure that you share your feelings simply and don’t elaborate to a point that could frighten the child further. Always reassure them that you’ll keep them safe.)

One of the most beneficial things for children after a traumatic event is for their day-to-day environment to return to “normal” as quickly as possible. Getting back to some sort of daily “routine” can help kids feel safer and keep the traumatic event from becoming the only focus of their lives. This can be challenging following some disasters, but working toward as normal an environment as possible under the circumstances can help. Parents can help children find a balance between playing/talking about the event and doing daily tasks and other types of activities.

When trauma has been caused by humans, as in terrorism, it is important for children and adults alike to remember that we gain strength from our human connections and that most people are good. Broad, angry statements about other ethnic groups can add to children’s sense of insecurity and promote prejudice and uninformed backlash effects. People throughout the world have struggled for a long time with our “differences,” and that struggle continues. Acts of terror are intended to divide us, and we can resist this and help our children feel much safer by teaching them that these bad deeds are the work of individuals (or small groups of individuals) and not of any broad ethnic, racial, religious, or other group.

Many children are quite resilient when dealing with traumatic events, but it’s good for parents to know what to look for when their child might be struggling. Here are some signs that your child might be experiencing post-traumatic problems:

  • anxious, “edgy”, nervous, agitated
  • difficulty concentrating
  • refuses to go to school; difficulty with schoolwork
  • becomes angry quickly
  • aggressive, either verbally or physically
  • nightmares, or repetitive nightmares
  • won’t sleep in his/her own bed; sleeps on floor or wants to sleep with parents
  • easily startled by noises or situations similar to the traumatic event
  • reverts to “younger-age” behaviors like bedwetting, nail biting, thumbsucking
  • won’t talk about what happened
  • talks excessively about what happened
  • becomes very dependent–clings to parents or other caretakers; fears separations
  • problems with friendships and siblings–seems aloof or argues
  • seems “different” than he/she did before; personality seems a bit different

Although these signs might be related to other things, if the signs persist, are intense, are different following the trauma, or if several occur for your child, it could be a sign of a traumatic reaction. If you or your children experience continuing distress that interferes with your day-to-day work, school, and family life, you might consider consulting with a therapist.  The sooner a post-traumatic reaction is determined and treated, the better the outcome is likely to be for the child (or adults, too). A qualified mental health professional can help the child and the parents.

Play therapy can be very effective with traumatized children. The play gives them some “distance” from which to explore and deal with their feelings. Even teens and adults can benefit from treatments which involve play and art or other expressive interventions. Words can fail us when we experience intensely frightening events, and other means of expressing ourselves become necessary. Sometimes family play interventions can be very helpful. If you have questions or concerns about your child, contact a local mental health professional. Make sure that he or she has experience with trauma, and having a background in play therapy can be a big plus.

For information on finding play therapists who specialize in children please visit The Association for Play Therapy director at http://www.a4pt.org/directory.cfm.

Or contact your local and state psychological, social work, mental health counseling, crisis, medical, or school counseling associations or professionals can make referrals to adult therapists.

Please visit Rise VanFleet visit her web site “Family Enrichment & Play Therapy Center” for more great parenting articles and great resources. http://www.risevanfleet.com

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How Stressed Are You?

Stressed

Do you diminish or categorize your stress as “normal” or “it’s no big deal, everyone has stress?”

It is not uncommon for people to downplay the stress in their daily lives, not really knowing the true amount of stress they are under, or what is considered a stressful situations. It is important for you to know what causes your stress and stress needs to be understood, especially how stress can impact your health. This STRESS QUIZ is designed to help you discover the amount of stress you may be under and do not even realize it.

Rate yourself as to how you typically react in each of the situations listed below. There are no right or wrong answers. Circle the statements in each column that apply to you. If a particular area of your life doesn’t generally cause you stress, skip it.

Cause of Stress
Mild – 1 pointModerate – 2 pointsSerious – 3 points
WorkI work part-timeI work full-timeI work more than 40 hrs wk

Number of kidsOneTwoThree or more

ParentsMy parents occasionally need my helpMy parents have chronic problems and need my help more and moreMy parents live with me because of chronic problems

In-lawsMy in-laws occasionally need my helpMy in-laws have chronic problems and need my help more and moreMy in-laws live with me because of chronic problems

HealthI have typical complaints for my ageI have mild heath problemsI have moderate to severe heath problems

MoneyI manage to save a little but not muchI am often worried that I don’t have enough moneyI have serious money problems

WeatherI experience seasonal problems, such as depression on gray daysI experience severe weather problems, like hurricanes and tornadoesMy home has been affected by a weather related disaster.

SpaceWe are crowded at homeWe have just barely enough space at homeWe have fights over space every week

CommutingI commute less than half hour a dayI commute from a half hour to an hour a dayI commute more than one hour a day

Support SystemI have some friends and family near by but not enoughI have family and friends, but most are not nearby.I have almost no one I can talk to or get support from.

Family ProblemsMy family has normal problems with friends, and neighborsMy family has moderate problems that affect our happinessMy family members have serious learning, physical, or mental problems

NeighborhoodIt could be betterIts marginalIts not safe

Other ProblemsI have occasional other problems at home, work or schoolI have frequent other problems at home, work or schoolI have multiple other problems at home, work or school, that never seem to get better

Total

If you score in the 0-13 range, you have a MILD amount of stress.

If your score is 14-26, you have a moderate amount of stress. You are approaching the DANGER ZONE

If your score is 27-39, you need to understand that stress is a SERIOUS THREAT TO YOUR HEALTH. You need some extra support from a counselor, or close friend. I urge you to make your health a priority for you and your family.

How Stress Impacts Your Health – short-term stress can keep you awake at night and make you feel irritable and edgy. High stress levels over a long period of time can cause serious health problems such as high blood pressure. And high stress can weaken your immune system and make it difficult for your body to fight disease. Stress is linked to health conditions such as depression, heart disease, and asthma.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.


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How to De-Stress

HOW-TO-DE-STRESS-

One of my favorite de-stressor or coping skills that I teach to all my clients young and old that can be done anywhere at any time is “Deep Breathing.”

Deep Breathing is a very powerful and very simple technique. It’s amazing how just taking just 3 deep breaths changes your brain chemistry proving you with instant relief to stress and tension.  This type of breathing teaches you to breathe slowly from your “diaphragm” or belly. Deep breathing relaxes you and directly reduces many of the symptoms of anxiety and panic – Don’t believe me! Give it a try

Just 3 deep breaths changes your body chemistry

HERE IS HOW

  1. First sit comfortable with your legs uncrossed and place one hand on your belly about 2 inches below belly button.  Let your eyes close.
  2. Focusing your attention on your belly as it rises and falls as you slowly breathe in and out. Now let your breathing get even slower, and count one…two…three as you breath in and one…two…three as you breath out. Expand your belly as much as you can – like a balloon.   You know you’re doing “belly breathing” right when you can feel your belly expand.  Then, exhale to the slow count of 3, just letting all the air out of the balloon.  As you exhale, just feel yourself letting go of tension.
  3. Keep repeating the belly breathing to the slow count of 3.  As you breath, try to keep a continuous flow of air without thinking about the beginning or end of each breath.
  4. Pay attention only to the feeling of the breath.
  5. If other thoughts wander in, just let them wander out again.
  6. If you have trouble getting the hang of Belly Breathing, try lying down and putting something on you’re belly. Then put all your attention into making it go up and down with each breath.
  7. Once you have mastered your Belly Breathing, you can use it when you have symptoms of anxiety or panic.  Many of the “scary sensations” of panic are related to “hyperventilation”, which simply means rapid breathing.  Also, during panic, people tend to breathe from the chest instead of from the belly.  Breathing rapidly from the chest increases anxiety.  Breathing slowly from the belly lowers anxiety and reduces many of the “scary sensations” of panic.If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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Coping Skills

S  T  R  E  S  S:   the problem

Whenever we experience emotional distress arising from the four core wounding experiences – loss, rejection, betrayal and humiliation – we have a choice of “hiding” from or ignoring these upsetting experiences.

Our ability to effectively cope with challenges and upsets requires learning and practicing skills so they become everyday coping tools. Just learning about these principles is not enough. Remember about 75% of what you do is out of HABIT.

Training our brain to use health coping methods means we can heal our own emotional wounds so we also feel better about ourselves.

We need all three coping brain functions, thinking, feeling and self-protection, to get over experiences that make us stressed, worried, angry or upset.

C   O   P   I   N   G:  principles

  1. Recognize that no thought or feeling is wrong in itself, it is what we do with it that really counts.
  2. Become aware of the way your body feels as tension begins to build up— remind yourself to breath.
  3. Recognize that you don’t have to go through this alone — help is available from a wide range of sources.
  4. Work to improve communication with your family and friends
  5. If you are experiencing fatigue or feeling overwhelmed, reduce your responsibilities for a period of time.
  6. Recognize that family and friends have to deal with their feelings too.
  7. Share honestly and lovingly how you are feeling
  8. Do things each day that are nurturing to you. Include fun activities, relaxation, time alone, and exercise.
  9. You can work to solve some of the problems that are causing you stress.
  10. Accept that guilt and worry about things you CAN’T change are useless and energy-draining.
  11. Give yourself credit for whatever level of coping you are achieving.
  12. Remember, there is no “instant fix” for stress.
  13. Develop a love and respect for yourself — because each of us is, with our strengths, a special and worthwhile person.

L   I   F   E   S   T   Y   L   E:    body – mind – spirit

You can’t always avoid stress but being able to identify what causes it is the first step toward helping yourself cope better. If you have difficulty pinpointing the causes or “triggers” of your stress, try keeping a record to help you identify patterns of stress.

To effetely use this chart, make a note of all your activates during the day and how you felt at the time. Fill in the chart whenever a stress symptom occurs, noting what happened just before. At the end of the week evaluate when you felt stressed and when you felt relaxed.

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Morning
Afternoon
Evening

R   E   L   A  X  A   T   I   O   N:   restores balance

For long-term stress relief you need periods of mental and physical relaxation throughout the day. Relaxation is a set of skills that teach you how to combat the effects of stress and restore the balance between body and mind to enable healthy, happy living.

WHY: long-term stress changes the balance of hormones in the body and leads to exhaustion. A suppressed immune system, slower metabolism and slower cell repair, result in rapid aging, weight gain, and greater risk of degenerative disease.

S   I   M   P   I   L   E:  coping skills

  • Learn to become aware of when you are experiencing stress — listen to your body
  • Practice deep breathing – just 3 deep breaths will change your body chemistry
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness practices – the state of being attentive to and aware of the present moment only
  • Guided Imagery or Visualizations
  • Journal about your feelings, thoughts and worries
  • Use Positive Affirmations to change negative self-talk
  • Exercise daily
  • Get a Massage
  • Pick a hobby
  • Cut down on activities
  • Unplug from technology – turn down the noise
  • Get outside – your brain is created to respond positively to nature — soothing your soul
  • Get enough sleep
  • Seek social support  – talk to someone
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