Tag Archives: PTSD

Yoga as a Form of Trauma Therapy

Posted by: Andrea Cashman on July 8, 2015 4:00 pm

There are many trauma therapies that focus on the body such as sensorimotor therapy and EMDR. Exercise itself is a healing modality for depression, anxiety, stress and especially trauma. Many therapists may turn towards CBT or exposure therapy or another form of psychotherapy, forgetting that the body may be a source of healing. I specifically want to talk about the effects of yoga on trauma as this is a great trauma tool to encourage clients to engage in. Yoga therapy has been understudied; however, has been shown to be an effective adjunct treatment for psychiatric disorders (Cabral et al.,)

Trauma and its effects on the body cause disregulation. In PTSD, the fight or flight system is broken causing prolonged symptoms of re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal. Hyperarousal symptoms are the main embodiment of the physical symptoms within the body of a PTSD client. Clients may feel easily startled, hold tension within their bodies and have difficulty sleeping and exhibit angry outbursts (nimh.com). The body will hold onto that tension and not be able to regulate back to a calm state compared to someone who does not have PTSD.

Yoga has many physical benefits, one of which is retraining the body to be calm. The National Institutes of Health Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine defines mind-body interventions as “a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms.”Yoga practice enhances the connection between the mind and body, and it is used as a therapeutic intervention in a variety of diseases. The mechanisms that allow for the potential therapeutic effects of yoga involve the autonomic nervous system, especially a reduction in sympathetic tone, as well as activation of antagonistic neuromuscular systems and stimulation of the limbic system (Cabral et al.,)yoga

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

A Narrative Psychoeducational Introductory Tool for Trauma Work

Posted by: Trudi Wyatt on June 5, 2015 2:08 pm

Following emotional trauma, people may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) such as flashbacks, avoidance of reminders of the event, negative cognitions or mood, and hypervigilance (1). Observing that some clients with these symptoms seek an understanding of why they experience them, David Leong, MA, LMFT, created and often starts off therapy with a “story” about the neurological effects of trauma on the brain (2). While David notes that his story (based on work by Dr. Dan Siegel) might be over-simplified, he finds his clients find it helpful. This post is a summary of the story:

fistbrainThe brain can be thought of as a fist: Your forearm leading up to it is the spinal cord, and the base of your palm is your “lizard” primitive brain, that manages such automatic body functions as heartbeat and sweating. Next, if you fold your thumb sideways across your palm, this is your mid-brain—your “limbic system.” It houses emotion, memory formation, and the “fight or flight” response. Two important structures within it are the amygdala, thought to be a key player in emotional/fear/implicit memories (3,4), and the hippocampus, thought to be a key player in converting information into memory codes (4). The “language” of the limbic system is emotions. Finally, if you fold your fingers over your thumb, you have your cerebral cortex, which speaks in words, and houses sense of time and explicit memory—a more abstract, gist-based, structural recording of episodes than implicit memory (3). Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Posted by: Andrea Cashman on June 4, 2015 9:35 am

My thoughts and a brief introduction on Sensorimotor Therapy for Trauma Clients

In April, I attended a workshop on Trauma and the Body – The Theory and Practice of Sensorimotor Therapy presented by Anne Westcott on behalf of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute (SPI). I’m particularly interested in theories designed to implement treatment on trauma clients. This particular workshop opened a new realm of possibilities for me. I had my sights on becoming specialized in EMDR in the future but perhaps SPI’s three level certification program is another avenue to explore for me and for anyone seeking to work exclusively with trauma clients. I don’t necessarily believe that one theory is better than another; however, I do believe it is about what works for you the therapist and your clients. The Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute was freedom-716143_640founded by Pat Ogden in the 1980’s out of her interest in the correlation of client’s disconnections from their bodies/their physical patterns and their psychological issues. Before PTSD appeared in the DSM, Pat recognized that treatments in that time seemed to trigger traumatic reminders in a detrimental way. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) is drawn from somatic theories, attachment theories, neuroscience, the Hakomi method and cognitive approaches. Pat Ogden quotes “most human behavior is driven by procedual memory – memory for process and function – and is reflected in habitual, automatic responses and well-learned action patterns: movements, postures, gestures, autonomic arousal patterns, and emotional and cognitive tendencies.” This SP workshop explores the processes of memory and how this information can be utilised to change procedural learning in a window of tolerance for the client with PTSD. Specific skills such as tracking and attuning the body are taught. Dysregulation is noted with trauma responses of fight, flight or freeze and how the neuroscience behind the sympathetic and parasympathetic brain structures play a role in these trauma responses. SP uses movement to move the client in a state of active mobilizing defenses into a state of triumph.
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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Adult Bullying: The Aftermath

Posted by: Jonathan Delisle on May 29, 2015 8:19 am

Living under the influence of a bully is no walk in the park, as we’ve seen in my last post. To add insult to injury, the battle doesn’t end with the realization of what’s happening or the desire to put an end to the abusive influence. There are consequences to deal with in the aftermath of the abuse. In her book Le harcèlement moral: la violence perverse au quotidien, Mrs. Hirigoyen lists four steps to the aftermath of bullying.

There is a crucial turning point in abusive relationships when the victim realizes what the bully was doing all this time. While being the first step towards liberation, that moment of enlightenment hits the victim like a tidal wave. From this point on, the victim relives every bullying moment in his/her mind, seeing for the first time the extent of the abusive nature of the relationship. This experience can be quite traumatizing. With it comes turbulence of emotions: hurt, helplessness, humiliation, and eventually anger when the shock wears off. Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Tribute to Creative Art Practitioners Around the World

Posted by: Priya Senroy on May 1, 2015 8:47 am

I am very optimistic that I will soon see a plethora of greenery outside my window even though Spring has been illusive in my garden. The buds, the birds and the weeds are finally getting out of their hibernation and my energy is getting renewed as I am planning my next steps in my work.

This month has been catastrophic in many parts of the worlds, especially in Nepal and it has resonated deeply as it’s a place that I have visited many times and when the tremors were felt as far as in India, it struck more as that’s where home is.

A part of me wants to jump on the next flight and join many organizations including Art therapy Without Borders to be part of the humanitarian work and use my skills for a cause which is beyond words for many.

I have done work with some PTSD but not directly been involved as other practitioners have during the deadly hurricanes, tsunamis or like the recent earthquake. When we talk about using creative arts or even counselling in such a broad spectrum, it’s important I think to remember the ways art can be used when words are not enough. It can be used as a compliment to assessment, to recovery, to healing. This is the time when creative arts can be transcultural, transformative and transnational, something that is advocated by Art Therapy Without Borders. Since I started practicing as a creative arts therapist in 1995, I have always been amazed by the flexibility, the adaptability, the ability to connect and the diversity of this field. Not only is the cultural and diverse fabric of the field is enriched by those who practice it , it’s the client group, it’s the techniques and it’s the materials which are constantly changing and adding to this melting pot of creativity.

This blog is a salute, a tribute and a standing ovation to the field, to the practitioners and to the world out there who believe in the power of creative art.


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Effects of Trauma on Children and Adolescents

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on May 23, 2012 4:40 pm

And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren’t any other people living in the world. 

                                                                                                       ~ Anne Frank

Traumatic experiences incurred in early childhood can have an egregious effect upon the human condition including: the psychological, physiological, neurological, emotional, social, and academic readiness and preparedness for life. 

One of the greatest challenges posed to professionals is that,  “childhoood trauma does not come in one single package.” (Brown, 2008, p. 5) Therefore, making the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis is the Achilles heel of the therapeutic process. 

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Hello Creative Counsellors

Posted by: Priya Senroy on March 15, 2012 10:00 am

As I continue on inviting all of you to join me on a journey around the world on pioneers of creative therapeutic intervention/modalities, I would like to introduce you to the work of Prof. Mooli Lahad.


He has been a great influence on my work as a creative arts therapist and I have used his Integrative Model of Coping and Resiliency ‘BASIC PH’ extensively.


In my endeavor to learn from his knowledge base, I have found this site where he introduces e-learning simulation game accompanying the step by step guide on how to prepare for and manage a crisis.

I am also intrigued by his ‘SEE FAR CBT’ psycho -trauma treatment protocol, adopted by other practitioners worldwide, which I plan to include in my existing work.

I hope if you ever have the opportunity to hear him or attend any of his workshops or even go to Israel and study under him, I would strongly encourage you to do that, meanwhile, please visit the websites for more information on him.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA