CJ 720 Trauma & Crisis Intervention Blog

Denial, the Harmful Resilience

By tinaaJune 28th, 2021in CJ 720

Humans are very resilient, in many different ways. Some of those ways are not necessarily the healthiest. We have this “Keep on trucking” attitude that usually contributes to us overlooking major issues. Therefore we can easily underestimate the individual or generational effects that trauma has on us. “Regardless of how trauma is introduced, the direct and indirect exposure can alter how the brain process information and facilitate behavior (Dr. Rousseau 2021).” The effects of trauma are apparent when looking at our weakest links; our children and unborn children. “Trauma in pregnancy has dramatically increased in the past 25 years and is now the number one cause of non-obstetrical maternal death in the United States. With major trauma, there is a 40 to 50% risk of fetal death.” (D. M. Krywko, F. K. Toy, M. E. Mahan, J. Kiel. 2021)

The unhealthy resilience in adults can cause them to band-aid their harm rather than heal it, therefore continuing to ignore the severe effects of trauma, subsequently causing more harm. It seems we are stuck on a Merry-go-round of trauma, fuelled by denial. Comparable to infants, adults usually do not die physically from trauma, but the effects are dire. More than 17,000 people in the US have died as of May 28, 2021, from gun-related violence. There were 44,834 total deaths by suicide in 2020 according to the CDC and exedra.

The same occurrences that cause adult trauma can cause trauma to an unborn baby “in utero.” and the same deadly effects can occur to both yet we choose to continue ignoring them. One would argue we need to prevent in utero trauma, another will argue that crime rates need to decrease. One will state that poverty needs to be addressed in order to lessen the trauma, and another will argue for a budget increase to police training. All of them would be correct. Writing this blog, I am realizing there is no one topic I could possibly bring to your attention that hasn’t been spoken of to death. There are many brilliant individuals who have thought of trauma prevention, healing trauma, bringing our judicial and mental health systems closer together in order to both prevent and heal trauma, exedra. Yet we find ourselves in the same place asking the same questions years later. So I end this blog without presenting more data to support a topic I may or may not actually have knowledge of. I will not distract you with insignificance. I leave you with a question. What are we missing in order for actual change to happen?

Paper or Plastic?

 

 

 

References:

 

 

Pregnancy Trauma

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430926/

Rousseau, D. (2021). Module 3: Neurobiology of Trauma. Boston University Metropolitan College: Blackboard.

Suicides fell in 2020, early CDC data shows

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/suicides-fell-in-2020-early-cdc-data-shows.html

THE IN UTERO EXPERIENCE TRAUMA BEFORE BIRTH

https://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/1549761/The-in-utero-experience-web.pdf

The US has had 225 mass shootings in 2021 so far. Here's the full list.

https://www.insider.com/number-of-mass-shootings-in-america-this-year-2021-3

Van der Kolk, B.  2014.  The Body Keeps Score:  Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Random House.  New York.

Dealing with Trauma and Stress During a Global Pandemic

By Reba BroadfieldJune 23rd, 2021in CJ 720

When COVID-19 first made it's appearance in America in January of 2020, most thought it was just a flu going around and that there was nothing to worry about. Two months later March 2020 came around, and the world literally stopped. Businesses and restaurants were forced to close down, and some have never reopened. Schools made history by shutting down and students learned completely virtually. And the unemployment rate skyrocketed. It's been a year and a half since a global pandemic started and finally, things are opening up. States are lifting their mask mandates as well as their capacity limits, and the job market is plentiful. What no one predicted from a pandemic was the impact it would have on the human psyche.

The stress that adults feel came from the financial stress of either having lost a job or received less hours due to the pandemic, emotional stress from having not seen loved ones since the quarantine started as well as the feelings of being isolated. The stress that children feel are starting to worry children's psychologists. The pandemic has left children feeling unsafe and out of control, and the complete shift in routine such as a disruption in school and family gatherings and an isolation from loved ones can have very dangerous consequences. It is unknown exactly how many people are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, but children who are watching the news a lot are showing more symptoms from the repeated exposure to the trauma of a pandemic. As for adults, their trauma most likely comes from having understood what COVID-19 can do to the human body, with the most common effect being death.

Long term consequences of these traumas and stresses not being addressed are: a decreased physical health, a higher risk of suicide or self harm, and a greater risk of substance abuse. To treat symptoms of dress, psychologists recommend seeking psychotherapy and counseling. When it comes to children, they say the parents really need to prioritize their children and have age appropriate discussions about the pandemic because it is very important for children to know about the virus and what it does. Parents also should teach their children relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.

Loma Linda University Health posted several tips on how to deal with stress during a pandemic such as: 1) Step away from negative news and negative social media. Instead, think about and focus on the positive things. 2) Get enough sleep, exercise, eat well, and avoid too much alcohol or substance use. 3) Find things that make you happy! Video chat with loved ones, plan a virtual game night, paint, or even garden.

The year has been filled with a lot of negatives, with a pandemic taking the lives of thousands, of police shootings, riots, etc. Not everything is negative though; there are still good people out there trying to make the best out of everything. Look around; you can feel the positives in the woods when the breeze blows through the trees and you can even see the positives right in your own neighborhood as the teenagers help an elderly couple mow their grass.

 

Resources

Campbell, L. (2020, September 8). The World Is Experiencing Mass Trauma from COVID-19: What You Can Do. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/the-world-is-experiencing-mass-trauma-from-covid-19-what-you-can-do.

Understanding the long-term collective trauma from COVID-19. News. (n.d.). https://news.llu.edu/health-wellness/understanding-long-term-collective-trauma-from-covid-19.

Comparison to the Holocaust vs. Incarceration

By mkane7June 22nd, 2021in CJ 720

Genocide is an atrocity on humans. The fact that it is dependent on the complicity of ordinary people was best shared by Zimbardo and Milgram in their experiments. The Stanford Prison Experiment by Philip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram’s experiments on obedience to authority. Zimbardo’s experiment studied why guards and prisoners become compliant and authoritarian. The participants were 11 guards and 10 prisoners who also were college students, who volunteered for this experiment. The guards were told that they must maintain “Law and order” in this prison. These were the instructions for guards only, and the first thing they did was dehumanize the prisoners by taking their clothes and replacing their names with a number, just like in Auschwitz. “Philip Zimbardo (2007) himself decided that his Stanford Prison Experiment was unethical because it violated two of these principles. Participants “did suffer considerable anguish…and (the experiment) resulted in such extreme stress and emotional turmoil that five of the sample of initially healthy young prisoners had to be released early” (Van Der Kolk, p.68).

 

In Milgram’s study, “Milgram had recruited community members to participate in his experiment at Yale University. His research was stimulated by the success of Germany’s Nazi regime of the 1930s and 1940s in enlisting the participation of ordinary citizens in unconscionable acts of terror and genocide. Milgram set out to enlisting the participation of ordinary citizens in unconscionable acts of terror and genocide under which ordinary citizens will be obedient to authority figures’ instructions to inflict pain on others” (Van Der Kolk, p.68). Milgram’s experiment was by asking subjects to deliver electric shocks (fake) to students supposedly learning a memory task. Those getting shocked were actually members of the research team and would eventually cry out in simulated pain. Many participants still complied with the authority and he then debriefed the participants and followed up later on their well-being. Nobody has suffered long-term harm, and Milgram’s experiments adhered to the ethical guidelines.

 

Both experiments showed how ordinary people can be manipulated. “Between those who acted of conviction because they shared values of the regime and its policies on the one hand, and nominal compliers who acted against their will under supervision but did not obey orders when not being watched, there were other possibilities. Many accepted and internalized the role expectation that soldiers must be tough and obedient and carry out state policies regardless of the content of specific orders. Soldiers and police often willingly obey orders and implement policy that they do not identify as commensurate with their own personal values, even when not supervised, in the same way that soldiers and police officers often willingly follow orders and are killed in the line of duty, though they do not want to die” (Browning, p.219). Browning finds Zimbardo more relevant I believe, because his experiment was first dehumanizing the prisoner, which is what they did at the “camps”. The whole experiment was in a prison setting like the camps. The similarity overlaps and It can be believed that humans can become sub-humans under certain circumstances. These were ordinary men, your neighbors, your butcher, your schoolteacher, or any ordinary human in your town. But genocide is the most terrible crime to conceive. God forgive us if it should occur again, but unfortunately it still occurs in other countries to this day.

 

In continuation there were a group of men barely mentioned in the books, but important enough to be included. These are the “Musselmans” of the camps. They are the ones who moped around. “Experience showed that only exceptionally could one survive more than three months in this way. All the musselmans who finished in the gas chambers have the same story, or more exactly, have no story; they followed the slope down to the bottom, like streams that run down to the sea” (Levi, p.90). We as a society cannot become like those men. We can’t give up on hope, and the good that is in most people, and try not to let this happen again. We have no right to eliminate a race by blaming them for something “we think” they did. This was bullyism in the extreme.

 

I also wanted to point out the correlation of “the Trauma of the Incarceration Experience”, where Mika’ il DeVeaux spent 32 years as a prisoner. 32 years is a lot longer than 5 or 6 years the Jews had to spend during the Holocaust. DeVeaux stated, “The experience of being locked in a cage has a psychological effect upon everyone made to endure it. No one leaves unscarred” (DeVeaux, p257). DeVeaux stated, “Isolation did not help my state. More than anything else, I recall feeling sad and depressed. I felt caged, alone, and helpless” (DeVeaux, p.267). I couldn’t stop relating concentration camps to our prisons. I also couldn’t stop thinking about the suffering my great grandparents went through each and every day during the Holocaust. They were very fortunate they were able to escape and start a new life here in the United States of America.

 

Some wise words from Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. “When I give presentations on trauma and trauma treatment, participants sometimes ask me to leave out the politics and confine myself to talking about neuroscience and therapy. I wish I could separate trauma from politics, but as long as we continue to live in denial and treat only trauma while ignoring its origins, we are bound to fail. In today’s world your ZIP code, even more than your genetic code, determines whether you will lead a safe and healthy life. People’s income, family structure, housing, employment, and educational opportunities affect not only their risk of developing stress but also their access to effective help to address it. Poverty, unemployment, inferior schools, social isolation, widespread availability of guns, and substandard housing all are breeding grounds for trauma. Trauma breeds further trauma; hurt people hurt other people” (Van Der Kolk, p.350). We have to open our eyes to trauma and talk about the trauma we face, because if not, it might happen again.

Work Cited:

Browning, C. R., & Mazal Holocaust Collection. (1992). Ordinary men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the final solution in Poland (1st ed.). HarperCollins, Chapters 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 18 and the Afterword.

 

DeVeaux, M. (2013). The trauma of the incarceration experience. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 48(1), 257-278.

 

Levi, P. (1996). Survival in Auschwitz. Touchstone Books.

 

Van Der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body keeps the score brain, mind and body in the healing of

trauma. Penguin Books.

Implementing Yoga on Military Installations

By Andrew PillingJune 22nd, 2021in CJ 720

Throughout a majority of this course, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been a significant topic of discussion. After serving in the military for several years, I have personally met many Soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Many of the aforementioned Soldiers, who are clearly suffering from PTSD continue to live their daily lives and leave their symptoms untreated while their personal lives suffer immensely. After reviewing the arousal and reactivity symptoms in Module 4, their symptoms almost serve as a “rite of passage” within the military; which include being easily startled, feeling on edge or tense, difficulty sleeping, and angry outbursts (Rousseau, 2021). Unfortunately, some of the Soldiers who left their symptoms untreated and suffered from PTSD are not around to speak about their experiences today. Upon returning from Afghanistan, several members committed suicide, were arrested from numerous Driving While Intoxicated arrests, involved in Domestic Violence incidents, etc. Similar to many volunteer workers and former military members who have taken the extra steps in order to help veterans who suffer from PTSD, I have sat here wondering; what can we do to help?

Fortunately, we have come a long way from learning about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, considering in 1917, PTSD was referred to as “not yet diagnosed” (Rousseau, 2021). By World War II, PTSD was referred to as “war neurosis, battle fatigue, or combat exhaustion” (Rousseau, 2021). After reading The Body Keeps the Score, very little was understood about PTSD as Dr. Van Der Kolk explains when referring to the VA (veterans affairs) they originally stated, “It has never been shown that PTSD is relevant to the mission of the Veterans Administration” (Van Der Kolk 2014, page 19). Years later, we know now that the VA spends a significant amount of its time and resources aiding veterans who suffer from PTSD.

I have personally reviewed a significant amount of literature throughout the last several weeks which discusses many of the different programs that are available to active duty and retired military members. I can say from firsthand experience that there are numerous programs available to military members who suffer from PTSD; however, getting the military members to obtain and attend necessary treatment can be an incredibly difficult task. Asking members who serve in the world’s premiere fighting force who are trained to kill the nation’s enemies on a moment’s notice are not exactly quick to obtain treatment and or counseling. Military members who self-report their symptoms are in fear of being viewed as “weak” or may lose their position to one which is less involved (in which we have discussed in Module 6). Often times, military units are often busy focusing on a myriad of other tasks, that the symptoms which affect military members truly becomes an issue within the unit when it is “too late.” As a result, taking a proactive approach and getting far ahead of the potential threat could have extremely positive results.

After watching the film Healing a Soldier’s Heart by Stephen Olsson in 2013 for our course “film review”, which involved Vietnam veterans who spent a majority of their adult lives suffering from intense symptoms of PTSD, the previously mentioned veterans utilized prolonged exposure therapy by returning to their old combat zone thirty-two years later. At the end of the film, one of the Soldiers, Terry Bell, who served as an Infantry Officer in the Vietnam War, was witnessed utilizing Yoga after his trip and stated, “I have significantly improved my relationship with my family, and a lot of my defenses just dropped away” (Olsson, 2013). After watching the film Healing a Soldier’s Heart and from firsthand experience, I believe that utilizing Yoga on military installations could be incredibly beneficial for the military members. Every morning (6:30 AM to be specific) physical training is mandatory for active-duty members. Therefore, making Yoga mandatory for active-duty members, and supervisors holding their subordinates accountable would serve as an effective way to maximize participation. Considering that Yoga, as Dr. Rousseau explains, is “used for pain management, as well as for people with a variety of psychological diagnoses, including PTSD” (Rousseau, 2021), implementing it on military installations could be a very achievable task.

Within the dissertation written by Dr. Robin Cushing titled Yoga for Veterans With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she stated that “15 to 20% of Veterans are returning from deployment with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (Cushing, 2017). Additionally, in Dr. Cushing’s dissertation, she explained that, when comprising a study of 18 veterans with PTSD who participated in a six-week intervention of 60-minute Yoga classes, that, “All of the participants demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD as a primary measure of anxiety, depression, insomnia; and demonstrated significant an overall reduction in PTSD symptoms” (Cushing, 2017). Needless to say, I believe that more research should be completed regarding how to implement Yoga within military installations which can reduce PTSD symptoms and potentially reduce suicide attempts for our combat veterans.

References:


Olsson, Stephen. Healing a Soldier’s Heart. Cultural and Educational Media. 2013, the Video Project. Alexander Street. Retrieved from: https://video-alexanderstreet-com.ezproxy.bu.edu/watch/healing-a-soldier-s-heart/cite?context=channel:the-video-project

Van Der Kolk, B. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.

Rousseau, D. (2021). Module 4 Study Guide (Notes). Boston University Metropolitan College. Retrieved from: https://onlinecampus.bu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-8917440-dt-content-rid-52443752_1/courses/21sum1metcj720so1/course/module4/allpages.htm

Cushing, R. (2017). Yoga for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. University of Hawaii, Doctor of Public Health. Retrieved from: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/62760/2017-05-dph-cushing.pdf

Implementing Yoga on Military Installations

By Andrew PillingJune 22nd, 2021in CJ 720

Throughout a majority of this course, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been a significant topic of discussion. After serving in the military for several years, I have personally met many Soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Many of the aforementioned Soldiers, who are clearly suffering from PTSD continue to live their daily lives and leave their symptoms untreated while their personal lives suffer immensely. After reviewing the arousal and reactivity symptoms in Module 4, their symptoms almost serve as a “rite of passage” within the military; which include being easily startled, feeling on edge or tense, difficulty sleeping, and angry outbursts (Rousseau, 2021). Unfortunately, some of the Soldiers who left their symptoms untreated and suffered from PTSD are not around to speak about their experiences today. Upon returning from Afghanistan, several members committed suicide, were arrested from numerous Driving While Intoxicated arrests, involved in Domestic Violence incidents, etc. Similar to many volunteer workers and former military members who have taken the extra steps in order to help veterans who suffer from PTSD, I have sat here wondering; what can we do to help?

Fortunately, we have come a long way from learning about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, considering in 1917, PTSD was referred to as “not yet diagnosed” (Rousseau, 2021). By World War II, PTSD was referred to as “war neurosis, battle fatigue, or combat exhaustion” (Rousseau, 2021). After reading The Body Keeps the Score, very little was understood about PTSD as Dr. Van Der Kolk explains when referring to the VA (veterans affairs) they originally stated, “It has never been shown that PTSD is relevant to the mission of the Veterans Administration” (Van Der Kolk 2014, page 19). Years later, we know now that the VA spends a significant amount of its time and resources aiding veterans who suffer from PTSD.

I have personally reviewed a significant amount of literature throughout the last several weeks which discusses many of the different programs that are available to active duty and retired military members. I can say from firsthand experience that there are numerous programs available to military members who suffer from PTSD; however, getting the military members to obtain and attend necessary treatment can be an incredibly difficult task. Asking members who serve in the world’s premiere fighting force who are trained to kill the nation’s enemies on a moment’s notice are not exactly quick to obtain treatment and or counseling. Military members who self-report their symptoms are in fear of being viewed as “weak” or may lose their position to one which is less involved (in which we have discussed in Module 6). Often times, military units are often busy focusing on a myriad of other tasks, that the symptoms which affect military members truly becomes an issue within the unit when it is “too late.” As a result, taking a proactive approach and getting far ahead of the potential threat could have extremely positive results.

After watching the film Healing a Soldier’s Heart by Stephen Olsson in 2013 for our course “film review”, which involved Vietnam veterans who spent a majority of their adult lives suffering from intense symptoms of PTSD, the previously mentioned veterans utilized prolonged exposure therapy by returning to their old combat zone thirty-two years later. At the end of the film, one of the Soldiers, Terry Bell, who served as an Infantry Officer in the Vietnam War, was witnessed utilizing Yoga after his trip and stated, “I have significantly improved my relationship with my family, and a lot of my defenses just dropped away” (Olsson, 2013). After watching the film Healing a Soldier’s Heart and from firsthand experience, I believe that utilizing Yoga on military installations could be incredibly beneficial for the military members. Every morning (6:30 AM to be specific) physical training is mandatory for active-duty members. Therefore, making Yoga mandatory for active-duty members, and supervisors holding their subordinates accountable would serve as an effective way to maximize participation. Considering that Yoga, as Dr. Rousseau explains, is “used for pain management, as well as for people with a variety of psychological diagnoses, including PTSD” (Rousseau, 2021), implementing it on military installations could be a very achievable task.

Within the dissertation written by Dr. Robin Cushing titled Yoga for Veterans With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she stated that “15 to 20% of Veterans are returning from deployment with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (Cushing, 2017). Additionally, in Dr. Cushing’s dissertation, she explained that, when comprising a study of 18 veterans with PTSD who participated in a six-week intervention of 60-minute Yoga classes, that, “All of the participants demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD as a primary measure of anxiety, depression, insomnia; and demonstrated significant an overall reduction in PTSD symptoms” (Cushing, 2017). Needless to say, I believe that more research should be completed regarding how to implement Yoga within military installations which can reduce PTSD symptoms and potentially reduce suicide attempts for our combat veterans.

 

References:

Olsson, Stephen. Healing a Soldier’s Heart. Cultural and Educational Media. 2013, the Video Project. Alexander Street. Retrieved from: https://video-alexanderstreet-com.ezproxy.bu.edu/watch/healing-a-soldier-s-heart/cite?context=channel:the-video-project

Van Der Kolk, B. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.

Rousseau, D. (2021). Module 4 Study Guide (Notes). Boston University Metropolitan College. Retrieved from: https://onlinecampus.bu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-8917440-dt-content-rid-52443752_1/courses/21sum1metcj720so1/course/module4/allpages.htm

Cushing, R. (2017). Yoga for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. University of Hawaii, Doctor of Public Health. Retrieved from: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/62760/2017-05-dph-cushing.pdf

Horticulture Therapy: Plant Care as a Means of Dealing with Stress and Trauma?

By Dara DoaneJune 22nd, 2021in CJ 720

“It was therapy, and I didn’t know it was therapy” (Wright, n.d., as cited in Chillag, 2018).

Over the past several months, I have been trying out plant care as a means of self-care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have noticed a huge difference in my mood, my routines, and overall wellbeing. In addition to traditional forms of therapy and self-care, this experience has shown me that there are a number of other approaches to dealing with stress and trauma that can produce powerful benefits, oftentimes without realizing just how beneficial they are. For example, by placing gardening and plant care into a mental health context and analyzing the results, it becomes clear why so many people choose to take up the hobby.

Plant care, also known as horticulture therapy, is most simply summarized as the use of plants to connect with the self, the community, and nature. Perhaps what makes horticultural therapy so impactful is that “a seed’s journey into a plant parallels the recovery process for those with mental health issues” (Chillag, 2018). Trauma recovery parallels the life of a plant – how plants grow, the patience and care that goes into helping it thrive - it all can be reflected back in the recovery process for individuals.

The discussion surrounding plant care as a means of therapy goes all the way back to the 1800s, and the benefits are extensive (Williams, n.d.). According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, “horticultural therapy helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance. In vocational horticultural therapy settings, people learn to work independently, problem solve, and follow directions.” (Williams, n.d.). It is a form of self-care that can be adjusted to best benefit the participant. For those who are survivors of trauma, plant care can help them “to be more compassionate and empathetic towards those around them” by establishing an easy routine and giving them opportunities to connect with the natural world around them in small ways (DuBois-Maahs, 2019).

Just as it is with our own everyday lives, the realm of criminal justice is not unfamiliar with stress. Within prison and jail populations, there have been noticeably “reduced recidivism rates among inmates who participate in horticultural therapy programs” (Chillag, 2018). The Insight Garden Program was established with a similar goal in mind: to provide inmates with vocational tools, while allowing them to connect with nature and improve their emotional states through plant care (Insight Garden Program, n.d.). The program attempts to reduce some of the pain and trauma that inmates can experience going into and through the prison system, while providing them with the educational and emotional tools to improve their lives when they are released. Through this plant care routine, inmates are given some personal control in their lives in an impactful way that allows them to “engage in healthy lifestyle choices” and that sets them up for a better chance at success in life (Rousseau, 2021).

Starting with tiny plant cuttings that I received from my neighbors, I have been able to grow out vines and beautiful leaves. With each new leaf that unfurls, it feels like a reward for the work that I have put in. With this in mind, for inmates who are given limited time outside, who live under constant stress in a carceral setting, and who are dealing with the impacts of previous trauma in their lives, this use of plant care as a means of regaining control in their lives would be incredibly impactful.

Plants I have grown from cuttings over the past several months.

References:

Chillag, A. (2018, August 3). Gardening becomes healing with horticultural therapy. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/03/health/sw-horticultural-therapy/index.html.

DuBois-Maahs, J. (2019, December 28). What Even Is Plant Therapy? Talkspace. https://www.talkspace.com/blog/plant-therapy/.

Insight Garden Program – Connection through nature. Insight Garden Program. (n.d.). https://insightgardenprogram.org/.

Rousseau, D. (2021). Module 1: Introduction to Trauma [Lecture Notes]. Boston University Metropolitan College.

Williams, S. (n.d.). About Horticultural Therapy. American Horticultural Therapy Association. https://www.ahta.org/what-is-horticultural-therapy.

Self Care & The WorkPlace

By emmandJune 22nd, 2021in CJ 720

Self-care is very important. After reading through other classmate’s self-care posts I decided to do a deeper dive into Self-care and trauma. Self-care is important in order for individuals to perform their best at work. The article Embedding Staff Self-Care into The MTSS Framework for Those Working in Correctional Facilities looks to integrate self-care practices into a workplace for staff that pours their heart and soul into caring for juveniles and keeping them safe (Jolivette et al, 2019). These staff members are experiencing trauma through the juveniles they work with and them helping the juveniles expose them second-hand to traumatic experiences.

Self-care can help prevent  burnout and alleviate some stress (Jolivette, 2019). Employer benefits that help support self-care that were mentioned in the article are gift certificates for the most amount of steps walked, access to recreational equipment and discounted gym memberships (Jolivette, 2019). All of these are a nice perk in a workplace but can be used as self-care because every job can be a little stressful and you don’t want to burnout. 

 

Works Cited:

Jolivette, K., Swoszowski, N., Kumm, S., Sanders, S., & Ansley, B. (2019). Embedding Staff Self-Care into the MTSS Framework for Those Working in Juvenile Correctional Facilities. Journal of Correctional Education (1974-), 70(1), 2-19. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/26864119

 

Mindfulness as an Exercise

By rj591June 22nd, 2021in CJ 720

Mindfulness is a form of therapy used for anyone who wants and needs to understand their surroundings and how to mentally accept it. Practicing mindfulness improves depression and emotional regulation through detachment, changing not thoughts and feelings but the person's relationship to them” (Bateman, 2012). The process of mindfulness includes closing your eyes, focusing on each breath you inhale and exhale, and trying to keep your focus on your breath and not distractions. A favorite exercise in mindfulness is to imagine a creek of water with leaves floating downstream, one by one. While imagining flowers, green grass and a hillside as the backdrop, imagine the sounds of running water and begin to focus on each leaf as it was swept away. The patient is then advised to put a "thought", any thought, on each leaf as it floats away in an effort to clear the mind and feel some relief. By focusing on those leaves, the goal is to take notice of any distractions and then force your attention back to the leaves. The most important phrases in mindfulness is "notice that" and "what´s next"? (Van Der Kolk, 2015) Living in the moment is the key to this therapy.

Trauma leaves victims with feelings of unbearable sensations (2015) and mindfulness allows us to understand body awareness. When a person feels agitated, other similar emotions may arise but when you are aware of that pattern, you have more control over suppressing it and exerting that energy in a different way (2015).

Mindfulness stems from Buddhism – “to alleviate suffering and cultivate compassion” (Ludwig & Kabat-Zinn, 2008). This can include a decreased perception of pain, the ability to tolerate pain, and the enhanced ability to reflect on choices (2008). Mindfulness can be extremely effective for those who need to realize their attachment to certain feelings and emotions so they can change their relationship with it, not their thoughts and feelings (2012).

Research from Britta Holzel and Sara Lazar "has shown that practicing mindfulness even decreases the activity of the brains smoke detector, the amygdala, and thus decreases reactivity to potential triggers" (2015).

References

Bateman, A. (2012). Mindfulness. British Journal of Psychiatry, 201(4), 297-297. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.111.098871

Ludwig DS, Kabat-Zinn J. (2008). Mindfulness in Medicine. JAMA. 2008;300(11):1350–1352.   doi:10.1001/jama.300.11.1350

Van Der Kolk, B. (2015). The body keeps the score: brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin Books.

Secondary Trauma: Spouses and Couples of Law Enforcement

By Christina VernetJune 22nd, 2021in CJ 720

Police officers endures highly pressured incidents on a regular basis during their routine. For example, “a sudden death in the line of duty, serious injury from an officer-involved shooting, exposure to intense trauma on a call, a physical or psychological threat to the safety or well-being of an individual or community, regardless of the type of incident.” (Rousseau, 2021). Moreover, as explained in the incident involves any situation or event faced by police officers that causes a distressing, dramatic, or profound change or disruption in their physical. (Rousseau, 2021). Trauma can not only affect the officer themselves, but it can also impact those around them. For example, during daily routines an officer with a heightened sense and trauma may be triggered during an encounter, arrest, or stop and have the trauma affect their decision making. Such decision making can escalate encounters that did not need to result to in excessive or deadly force. There are multiple signs that may attribute to trauma that is fatigue, difficulty breathing, confusion, poor decisions, poor concentration, anxiety and much more. Therefore, it is hard for others to pick up the sense that an individual has encountered a life changing event and may be suffering from it. Specifically, it may be hard for a spouse or significant other to pick up that their loved on is suffering from trauma, especially if they have a career in law enforcement.

Photo by: Police lifePTSD Awareness Poster | Police Life

            Although many research suggests that law enforcement professionals (LEP) are directly affected by trauma, few have focused their attention on the secondary trauma of their loved ones or spouses. A study was conducted, where an in-depth qualitative interview on eight spouse of law enforcement. In a summary, the results had shown that trauma creates a domino effect onto the spouse, however, the upside to this is that it appears that such couples show a strong bond and how they cope with the trauma.

            As stated, police officers encounter crime, violence, and life-threatening events on a daily basis. Because of the dramatic exposure such exposure can impact an LE spouse or family. “The investigations that have focused on LE spouses suggest that police work has a detrimental impact on LE spouses and that those in close contact with the traumatized person also experience symptoms of traumatization.” (Landers et. Al., 2020). “Family support is critical for reducing the negative impact” of stressful work in the criminal justice profession. (Landers et. Al., 2020). Moreover, it is noted that family members play a role to support their partner that is in the LE career. Such role may include, but not limited to, additional responsibilities, creating coping mechanisms, social support, and developing a great way to communicate. Interesting, it is encouraged for spouses and family members to be quite involved because the high prevalence of trauma and the idea that the spouse can help assist clinicians to better understand how trauma affects the couple relationship and how to reduce its negative impact. (Landers et. Al., 2020). However, secondary trauma is described as a natural consequence of behaviors and emotions resulting “from knowing about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other-the stress resulting from helping or want to help a traumatized or suffering person.” (Landers et. Al., 2020). However, when a spouse wants to help their significant, they may to subject themselves to the secondary exposure to trauma. The reason for this is because family members influence the quality of family relationships. Spouses endure the challenges that’s comes with a significant other that works in a highly stressful profession. Behind closed doors, spouses are the ones that see their professional spouse through it all, mental breaks downs, anxiety, distancing and much more.

In a study, interviews of LAE spouses all had to think of an occasion when they had noticed their partner is going through a traumatic event and how it directly affected them. At the end of the study, it was shown that partners are exposed through many different types of traumas i.e. death, injury etc. However, it was also noticed that such trauma may cause a ripple effect as in the LE may begin to have mood swings, changes in behavior and that may affect the spouse. For example, one spouse stated that they fear every time their spouse goes to work and other states that if their LE doesn’t scan the room, then it feels as if she does because she adapted a sense of insecurity. But because of such issues and the domino effect of trauma, spouses have developed a sense to cope.

Coping mechanisms has allowed for spouses to develop better coping mechanism and provide mutual support by understanding each other’s position. For example, “if something bad happens, we get really cohesive.” (Landers et. Al., 2020). Open communication about the traumatic event exposure and the pressure of the trauma appears to be a very important coping mechanisms for a couple’s relationship. By tackling on LE family or spousal health it illuminates the importance of the supportive role that they play.

Landers, A. L., Dimitropoulos, G., Mendenhall, T. J., Kennedy, A., & Zemanek, L. (2020).Backing the Blue: Trauma in Law Enforcement Spouses and Couples.Family Relations, 69(2), 308-319. https://ezproxy.bu.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.proquest.com%2Fscholarly-journals%2Fbacking-blue-trauma-law-enforcement-spouses%2Fdocview%2F2376234440%2Fse-2%3Faccountid%3D9676

Rousseau, D. (2021). Module 6: Trauma and the Criminal Justice System. Boston University Metropolitan College: Blackboard.

 

 

EMDR as Trauma Therapy

By catsmithJune 22nd, 2021in CJ 720

Currently, there are many different techniques that people can use to alleviate issues they are experiencing due to a traumatic event. Sometimes it can be overwhelming when you are already experiencing negative emotions from the trauma you’ve faced and now you are trying to seek help, but might not know where to start. I believe that Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a very beneficial technique that can be added to your regular therapy session. EMDR has been proven to alleviate stress and negative emotions associated with traumatic events (One80center, 2012). To help you better understand EMDR and its benefits, first let me explain what EMDR is.

EMDR therapy is a psychotherapy approach to trauma treatment that uses a series of bilateral stimulation, most common being eye movements, during regular therapy sessions. There are eight phases total in the EMDR process which consist of history, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation (Rousseau, 2021). During the history phase, they discuss both past and present concerns and what they want in the future. They do this to identify and target the traumatic events that they need to process. In the preparation phase, the therapist and client identify a safe place for when the client experiences distress and they have to want to regain self control and a sense of stability (Rousseau, 2021). In the assessment phase, the therapist has the client start to recall the traumatic events while also identifying the negative views and beliefs they have about themselves because of the traumatic event. In the desensitization phase, the clients are now exposed to a series of eye movements or even clicks while they recall the traumatic events. This is supposed to help them reprocess the events (Rousseau, 2021). In the Installation phase they continue the same eye movement mixed in with regular therapy, but this time they are getting the client to focus on the positive beliefs about themselves in relation to the events. After this phase, they conduct a body scan to evaluate if the clients progress and to see if they need more sessions. As for the closure and reevaluation phases, these phases are conducted in every session. Revaluation phase/ process is done in the beginning of every session to see if the client needs to complete a desensitization or installation phase and closure phase/ process is completed at the end of each session so that they can review and it allows the clients gain a sense of safety/ control before leaving the session (Rousseau, 2021).

You might be saying okay I understand the phases, but how does EMDR work exactly? Dr. Andrew  M. Leeds, the author of A Guide to the Standard EMDR Therapy Protocols for Clinicians, Supervisors, and Consultants and who has also used EMDR in his therapy sessions since 1991, explains in an interview on all the current working hypotheses of EMDR, why EMDR is so effective. Dr. Leed brought up the REM, rapid eye movement or orienting response hypothesis as an explanation (One80center, 2012). The REM, rapid eye movement, or orienting response hypothesis has two parts. The first part discusses REM sleep. During REM sleep we lose the vividness of emotions and feelings in the memories we have and we only store the important information instead. This is combined with the second part, in which a therapist brings up the memories while also triggering the client’s orienting response by using rapid eye movement, allowing the client to associate the original stress and emotions from the situation as something from the past and less vivid, which makes the part of the brain that perceives the emotional parts of the event see it as boring stimuli, and then it is moved to the REM system. When they are  moved to the REM system, the memories are stored as less vivid and intense. This in turns helps the client move past their traumatic experiences (One80center, 2012). 

Though EMDR is commonly used for PTSD patients, EMDR has also been proven to work for many other stress disorders. In an article where they analyzed seven different studies that used EMDR therapy with cancer patients, 140 patients in total, they found that EMDR had lowered the stress levels of the patients and improved their overall quality of life (Portigliatti Pomeri, La Salvia,Carletto, Oliva, & Ostacoli., 2020). It was stated that this occurred due to the EMDR therapy alleviating the psychological stress that the patients were experiencing (Portigliatti Pomeri, La Salvia,Carletto, Oliva, & Ostacoli., 2020). 

Though everyone who experiences a traumatic event has a different response, I believe that EMDR is an effective tool that can help alleviate the stress and tiggers that come from the traumatic event. Over all, EMDR has been proven to be a great tool for those who have experienced traumatic events. With EMDR being effective for not only PTSD, but also other stress disorders, I believe that it should be used in regular therapy sessions more frequently. If you would like to see EMDR in practice or get more information check out the Lukin Center youtube page linked below! 

Sources: 

Portigliatti Pomeri, A., La Salvia, A., Carletto, S., Oliva, F., & Ostacoli, L. (2020). EMDR in Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 590204–590204. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.590204

 

One80center (September 6th, 2012). Q5: Can you tell us why EMDR works?- EMDR with Dr. Andrew M. Leeds Ph.D.- ONE80CENTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWyDWvMEl1E 

 

The Lukin Center (2021, March 9). EMDR Therapy: Demonstration & Step-by-Step Walkthrough. [youtube]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ra8p4MSOk 

Rousseau, D. (2021).Pathways to Recovery: Understanding Approaches to Trauma Treatment. [virtual lecture]. https://onlinecampus.bu.edu/ultra/courses/_75565_1/cl/outline