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Portland OR &Vancouver WA

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Author: Athena Phillips

Art Therapy Workshop for Trauma Survivors! 2/23/2017

Art is often a way to express an experience for which words may feel inadequate.  Trauma and the journey of the survivor towards healing can be difficult to articulate; creativity can facilitate the transition from the unspoken subconscious to the expressed metaphor through other means of depiction of experience.

Our upcoming workshop is an opportunity for survivors to be in a safe place, to share in their experience, to find ways to express their process, and to have choice in how to accomplish integration of historical adversity.

Additional information is provided on the attached flyer.  Contact us with inquiries!Art Therapy Workshop

Groups Offered at ITTC & VIC

Support Groups and Workshops are a safe way to share in experience, gain some expertise in managing our emotions, to connect with others and feel less alone.  Here are some offered at our locations:

DID Experiences Group: Every other Monday @ 3pm

DBT Skills Group

Art Therapy Group (www.vancouverintegrativecounseling.com)

Art Therapy Workshop for DID

Contact us @ info@traumacenternw.com for more details.

 

 

DID, Iatrogenic Trauma, & Healing through Sharing

DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, continues to be a diagnosis that is portrayed incorrectly, misunderstood, and or those living with it can be overtly treated as dishonest by their healthcare providers.  Many have been re-traumatized in the pursuit of treatment (this is the iatrogenic trauma part) and have naturally become concerned about sharing in their experience for these reasons as well as others.  Most people with a dissociative disorder present with anything but DID (usually anxiety is the presenting concern) including mood disorders, addiction, eating disorders, PTSD.  Those living with DID have been diagnosed with all of these in addition to a misdiagnosis of bi-polar or schizophrenia.

Constructs of DID can often be fantastical; the greatest irony in this is that it is a very well-hidden disorder effecting 1-3% of the US population (if you do the math, that’s a lot of people!).  It is not an extremely “rare” condition as many believe (for example, 2.6% of the population has a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder within a 12-month range; up to 3.6% within a lifetime range).  Bi-polar exists as frequently, can effect behavior significantly, and is not contested as an illness.  I think the difference likely lies within the cause (DID is caused by trauma, whereas bi-polar disorder is an organic illness).  I could be bold and suggest this is another form of blaming those who have endured unbelievable adversity…perhaps I will be bold and suggest that.

The irony is that DID is an extremely well-hidden experience; considering this is the purpose behind dissociation (to protect ourselves from overwhelming experiences and to hide our pain from others in order to function); it is very atypical to work with someone with DID who also overtly displays or discusses their internal life.  Because hiding has become so necessary, including within the field of mental health, the intricacies of this gift (yes, this is how I think of it because not everyone has the capacity to protect themselves in this way) are a very private experience.  The details are rarely shared with anyone but a trusted therapist, a very close loved one, or maybe a friend or two (maybe…).

The power of groups and connecting with others who share in your experience is known to be powerful.  In an effort to provide an opportunity for people with DID to share in their experience, ITTC offers a bi-weekly group for those with DID who want to be supported by and be supportive of others who understand.  The group is mostly unstructured but is facilitated; the primary purpose is to create a safe space to share in experience.  All participants are required to be actively involved in individual therapy.

The group occurs every other Monday @ 3pm.  Contact athena@traumacenternw.com for further details.

DBT Groups Now Offered at ITTC

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is an excellent tool for affect regulation and helps those who are struggling to keep their emotions within a window that feels reasonable.  We often utilize it in adjunct with individual therapy for trauma survivors who want to build some of the skills that were not offered during their development as a result of a chaotic upbringing.

One of our clinicians, Sophie Toolenan, is offering regular DBT groups both for those within our clinic and in our community.

LPC, Therapist
Sophie Toolenan, LPC, Therapist

Click on the link below for the details for upcoming groups and feel free to contact us for more information:

dbt-group-flyer-dec-2016-3

Art Therapy Workshop for Dissociative Identity Disorder

 

Vancouver Integrative Counseling is hosting our next Art Therapy Workshop for those with Dissociative Identity Disorder.  

This is our third workshop and each one has been very fun and safe for participants (and for the facilitators!).

The intention behind the workshop is the offer an opportunity to externalize the internal experience, to share with others, and to have a visual reference.

Contact athena@traumacenternw.com if you are interested in reserving a spot!

February 20th, 10am-noon

family-system-2-pdf

Art Workshop for Dissociative Identity Disorder

Art Therapy Workshop-2 in April.

We will use mixed media to provide a safe, fun, opportunity to map your internal family. The product will be adaptable and will be helpful in conversation treatment providers, friends and family. Attached is the flyer.

Contact Athena@traumacenternw.com for more info.

Multi-cultural Trauma Training in Rwanda!

Join us for a Trauma Training in Rwanda! Following our recent visit to Rwanda, ITTC has established a partnership with the Global Engagement Institute (GEI) and the University of Rwanda to provide a trauma training that is designed for international practitioners who want to build their skills in trauma treatment while learning with and from practitioners who are working to heal a population that has been exposed to significant trauma (this is a notably resilient population!).

The first training will be offered in June; we will select 15 international participants and 15 Rwandan participants; all must have degrees and be practicing mental health professionals.

There will be opportunity for exploring Rwanda, including seeing some animals (my favorite!).

Below is the link to GEI’s newsletter featuring the training and the flyer is also attached. Contact Athena Phillips @ athena@traumacenternw.com.

http://www.global-engagement.org/trauma-treatment-training-in-rwanda01/

Broccoli, Chocolate & Trauma

Many survivors of interpersonal abuse, in its’ various forms find themselves continually adapting to and evaluating their environment; specifically those in proximity who may cause harm. Anticipating the emotional overlay in an unpredictable setting is clearly proactive and protective in that survivors can identify when risk has elevated and thus plan some sort of intervention. Appeasing the abuser, planning to escape, mitigating arguments or planning for complacency to minimize harm are some strategies utilized by those exposed to chronic threat. Having a nuanced and developed defense strategy is advantageous and can help increase the odds of physical or emotional safety. As we travel into adulthood scanning our environment and reading subtleties in other people’s behavior forces us to detach from our own internal barometer that helps us connect to the basics of who we are as individuals.

Working with adult survivors of childhood abuse or those who lived with parents who may not have been abusive but perhaps neglectful or narcissistic turns our attention to the external. A common thread that exists is a lost sense of self, of likes or dislikes and a struggle to rely on authentic internal motivation for guidance. Additionally, because we are social animals, connection to others that includes the capacity of the other to tune into our wants, needs, or emotions help us to be appropriately attuned to ourselves. Those who love us and know us well can often see what we feel before we do; empathy and connectivity help us turn inward to become increasingly familiar with our values and who we are.

In the context of therapy, when I ask adult survivors about what they care about, like or dislike or want to do professionally (for example), the answer is often “I have no idea.” So, we begin the dance of determining what it feels like to want something or to have a distaste for something or to care about something. It can feel like a task that has no beginning, so, I have designed a scientifically sound method (this phrase is used loosely) for starting the conversation; it is a measurement tool intended to discern “wants” from “shoulds.” The measurement is called “The Broccoli-Chocolate Test.” I ask people to imagine broccoli and to describe the color, smell, and texture to me and then to notice what their body or mind communicates to them (most of the time it goes something like this…”I really should eat more leafy greens and vegetables.” And then, I ask them to describe chocolate (or something comparable) alongside the associated smells, textures, and flavors. The response to the chocolate is often something along the lines of “yum.” Again, I ask for the associated physical feeling and we talk about the difference between the broccoli and the chocolate.

The step that follows is of course giving permission to enjoy the things that are wants (which are different from coping mechanisms or escape strategies like alcohol or too much television, for example). Shoulds are easier to identify because unspoken and spoken social rules are fairly overt; we don’t have to turn inward to figure out that we are supposed to live our lives in a certain way or abide by the current social norms. Being guided by our value set is different from being guided by a should; an authentic value is generated internally whereas a should is generated and reinforced externally. Something we want or like reflects the little things about us make us unique; connecting to ourselves is not a frivolous pursuit.

So…if you want some chocolate (or some broccoli)….enjoy.