General

Can You Hear Compliments? How to Let Praise into Your Life

I was recently having a conversation with an old friend. We were talking about what was up lately and I was so excited about what was going on in her life, that I didn’t even realize that I was missing so much of what she said. It wasn’t until later, when I was recounting the conversation to my husband, that I realized she had paid me a lot of compliments and I glossed over every one like they never happened.

It’s not humility. Humility means
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Children and Teens

9 Ways to Talk to Your Children about Mass Shootings


Your kids need to know the truth, but how you talk about it matters. Here's help.

It goes without saying that the most recent massacre in Orlando has the world shaken. Parents have their own set of worries around the safety of their children. And children, who have any level of exposure to the news, have a need to try to understand why this would happen and why would anyone do such a thing.

As much as we all wish we could shelter our kids from the realities of our world today we can’t. They typically hear about these types of atrocities from TV, other kids, overhearing their parents or seeing the look of concern on their parent’s faces while watching the news or reading a news feed on their phone. The points below are a helpful guide to talking to your kids about these types of tragedies.
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Bullying

Community Building After Tragedy

My satirical policy recommendation: Bowling in every street.

You chuckle. But, in the States, we are striking out at the type of grassroots events that bind neighborhoods into communities and transform wary strangers into community leaders.

Robert Putnam’s book is more apropos than ever. In his bestselling Bowling Alone, he tackles the decline of social institutions. We don’t bowl together or host neighborhood parties. Our social connectivity is now through virtual platforms.
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Anger

How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Us

The statistics are alarming. From 2009 to 2014, the number of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 hospitalized for intentionally cutting or poisoning themselves has more than doubled. This isn't the first time I'm reading about this. But it's certainly time to talk about it.

In my work with inherited family trauma, when I see a child who injures herself, I've learned to probe into the family history. The self-injurer could well be reliving aspects of a trauma she inherited from her parents or grandparents, though this is not always the case. Self-injurious behaviors can arise for other reasons as well.

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Brain and Behavior

Compassion Fatigue in the Animal Welfare Community

Before becoming a psychotherapist, I had a career in animal welfare. I’ve worn both the boots and the sandals -- that’s jargon for working on the law enforcement side and the shelter side -- and I’ve seen my fair share of trauma.

Whether you’re a humane officer or a shelter volunteer, a vet tech or an animal rights activist, you have likely seen, heard about, or experienced things that most people can’t even begin to understand. Long-term exposure to abuse and neglect, euthanasia, and grief-stricken clients not only can affect your work productivity and satisfaction, but it can also wear on you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you feel like you care so much that it hurts, you may be struggling with compassion fatigue.
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Anxiety and Panic

How Media Shapes Our View of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Most people would consider an abuse victim as a person who experienced “trauma.” However people often don’t view them as potentially experiencing “post-traumatic stress disorder.” PTSD is more commonly thought of as a condition affecting combat veterans, but the number of civilians suffering from PTSD is 13 times more than military personnel, according to a release from Drexel University. So what gives? According to researchers at Drexel, the media plays a large role in what the general population and lawmakers associate with PTSD.

The Drexel study reviewed 35 years worth of articles on PTSD published in the New York Times -- from 1980, the year PTSD was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to 2015. Of 871 articles a little over 50 percent focused on military cases of PTSD. The occurrence of PTSD in veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is 20 percent. But research shows the condition is far more likely to affect civilians who suffer sexual assault (30-80 percent of survivors), nonsexual assault (23–39 percent), survivors of disasters (30–40 percent), and car crashes (25–33 percent).
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Anger

How to Heal After an Abusive Relationship

If you’ve recently gotten out of an abusive relationship or are considering doing so, your sense of self has likely been altered -- or even destroyed. So, too, have your feelings of safety and your ability to trust others.

You can and will regain these things, but it will take time. This is likely one of the hardest things you will ever do, so be patient with yourself. You can move on...
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Children and Teens

Helping Adult Children of Mentally Ill Mothers

I’m not a psychotherapist. But I’ve sat in front of one. It took me decades to find the chair in front of the psychotherapist and maybe that’s got something to do with me being the adult child of a schizophrenic mother.

I think it took me a long time to sit facing a psychotherapist because adult children of seriously mentally ill mothers are trained since they were young to believe three things:

Chaos and crises are normal.
The focus is not on me. The focus of care is on my mother.
Don’t speak too much about what goes on at home -- people don’t like it, it’s too much for them.

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General

The Beauty of Intentional Forgetting

We store memories using a variety of contexts -- sights, sounds, smells, who was there, the weather, etc. Context helps us retrieve these memories later. For instance, my husband recently made roast chicken and collard greens. It was a normal Sunday night, then the collards hit the iron skillet and I was transported back to 1994. It smelled just like Tuesday night dinner at my Maw-Maw’s house. Walking into the kitchen, I fully expected her to be there at the stove stirring a pot of red beans with ham hocks.

The next morning my home still smelled like it, and it was like she was with me while I showered and got dressed. It was comforting. Of course it was, I love my grandmother very much. But what about the memories you don’t love? What about the times you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth? What about the time you were tyrannically insistent about something and turned out to be wrong? What about the time you cheated on your significant other? What about the time you were dumped?
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Addiction

How ‘Mad Men’ Taught Us about Trauma, Shame & Healing

Don Draper, a character on the TV series "Mad Men," was a survivor of childhood trauma.

But when we first met Don, we met a man who had it all. He was at the pinnacle of his career, happily married to his gorgeous wife, Betty, and father of two adorable children. His haughty, arrogant and aloof facade was easily mistaken for genuine confidence.

We soon found out, however, that Don was a man with flaws. An alcoholic, a womanizer and an adulterer, he lied about things, not the least of which was his fake identity. These flaws, or what a therapist would consider symptoms, were an indication that Don was unwell. Symptoms are often brilliant clues that let an individual know they have underlying yet blocked emotions, often from the past, that need attention and release.
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Anger

Spanking: 50 Years of Research Shows How Detrimental It Is

Children who were spanked are more likely to defy their parents, exhibit antisocial behavior and aggression, and experience mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a recent study from the University of Texas at Austin which analyzed 50 years worth of research involving more than 160,000 children. (Researchers defined spanking as an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities.)

The use of spanking to discipline children had the opposite effect.

"Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors," Elizabeth...
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