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    Childhood Trauma, Self-Sabotage, and Therapy: September Mailbag

    enSeptember 18, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Understanding Past Patterns in RelationshipsAwareness of past patterns, self-compassion, authentic self-expression, effective communication, and working on personal issues can help build strong and healthy relationships despite past pain and expectations of pain.

      Our past experiences can shape our present relationships and cause us to unconsciously expect pain, even when we're in healthy and loving relationships. This is due to the triangular track of authentic self-expression, historical pain, and defense mechanisms. To overcome this, it's essential to be aware of these patterns and practice self-compassion. It's also important to remember that we cannot ultimately control another person's actions, and trying to live with the ending of the relationship can paradoxically help it continue. By focusing on being our authentic selves, communicating effectively, and working on our own issues, we can build strong and healthy relationships.

    • Fears in Relationships Can Hinder GrowthRecognize how fears inspire harmful behaviors, address root causes, and advocate for value in therapy to foster authentic connection and growth.

      Our fears do not protect us in relationships and can even make things worse over time. It's essential to recognize that these fears inspire behaviors that may provide temporary relief but ultimately hinder authentic connection and growth. Instead of trying to avoid disappointment or mask ourselves to please others, we should focus on understanding and addressing the root causes of our fears. Additionally, as clients in therapy, we have the right to seek value and should communicate openly with our therapists if we're not getting what we need. The goal is to make meaningful progress and find healing or growth, and it's important to advocate for ourselves in the therapeutic process.

    • The quality of the therapeutic relationship mattersFind a therapist with whom you feel a strong connection, understand your treatment plan, experience progress, and internalize the benefits beyond sessions. For complex PTSD, alternative therapies may be more effective than CBT.

      The quality of the therapeutic relationship between a client and therapist is crucial for effective therapy. According to the speaker, if you don't feel a strong connection or sense of value within the first few sessions, it may be time to consider finding a different therapist. The therapeutic alliance, or the relationship between the client and therapist, is more significant than the specific therapeutic approach being used. The speaker emphasizes that the most effective therapy is one where the client feels understood, has a clear treatment plan, and experiences progress. Additionally, the speaker suggests that the internalization of the benefits of therapy is essential, meaning that the shift or change experienced in therapy should last beyond the sessions. For individuals with complex PTSD and other developmental traumas, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may not be the most effective approach, and alternative therapies that focus on neurological shifts, such as focusing, EMDR, or coherence therapy, may be more beneficial.

    • Effectiveness of CBT for trauma depends on individual's cognitive abilitiesCBT for trauma is most effective when individuals can access higher cognitive functions, but for those with disrupted abilities, bottom-up approaches may be more beneficial. Individual readiness and history also impact treatment success.

      The effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for treating trauma, particularly developmental trauma, depends on the individual's ability to access higher cognitive functions, which can be disrupted by traumatic experiences. These functions include the ability to hold and appraise thoughts, think differently about them, and have a global perspective with acceptance and observing spaciousness. If these capabilities are not fully developed, bottom-up approaches may be more effective. The readiness of the person to adopt new viewpoints and do the required behaviors is also crucial. If the foundations are not yet solid, focusing on building emotional and somatic regulation and accessing deeper layers of the psyche may be necessary before implementing CBT. Research supports the importance of individualizing treatment based on the person's motivation and readiness, as well as considering their history and the specific setting of the therapy.

    • Healing from Trauma: Finding the Right ApproachHealing from trauma is a unique process for each individual. Different therapeutic approaches work better for different people. Experimenting with various approaches can lead to finding the most effective one.

      There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to healing from trauma. Different therapeutic approaches work better for different people. Some approaches, like Bruce Perry's neuro sequential model of therapeutics and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, have a strong research basis and can be particularly helpful for trauma survivors. Other approaches, like narrative therapy and somatic therapy, can also be effective, especially for those who find traditional talk therapies less accessible. Compassion-focused therapy, developed in the UK, is another evidence-based approach that has been successful for many people with trauma histories. It's important to remember that healing is a unique process for each individual, and finding the right therapeutic approach can take time and experimentation. Additionally, the mind can be thought of as a garden that requires tending - first, stepping back and accepting the garden with compassion, then growing flowers (skills like self-calming, self-soothing, and impulse control), and finally covering the weeds (negative thoughts and emotions) with flowers.

    • Healing from negative experiences involves addressing and uprooting themEffective therapy addresses negative experiences by replacing them with positive ones at a deep brain level, and the approach depends on the developmental stage of the trauma.

      Effective therapy for dealing with negative experiences involves not only focusing on positive states but also fully addressing and uprooting the negative ones. This process, known as "pulling the weeds," uses positive experiences to replace negative ones at a deep level in the brain. It's important to fully uproot the negative material to prevent it from coming back with a vengeance. The effectiveness of the treatment depends on its match to the developmental level of the trauma. For example, if the trauma occurred in late adolescence, cognitive approaches may be effective. However, if the trauma is preverbal and below episodic memory, nonverbal, highly soothing experiences may be necessary. The ZOE Science and Nutrition podcast, which offers science-based information on health, is a valuable resource for those seeking to make informed decisions about their well-being. Ultimately, the most effective treatment is the one that is matched to an individual's unique situation and condition.

    • Sharing Personal Experiences with Children: The Why and the HowBe open and real with kids, but avoid turning them into therapists. Consider context and intent to determine if sharing personal experiences is appropriate.

      Doctor John DeLaney's podcast offers practical advice and direct solutions for common life challenges, making it a valuable resource for listeners. The show's format, where real people call in for guidance, creates a sense of directness and practicality that complements the more theoretical nature of other podcasts. Regarding sharing personal experiences with children, the key takeaway is that the purpose and intent behind doing so are crucial. Being open and real with kids can help them understand us better and strengthen our relationship, but it's essential not to turn them into therapists. Cultural norms also play a role in determining whether such discussions might be shocking or normal. Ultimately, the decision to share personal experiences with children should be based on the specific context and the goal of fostering a closer, more authentic relationship. Additionally, the sponsor message highlights the simplicity and effectiveness of OneSkin's skincare solution, which relies on a single, scientifically validated ingredient to address aging skin concerns. The code "being well" offers a discount for those interested in trying the product.

    • Ensuring clear intentions during personal storytellingBe mindful of your motivations when sharing personal stories with children, ensure clear intentions, respect their feelings, and maintain professional boundaries with therapists and friends.

      While it's natural for children to sense our motivations behind sharing personal stories, it's essential to ensure that our intentions are clear and explanatory, rather than a plea for emotional attention. If the conversation becomes uncomfortable or one-sided, it's crucial to respect their feelings and end the discussion. Regarding therapists and friendships, clear boundaries are essential to maintain a healthy balance between professional and personal relationships. If a conversation starts to feel like a therapeutic session, it's important to recognize the signs and encourage your friend to seek professional help instead. The key is to maintain a reciprocal and equal friendship, where both parties benefit from the interaction.

    • Navigating friend-therapist dynamics and ADHD diagnosisBe aware of friend-therapist boundaries, communicate clearly, maintain equality, respect autonomy, avoid hierarchical relationships, consider diagnosis context, and encourage self-healing.

      Navigating the blurred lines between being a friend and a therapist can be a challenge. It's essential to be aware of the situation and communicate clearly when therapist territory is being entered. When this happens, it's important to maintain an equal dynamic, respect the other person's autonomy, and avoid moving into a hierarchical relationship. If therapeutic engagement is necessary, it should be brief and explicit. Additionally, it's crucial to remember that the ultimate goal is to help the other person take responsibility for their own healing process. Regarding ADHD, being diagnosed later in life can bring up many questions. A helpful approach is to consider the diagnosis in terms of what, why, and how to help. Understanding where the person stands in the population distribution of ADHD symptoms and considering potential underlying causes, such as trauma or biological predisposition, can provide valuable context. Ultimately, the goal is to provide support and guidance while encouraging the person to take an active role in their own healing journey.

    • Understanding the root cause of focus and attention challengesExplore personalized approaches to manage focus and attention challenges by understanding root causes, nurturing self, optimizing physiology, tuning environments, and developing inner skills, with medication as an option when necessary.

      Individuals experiencing challenges with focus and attention may be dealing with various underlying causes, including mental health conditions, traumatic experiences, or temperamental traits. To help, it's crucial to understand the root cause and provide support through nurturing self, optimizing physiology, tuning environments, and developing inner skills. Medication may also be an option for some, but it should be explored with a knowledgeable professional. Elizabeth's story illustrates how Adderall transformed her life by helping her focus, but every individual's needs are unique. Ultimately, a personalized approach that addresses the root cause and supports overall well-being is key to managing focus and attention challenges.

    • ADHD is more than just a focus disorderADHD involves rejection sensitivity and stimuli hypersensitivity, and medications like Adderall can help alleviate symptoms. It's essential to view ADHD as a difference rather than a deficiency and find appropriate treatment and individualized approaches.

      ADHD is more than just a focus disorder. It's also characterized by rejection sensitivity dysphoria and hypersensitivity to various stimuli. Medications like Adderall can help alleviate these symptoms, but the experience and response can vary greatly from person to person. It's essential to remember that ADHD is often a matter of poor fit between an individual's unique disposition and modern societal expectations. Instead of viewing it as a disorder, some argue that it's a functional adaptation that became less advantageous in today's context. Ultimately, understanding ADHD in this light can foster greater self-compassion and help us reframe it as a difference rather than a deficiency. However, accessing appropriate treatment and finding the right fit can be challenging, and it's crucial to consider individual circumstances and therapeutic approaches when dealing with this condition.

    • Exploring Emotions and Happiness: Answering Listeners' QuestionsFocus on positive experiences to alleviate anxieties, consider developmentally appropriate therapy for childhood injuries, and consider intentions before discussing past traumas with children.

      Our emotions and overall happiness are influenced by various factors, many of which are beyond our control. During our podcast episode, we addressed several listener questions, expressing gratitude for the engagement. One questioner was anxious about the potential pain in a healthy relationship. We emphasized that anxieties don't prevent feared outcomes and encouraged focusing on positive experiences to calm the mind. Another question revolved around Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for developmental trauma. We discussed the importance of developmentally appropriate therapy for early childhood injuries, as CBT might not be the best fit due to its reliance on adult brain structures. Lastly, we addressed the question of discussing one's abusive childhood with their child. We emphasized the importance of developmental appropriateness and considering one's intentions before sharing such information. Overall, therapy effectiveness depends on individual circumstances, and it's essential to consider unique situations and relationships when determining the best approach.

    • Maintaining clear therapeutic boundariesFriends shouldn't rely on therapists as their primary support. Therapists should provide brief psychoeducation but avoid repetitive interactions. For adults with ADHD, consider mindfulness practices, creating a conducive environment, and developing focus habits. If needed, consult a healthcare professional for medication.

      Therapists should avoid serving as a proxy therapist for their friends to maintain clear therapeutic boundaries. While it's acceptable to provide brief psychoeducation, repetitive therapeutic interactions can be harmful for both parties. Additionally, for adults dealing with ADHD, Rick Hanson suggested a five-point plan focusing on personal efforts, such as mindfulness practices, creating a conducive environment, and developing habits for focus. If these methods don't work, medication can be considered as a last resort, but it's essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Overall, maintaining clear boundaries and utilizing effective coping strategies are crucial for both personal and therapeutic relationships.

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    Please subscribe, rate and review on itunes:
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