PTSD: “Your Life After Trauma”: A Book Review
PTSD: “Your Life After Trauma”
On March 16th, the new and exciting book “Your Life After Trauma”, by Michele Rosenthal (Norton publishing) was introduced nationwide. While there are numerous books on trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this book is a great book in adjunct to whatever therapy you are currently doing. It provides a concise, cognitive approach, as a roadmap of a 3-step process for creating a post trauma identity.
On my website and in previous blogs, I’ve mentioned that I’ve been a trauma therapist for over 39 years, and was at Logan Airport for the United Air crew after 911 as part of the Red Cross, Disaster Relief Network. Over my 39 years, I have found the many methods to be extremely effective. Michele Rosenthal has incorporated some of the main building blocks of trauma work including, visual imagery, heart rate breathing, yoga, Sedona Method, and mediation in conjunction with step-by-step cognitive reprocessing methods.
With trauma, the cognitive process gets hijacked and the reactive brain takes over. The book, “Your Life After Trauma” helps you resolve the top ten common obstacles to reclaim your identity again.
Top Ten Obstacles
- Trying to maintain too much control
- Feeling overwhelmed by what you’re trying to achieve
- Feeling anxious and afraid
- Feeling stuck or stalled
- You’re full of self-criticism, shame and doubt
- You’re moving too fast ( I joke with my patients that they are like the Toyota cars that were recalled due to brake failure)
- You lack balance
- You lack commitment
- You lack self-trust
- You’ve gone off track
In the introduction of the book, Michele Rosenthal wrote, what I believe is the key focus of this book, “With this book you will move through a process intended to help you develop a profound sense of inner connection and integration.”
I can say this book does live up to it promise and more. You will gain through true-life stories an understanding of how trauma affects your identity. Also, the book provides the science behind PTSD symptoms which I’ve explained in Chapter 23 of Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury along with my August 1, 2014 blog on Psychology Today.
“Your Life After Trauma” stresses throughout the book the importance of acknowledging the past, yet how to move on from it. One key factor that I highly endorse is the concept of grieving the loss of self. When I discussed this blog with Michele Rosenthal, I told her I believe this is the core to recovery, which I emphasize in my numerous speaking engagements and in Chapter 27 of Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.
“Your Life After Trauma” provides you with a well-rounded, motivational, concise cognitive approach that is a road map to regaining your life and identity after a trauma.
I highly recommend this book in adjunct to some of the following internal and external programs provided by the Dr. Diane® Brain Health Integrative Team.
External Methods vs. Internal PTSD Treatment Methods for Regaining Your Life
Internal methods require nothing from the external world to assist you in alleviating the symptoms of PTSD. These methods count on you and you alone.
Heart Rate Variability Breathing (HRVB): This method inhibits/ prevents reactivity of autonomic reaction and allows time to respond.
Hypnosis: This is similar to above, and with specific training, will teach you respond, rather than react.
Emotional Freedom Therapy (EFT)/Thought Field Therapy (TFT): This works with the “Chi” pronounced Chee or subtle energy in your body. By thinking of an event or the feeling and tapping specific acupuncture points, this immediately stops the feeling and/or thought. This is the method I used at Logan Airport to help the flight crew board the plane again.
Energy Medicine: developed by Donna Eden, this method also uses the subtle energy “Chi” in the body. Several of her methods are extremely effective, such as the cross over.
All of these methods do take time to learn and there is a learning curve. Research and even brain mapping have shown that once you’ve learned these methods, it physically separates and repairs the neural connection that was made during the traumatic event.
Meditation and Visualization: These methods help reduce PTSD symptoms, however do not change the neural connections, as do the previous methods.
Dancing, drumming, exercise, yoga, Reiki, Ti Chi and QiGong: Any of these can be extremely effective, if you cross the midline of your body, which is the middle of your body from forehead, nose, down your body. If you do cross movement in any of these modalities, you are focusing the inner connections that are stuck in either hemisphere to be released. This is seen in the external method of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, known as EMDR, which is one of the most effective methods for helping PTSD.
Humor and laughter: It is said that laughter is the best medicine and I totally agree. However, if you are lucky to find humor when your body is reacting, good luck. It is a wonderful means of calming the body, because it puts out the needed chemicals, endorphins, that soothe the body and allows the thinking, responsive brain to take charge.
The following external methods require something external to help your PTSD. This category is subdivided between those externals methods that help symptoms of PTSD and those that can resolve it. The latter subcategory is not a cure; however, this area goes beyond relieving the symptoms. This category helps with neural connections and brain dysregulation. Hence the events that might trigger you in the past will be markedly decreased or not there at all, without having to continue ongoing treatment.
External Symptom Relief
– Prescription and Over the Counter (OTC): Various medications are excellent for symptom relief for PTSD, however often the brain gets used to the medication and it stops working. Thus, another medication needs to be used. Also, with medication there are possible side-effects. Lastly, there is the continuous need to use the medication, because when stopped the symptoms do return. If you are choosing to use OTC, it is advised to consult with your primary care provider or PTSD specialist before taking any medication. You don’t want to make your symptoms worse.
– Acupuncture: This too is very effective for symptom relief. After one treatment, often the frequency of treatment can be reduced and the symptoms do not persist. However, acupuncture does not change the neural connections or dysregulation of the brain activity, which means if there is something that triggers you, the symptoms will return.
– Homeopathic– including Bach Flower Essence and Herbal Remedies: Please do not self-medicate. When dealing with PTSD, go to a certified practitioner in the various fields of homeopathic and herbal remedies. The practitioners have been trained to help you make the proper choice that will help with your symptoms. You don’t want to risk making any of your symptoms worse.
– Talk Therapy- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): This is an extremely effective method for helping you understand what is causing your symptoms and new ways of thinking about how to manage them. Currently it is considered the “Gold Standard” of methods for PTSD treatment, and is covered under many Insurance policies.
– Cranial Electro Stimulation (CES): This is a FDA medical device for the various symptoms and is highly effective.
– Massage: such as reflexology or Feldenkrais Method
– Brain Spotting: Developed by David Grand, Ph.D., this method deals with eye gaze and fixation, helping resolve the area in the brain that is stuck from the trauma.
External Methods that Change Neural Connections
– Hypnosis: This method has been used for centuries to help with trauma, including the method of age regression. There is extensive research on the topic of trauma that has proven highly effective in reducing or eliminating PTSD. There is a limitation if a person’s trauma is related to a brain injury, since it is extremely important to be able to focus and concentrate.
– Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, has been researched, and this method is used by most of the leading trauma centers in the US.
– Biofeedback: This field includes thermal, muscular and neurofeedback. Heart rate variable breathing is a subdivision of biofeedback. This field has been researched and double blind studies have shown the proven effects of this method.
– Neurofeedback– This field is made up of various companies and methods, some of which are FDA approved medical devices, and there is substantial double blind research of the various treatments modalities. The research has shown that with Neurofeedback, it is possible to make new neural connections, disconnect those that are currently being activated, and regulate the dysregulated brain that is seen with PTSD. Caution: because this is a relatively new field, there are companies and practitioners that have limited training and do NOT have FDA approved medical device equipment. To ensure you are going to a qualified practitioner for PTSD, they should be licensed in some area of mental health or are board certified (BCIA). There are two major organizations. One is the (AAPB) Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Inc. www.aapb.org. (link is external) The other is (ISNR) International Society of Neurofeedback www.isnr.net (link is external). Both websites provide a list of practitioners and their specializations.
– Sound Therapy: This method allows for remapping of neural connections and has been shown to resolve brain dysregulation. Some of the methods are the Tomatis System, bilateral sounds and hemi-sync.
– Light Therapy: In recent years under biofeedback, light therapy and infrared treatment have been successfully used for brain dysregulation and helping to promote neural connections.
As mentioned above, I’ve been a trauma therapist for over 39 years and have worked with a wide variety of causes that result in PTSD, such as warfare, sexual abuse, psychological trauma, attachment issues and brain injury, to name a few. Some of the methods presented are the core methods that I know have worked successfully, while for others I use a wide variety of methods.
Choosing the PTSD treatment or method that is best for you can be a process of trial and error. Through my integrative 5-Prong Approach, which views each person as unique, I believe there is no single program, method or treatment that works for everyone all the time. Therefore you are provided with a customized program for your specific needs.
It is important to know that there is hope and help for you to overcome your PTSD symptoms.
Michele Rosenthal’s book, “Your Life After Trauma”
is another vital tool providing help and hope for you to reclaim your identity.
There is A Way!®
Copyright © March 2015 Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.