The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

New survey for trauma therapists

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Ricky Greenwald, PsyD, of the Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute is asking for your participation in survey:

Dear Colleagues,

Do you consider yourself a trauma therapist or trauma-informed therapist? Do you regularly use one or more of the structured trauma treatments with your clients?

If so, I hope you will participate in an anonymous survey. The purpose of this IRB-approved study is to learn about therapists’ strategies and rationales for deciding which of the client’s trauma memories to treat first. Further studies are planned, to compare the various strategies. This line of research has the potential to identify the strategies that best promote treatment efficiency, minimize client dropout, and maximize the range of clients for whom trauma treatment is deemed feasible.

The survey is posted at: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22CGEJDW88L/ and will only be open for a few weeks, so please do it soon!

Written by traumalines

September 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm

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Vet Shares Reactions To Recent Post

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Recently, we published a blog post titled, “Washington Seeks to Fight Military Sexual Trauma…But What’s the Best Way?

One reader and military veteran provided us with a response that I wanted to share:

From my own experience in the Army, the problem with sexual harassment and trauma is pervasive throughout military life. I am a female and experienced numerous events of sexual harassment and other encounters with higher ranking NCOs and officers.

I was able to brush much of it off with either a sharp retort, rolling my eyes, or just walking away. But when I did finally attempt to communicate a situation that was making me incredibly uncomfortable, my comments (to our FEMALE EO officer) were brushed off.

She used the regulations to twist the situation and make it look like something that wasn’t reportable. But the way I felt inside about this particular person (our Company First Sergeant) made it certain to me that his behavior was NOT acceptable . I knew then that there was really no point in trying to report anything else. It would be up to me to deal with it.

Honestly, I think that men will talk bull and swagger to each other as part of their own ego, self-esteem, and bonding and they do it for the most part without any intention of harassing or hurting the other person. Men try to do this with women, too, but females don’t bond with other females in this way.

Men are attracted to women, which in some ways is a lot like jealousy, envy, or adoration they might have for other men’s lives, body parts, intellects, whatever. I think men just naturally cross that line with females without meaning malice, anguish, or injury. Most military men I knew were not out to hurt women…

The camaraderie and close working relationships that develop from sharing difficult or challenging experiences naturally lead to sexual attraction—this is true for both sexes. It’s troublesome that the services haven’t figured out a way to honestly acknowledge that unwanted sexual advances happen and teach women good ways to deal with them. A “No Tolerance” policy only encourages those who have been harassed to not report the encounter. I, for one, wouldn’t want to send someone to Leavenworth because he was attracted to me and was too boneheaded to realize that I didn’t want to sleep with him.

I don’t have all the answers. It just seems like more regulation and mandatory training is not going to help. Military reg should recognize that sometimes a hug from a Sergeant who is a friend and a hug from a First Sergeant who is NOT a friend is not the same thing and shouldn’t be treated as such. The way the reg was applied in my case only served to fail me twice: it didn’t stop the harassment from happening nor did it provide me with an avenue for redress.

Written by traumalines

July 20, 2011 at 8:48 pm

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Trauma Lines Newsletter Now Available to Public

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There are several advantages that come with being a member of the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists. There are the certification opportunities which entitle members to be recognized as having met a rigorous standard of educational and experiential requirements in the field of trauma provision, there is the publication in our resource directory identifying members by their area of expertise, teleconferences in current trends in trauma treatment, response and networking opportunities in the United States, Canada, and abroad, and ATSS also offers an international conference bi-annually.

Interested in becoming a member of ATSS? Click Here

However, now one aspect of ATSS membership is now available to members and non-members alike: the bi-monthly ATSS newsletter.

Every two months, ATSS publishes a newsletter geared towards first responders, focusing on the latest trauma news, trainings, member-written articles, and more.

Here’s a preview of an article that’s slated to appear in the next Trauma Lines newsletter:

A first responder’s perspective

Despite the stress, concern and chaos, they always respond.

Those words should make you stop and think for a moment about our first responders and their actions during the recent tornados which have ravaged the south.

During and after these massive storms destroyed everything in their wake, while most residents were fleeing from the wreckage and the danger, the first responders were right there in the thick of it all, risking their lives to save others.

Here’s a first-hand look at pilot Robbie Tester’s perspective from the recent storms in the Southern U.S.:

Robbie Tester says his crew put on many hats that night, searching for and saving as many victims as they could.  He says it’s hard because you always fear the next call may be for one of your family members or friends.  But through the stress, concern, and chaos, they still always respond.

Last Wednesday, the storms so bad they couldn’t even fly through them.  Tester says, “There were numerous requests coming in for Lifeforce helicopters, but up until then we weren’t able to fly because the weather was just so bad.”

So Tester’s crew of 6 took off on the ground instead, taking an ambulance to Dade County.  Where, before they could help, they had to hide, staying safe through another storm.  “We went in basement at city hall and waited it out, and you could see it going around Trenton cause you could see debris falling from tornado.”

Interested in becoming a member of ATSS? Click Here

Written by traumalines

June 27, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Helping Children Deal with Loss

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Kayla Held thought no one else in the world could possibly understand what she was going through. Kayla’s mother died from the injuries she sustained when a fire ripped through their home back in 2007.

But Kayla was wrong.

In fact, in recent years, dozens of students in her school alone had experienced the death of a loved one. Principal Sally Cocco soon realized that her student body had a need that wasn’t being addressed:

“I started to writing down names (of students who had lost a loved one) and it was glaringly obvious that we had a deep need at our school to support our students who had experienced the most tragic and horrific loss of their life,” she said.

“A lot of our students were suffering in silence. They were at varying stages of their bereavement and they all thought they were alone.”

By working with Tracy Hofland, a youth counsellor with the District School Board of Niagara, and Niagara author Christine Dernederlanden, Cocco introduced the public board’s first HUGS (Helping Understand Grief Session) at the Garrison Rd. school.

“The program is based on emotion and moving forward,” explained Dernederlanden, a certified trauma service specialist who developed the initiative.

It didn’t take long in the course of Dernederlanden’s program for the light bulb to go off in Kayla’s head: she wasn’t alone in her grief:

“I don’t have to keep all this stuff inside me any more. I can express my feelings about everything I’m going through and there’s other people who have experienced the same thing,” she said.

If not for the program, said Cocco, “the children would continue to suffer in silence.”

Written by traumalines

June 22, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Washington Seeks to Fight Military Sexual Trauma…But What’s the Best Way?

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“What I had to deal with in the Air Force just about destroyed me,” [Vietnam Vet JoAnn] White told The Arizona Republic. “I hope telling what happened to me will help other women. I am fed up and tired. I want the word out there.”

The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has unfortunately forced many around this country to wage a different war, one not fought with guns or missiles, one fought with lawsuits and legislation.

Military sexual trauma (MST) is an issue our military has been dealing with for a long, long time. Take JoAnn’s case, she’s still unable to work because of the abuse she sustained from her peers while serving in Vietnam.

And obviously, the problem of MST persists to this day:

Last year, 3,158 sexual assaults were reported by men and women serving in all branches of the Armed Forces, according to the Department of Defense’s Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. But the department estimates that last year’s number reflects only about 13.5 percent of the total number of assaults on men and women in active duty last year.

Another estimate from the VA says a mere 10 percent of the total abuse cases which occur are actually reported.

Many are trying to change that, including our lawmakers who introduced the “Defense Sexual Trauma Response, Oversight and Good Governance” — or Defense STRONG — Act last month:

If passed, it would give military sexual assault victims the right to legal counsel and to transfer to another base after making a complaint. The bill also would mandate increased training on bases to prevent sex assaults.

But is the real problem for MST victims the lack of resources or the “culture” of the military itself?

Many believe that the best way to get at the root problem of sexual violence is through training early in a military career.

“Correcting the culture within the military is being done in a very pointed way,” said Joice Jones, a civilian social worker who coordinates Luke Air Force Base’s sexual assault prevention and response program and helps run prevention workshops.

Jones compares many of the airmen and airwomen stationed at Luke to first-year college students: They are away from home for the first time and need information about date rape prevention as well as how to intervene if they see someone on base being sexually harassed or assaulted.

READERS: How can our government best address this epidemic? Does it come down to funding, is it merely the actions of a few bad seeds, or should our military look into overhauling its entire “culture”?

Written by traumalines

May 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm

A first responder’s perspective

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Despite the stress, concern and chaos, they always respond.

Those words should make you stop and think for a moment about our first responders and their actions during the recent tornados which have ravaged the south.

During and after these massive storms destroyed everything in their wake, while most residents were fleeing from the wreckage and the danger, the first responders were right there in the thick of it all, risking their lives to save others.

Here’s a first-hand look at pilot Robbie Tester’s perspective from the recent storms in the Southern U.S.:

Robbie Tester says his crew put on many hats that night, searching for and saving as many victims as they could.  He says it’s hard because you always fear the next call may be for one of your family members or friends.  But through the stress, concern, and chaos, they still always respond.

Last Wednesday, the storms so bad they couldn’t even fly through them.  Tester says, “There were numerous requests coming in for Lifeforce helicopters, but up until then we weren’t able to fly because the weather was just so bad.”

So Tester’s crew of 6 took off on the ground instead, taking an ambulance to Dade County.  Where, before they could help, they had to hide, staying safe through another storm.  “We went in basement at city hall and waited it out, and you could see it going around trenton cause you could see debris falling from tornado.”

As soon as it passed, paramedics went to work, searching for victims, seeing emotional injuries.  “It’s pretty much all trauma, the things you hear about but don’t see very often, devastating blunt and penetrating traumas.”

Tester says it was the worst local catastrophe he’s ever seen…

Click here to read the rest of the story of Robbie and his crew of first responders. Be sure to check out the video as well.

Written by traumalines

May 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Gulf Oil Spill: One Year Later

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When a disaster like the Gulf oil spill happens, it’s easy to think that things may never get better. Yet as the months pass and the clean-up effort intensifies, hope begins to spring forth that businesses will recover, environmental habitats will slowly improve and new spawns of wildlife will repopulate the waters and the wetlands.

However, one year later, several issues still remain…

According to National Geographic, scientists say they are still documenting animal deaths and deformaties that are likely related to last year’s spill:

On the first anniversary of the Gulf oil spill, scientists are observing strange deaths and deformities in animals that could be related to the disaster, experts say.

In the past six months, the numbers of dolphin and sea turtle deaths in the Gulf of Mexico have risen, and some fish that inhabit the Gulf’s coral reefs have developed abnormalities.

But others say the biggest concern one year after the spill is mental health:

Now, a year after the Gulf oil spill, there are concerns that even though the ecological effects of the accident aren’t as great as initially feared, residents along the coast might suffer the same fate their predecessors in Alaska did. A forthcoming study of Gulf Coast residents affected by the spill — conducted by Picou, Liesel Ritchie of the University of Colorado and Duane Gill of Oklahoma State University — found that one-fifth of respondents qualified as being under severe stress, and one-fourth were in moderate stress. Those numbers are comparable to stress levels in the Prince William Sound area a few months after the Valdez spill.

What’s especially disconcerting about the Gulf oil spill and the mental health recovery effort is one of the main mechanisms set up to repay residents for time and money lost, has been said to be one of the main causes of continued mental stress in the Gulf:

The irony in the Gulf is that the one measure that was put in place specifically to reduce stress and get the community back on its feet quickly — the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which pays out damages from the spill — seems to be a major source of distress. The GCCF, which is run by Boston lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, was set up to disburse the $20 billion in funds put aside by BP to make the Gulf right, but since it began operations last August, residents have complained about slow payments, baffling paperwork and unfair settlements. There is confusion about whether lawyers should be involved, and anger over the fact that any resident accepting a final settlement from the fund has to forswear the right to sue BP or anyone else connected to the spill. The operation clearly isn’t perfect, but it’s “doing what’s intended,” Feinberg told reporters on April 18. For Gulf Coast residents, however, those good intentions are taking too long to play out.

Unfortunately, it is all too evident that the recovery effort in the Gulf is still fully underway, and the mental health recovery from this traumatic event still has a long way to go.

Click here to read all our previous posts on the Gulf spill and its impact on mental health.

Written by traumalines

April 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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