Breaking the myths behind Mindfulness practice for the benefit of Trauma Survivors

1. Don’t need to close your eyes during mindfulness meditation.

2. Don’t need to sit still to do mindfulness meditation.

3. Staying present in the moment non-judgmentally, even while walking, eating or working, is what is truly being mindful.

4. Don’t need to shut off your mind as your brain is always going to be active, especially with a trauma history.

5. Don’t need to focus on your breath. Trauma victims find this especially triggering with unpredictable outcomes.

6. Mindfulness meditation is not for quick turnaround of results.

7. Mindfulness meditation is not for everyone!

DBT part 2

Today was all about understanding the dialectics or doing both the acceptance and change of the client’s target (problem) behavior. Unlike CBT, which is focused on change purely, DBT focuses on finding a solution acceptable to both client and therapist that includes both approaches of solving the target behavior called the synthesis.

Then we dived into behavior therapy, specifically operant and classic conditioning. We did understand the positive & negative reinforcement and punishment concepts.

Following this, we did a case specific behavior chain analysis that is essentially a functional analysis of identifying the target behavior, recognizing the precipitating event or the antecedent in general behavior therapy language, in light of that day’s specific vulnerability factors for that client like lack of sleep or hunger etc. It is to be noted that, when identifying the precipitating event, we also want to know what thought & emotion led the client to do the target behavior- the culminating F it moment! These are the key controlling variables we want to track across chain analyses of various events of such critical nature over time. These will show a pattern, that we can then use to reinforce relevant skills that were used during such crises events , as identified as controlling variables. This is a good way to problem solve, is what I understand.

Well that’s it from me on DBT learnings so far ! Enjoy!

Cheers,

Shrivi

DBT part 1

This day has been filled with understanding mindfulness in light of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). I understood the difference between reasonable mind, emotional mind (extremes) and the wise mind that sits at the intersection of these extremes. Wise mind as I understand is to come from a deep sense of knowing the truth! It’s definitely a Zen acceptance concept adapted well in therapy.

I really appreciated the importance given to self-validation to be placed in high priority above other validation strategies used in DBT.

Tomorrow we look at behavior therapy side of things along with details on chain analysis!

See you tomorrow!

Cheers,

Shrivi

Sitting with one’s own emotions

Sitting with my own emotions has been the hardest during recovery. Not knowing the reason behind certain emotions have always been a trigger of their own. But my own words to encourage myself to stay with them helps in a way to take a step back, acknowledge the presence of strong emotions currently, understand that these are present and finally accept them as they are. Acceptance is key in mindfulness. Moreover, self acceptance is crucial. If there is no self-acceptance, there is this new void created expecting it to be possibly filled by others. This becomes a never ending cycle after a few personal storms of our strong emotions, and can possibly lead to depression.

Going along, I realized sitting with my emotions, even while am doing other day to day activities, can be possible on a background thread, being the multitasking individuals that we all are now. It is much different than brewing on “worries”. It is differentiated by focusing on the emotion itself and appreciating its presence. Slowly we may observe that there is an unwinding in ourself, after identifying a triggering event. After this I try to draw a parallel to possible past experiences that come close to this triggering event that caused the strong emotion within. If there are past experiences that come close to this triggering event, then we struck gold! How did we handle that? How did we feel emotionally then? How did we feel physically then? What bodily reactions happened? A quick body scan meditation would help. Taking in these, one step at a time was crucial for me, as steps can be mixed up, especially when multitasking…There are plethora of options on how to move forward after this step of body scan, like personal journaling, one’s usual coping skills, exercise and meditation, and good therapy.

Hope you can sit with this process.

Have a wonderful day ahead!

Best,

Shrivi

 

Affirmations and Summaries

If all that I grasped from Miller and Rollnick’s book was how to do affirmations and summaries , I think my day was well spent! I loved the practice of role playing to summarize and affirm case studies of imaginary clients, and it was totally helpful. It put my senses of reflections in perspective and gave me an extra push to recognize strengths, efforts, values and skills in my clients😅 through these attuned reflections, aka affirmations!

Summaries can be transitional , linking as well as collective and can be rendered merely to fill an awkward pause in the conversation or as we are inundated with too much info and all you need is a break to collect your thoughts so far.

Unjumbled my day through this feat!

Enjoy a wonderful evening!

Cheers,

Shrivi

Cognitive distortions

Cognitive distortions arising from negative core beliefs are something to be deeply analyzed on a daily basis, for the automatic thoughts crossing our minds!

Taking a step back and looking at what just happened in our mind is all it takes to stay present with ourself and really being true to our personality.

Measuring the possibility of our core beliefs to be even slightly incorrect based on the existing evidence shown by the people around us and other environmental factors is very critical!

Here’s to looking closely at our thoughts that sometimes make no sense in hindsight! Lol!

Have a great weekend!

Best,

Srivi

Person-centered theory

We know there is this medical model of psychiatry that comes with diagnoses and labels that hurt the client’s experience with an authority of the diagnostician. To help move away from the painful labels of the client, one can rely on what is called the person-centered theory or client-based theory. Person-based theory is that which places focus on the client as the expert in the therapeutic relationship between the psychologist/social worker and the client.

Motivational interviewing at its best

To me Motivational interviewing is the most person centered approach available for a therapist to adapt. I believe I like the rolling with resistance aspect of it the most, knowing there’s nothing worse than entering into an argument with a client or even worse get in to a heated conversation leading into a full blown conflict.

There’s the broader framework of stages of change that helps baseline the approach and introduce the client to a new perspective of what’s ahead of them in this therapeutic alliance.

I am also intrigued by the ability to appreciate and sit with the client during their ambivalence, although there’s a lot of stepping back in progress and sitting in silence of the client through their confusions about why they need to change.

Looking forward to starting a 6-week group therapy curriculum at work based on motivational interviewing soon!

Cbt as I understand it

The premise of cognitive-behavior therapy(CBT) includes the reorganization of an individuals own statements and beliefs to develop a synchronization with his or her behavior.  A relationship exists between thoughts (or cognitions), emotions, and behaviors that create cause and effect in how the individual experiences events and situations.  Human nature, says that individuals have the potential for rational and irrational thinking. This irrational thinking is identified as the basic problem in mental disorders of depression and anxiety where CBT is employed.

The constant rewiring of thoughts using positive rational statements forms the basis of Cognitive behavioral therapy. Examples of rewiring irrational thoughts with positive statements:

Rewire “I’m bad” with “I’m enough”

Rewire “I cant do this” with “I can try this”

Rewire “I’m weak” with “I’m strong enough to go for a walk”

So on and So forth simple translations/rewiring.

Trying to see the goodness in everyday life, when everything seems so gloomy, due to the automatic negative thought script running, is the real deal of cognitive behavioral therapy, as I understand it.

Hope this helps people in actively engaging in the therapy tactics as it is critical for recovery for the client to full engage and involve themselves in this REWIRING process.

Happy thoughts!

Finding Hope in recovery

Finding Hope

When preoccupied in an addictive substance or behavior, it not always easy to see a life beyond the addiction; beyond the chaos, pain and suffering. But hope can be found. There is no right or wrong way to find hope. Sometimes it comes easy, and sometimes we need to work to find hope.

Below are a few ways that have helped our clients find hope even during times of deep despair.

Listen to Stories of Hope
Listening to stories of hope, success and triumphs of others can help us find hope. These stories not only inspire us, but also shed light on strategies of finding and sustaining hope even during the darkest times.

Think of the Future
Look into the future and identify who and what’s important to you. It could be a loved one such as a child, spouse or parents. It can also be an event or something you always wanted to do. Looking into the future helps cultivate a purpose and direction in life (i.e. hope).

Positive Affirmations
Though a simple process, positive affirmations do work. The repetition of positive affirmations leads to belief, and belief is at the heart of hope. Affirmations such as ‘I am strong, I can overcome my challenges, I am a new person, I feel new hope and I can recover’ rebuild a sense of self-worth and your belief that you are capable of achieving your goals. Not only do affirmations build belief, but also a confidence and a drive for change and action.

Leaning on a Higher Power
Many find hope by reaching for a higher power. This could be through spirituality, religion or philosophy. Reaching to a higher power is actually Step 2 in the 12-Step Process, “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”. Simplified this reads as ‘There is help for my problem and I believe I can address it’.

Accept Your Current Situation
For someone it may be hard to accept that they are currently in a bad place. But the courage of acceptance is the first step in desiring a better future (i.e hope). Acceptance helps us realize that our current situation is not where we want to be, and helps us develop a vision of where we want to be. Without acceptance, we cannot take control of our destiny to reach a better tomorrow.

Have Realistic and Meaningful Plan
It is action that makes hopes come true. By the mere fact of developing a plan for a better future you will build hope. The more your plan, with firm action steps and dates, you will come to realize that your vision is truly attainable.

The journey and recovery from addiction is never an easy one. No one can last long and keep fighting for recovery without hope. Hope is a central ingredient in our recovery. Finding hope and meaning, together with a solid plan, helps us move forward on our journey of recovery.

“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope” – Martin Luther

By George Ratnanather