Complex PTSD Preverbal Memories Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Healing Childhood Trauma

Resources for Trauma Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Early childhood traumatic events include experiences of neglect, feeling like you didn’t belong or were unwanted, or feeling chronically misunderstood. You might have grown up in a family where your parents had unresolved traumas of their own, which impaired their ability to attend to your emotional needs. Or, in more extreme situations you may been exposed to dangerous abuse. Chronic unresolved childhood trauma is referred to as Complex PTSD (C-PTSD).

Psychologist and neuroscientist, Dr. Allan Schore identifies that our earliest preverbal memories are neither verbal nor stored as images. Instead, they exist as motor patterns and sensations. They are blueprints of our earliest relationships represented by psychophysiological arousal and emotion. Even once a child develops language, traumatic memories are often stored in a disorganized fashion. If you experienced childhood trauma, you may feel burdened by physical and emotional pain or feel haunted by fragments of disturbing memories.

“In order to successfully work with preverbal memories, you must find a way to access the somatic experience related to these early interpersonal exchanges. It is important to know that you can heal C-PTSD. Even though the path to healing can feel daunting, remember that all journeys start with a single step.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Boundaries and the Self-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Boundaries and Relationships

Complex PTSD Dr. Arielle Schwartz

This post addresses the role of boundaries as instrumental to healing trauma, especially childhood trauma. Boundaries are the limits that help to define the self. They create the distinction, “this is me and that is you.” Boundaries are meant to be adaptive and responsive to our environment. For example, when you feel safe, your boundaries can be more flexible allowing for greater emotional or physical intimacy with another person. However, when you feel threatened or are unsafe your boundaries become more defined and can help you protect yourself by saying “no, this doesn’t feel good.”

“Without a boundary, you will be more likely to give in to others. With too rigid of a boundary, you risk feeling isolated. Having clear boundaries helps you adapt the level of emotional or physical intimacy in the moment. Healthy boundaries help with decision making and allow you to take responsibility for your actions and thoughts. Maintaining successful boundaries involves accepting the fact that you cannot please others all of the time. They help you ask for what you need, even though you may be told no or risk feeling rejected. Ultimately, healthy boundaries facilitate self-respect and a sense of your own worth.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Shame in Complex PTSD-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Freedom from Shame

Acute Traumatic Stress Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Childhood traumas can range from having faced extreme violence and neglect to having reckoned with feelings of not belonging, being unwanted, or feeling chronically misunderstood. You may have grown up in an environment where your curiosity and enthusiasm were constantly devalued. Perhaps you were brought up in a family where your parents had unresolved traumas of their own, which impaired their ability to attend to your emotional needs. Or, you may have faced vicious sexual or physical attacks. In all such situations, it is common to develop defenses around your most vulnerable feelings.

When childhood trauma continues over time and remains unresolved a form of post-traumatic stress can result called Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). This has significant consequences on mental and emotional health. It is understandable to experience feelings of helplessness and shame in complex PTSD.

“In order to heal, most people with C-PTSD must confront hopeless thoughts, painful emotions, and intolerable sensations. Navigating this territory requires careful guidance. It is all too common to get stuck in avoidance patterns, fall in a pit of despair, or become imprisoned by the negative thoughts. You can find freedom from shame and helplessness. This process requires gentleness, acceptance, and persistence.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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The Complex PTSD Workbook-Dr. Arielle Schwartz


I am excited to announce my new book, The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control & Becoming Whole! It is now available on Amazon and you can click here to order.

Those affected by complex PTSD (C-PTSD) commonly feel as though there is something fundamentally wrong with them-that somewhere inside there is a part of them that is broken. Though untrue, such beliefs can feel extremely real and frightening. Difficult as it may be, facing one’s PTSD from unresolved childhood trauma is a brave, courageous act…and with the right guidance, healing is possible.

In The Complex PTSD Workbook, you’ll learn all about complex PTSD and gain valuable insight into the types of symptoms associated with unresolved childhood trauma. Unlike other books, this workbook applies a mindful, strength-based perspective to develop and integrate your positive beliefs and behaviors. Within, you will find information about common misdiagnoses and explore a synthesis of therapeutic methods for healing including somatic therapy, EMDR, CBT, DBT, and mind-body perspectives. Importantly, this book creates opportunities for personal reflection using writing exercises to explore how you feel as related to the material presented.

“Complex PTSD is defined by a set of symptoms that are the result of pain and stress that often began at a very early age—they could be all you’ve known. Naturally, these early experiences shape your perspective of yourself and the world. Healing asks that you turn toward your past to find relief from the weight of trauma. As a result, you become less defined by your history and have greater choice about your future. Take comfort in this: your symptoms are the result of learned ineffective beliefs and behaviors and they can be replaced by a positive mindset and health-promoting behaviors.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Overcoming Barriers in Complex PTSD-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Healing Complex PTSD

The Complex PTSD Workbook

Healing from complex PTSD takes time and requires commitment. This is because exposure to neglect or abuse during childhood leaves a profound and persistent mark on your body and mind. Within psychotherapy, clients who do not get better are called “resistant.” Unfortunately, resistance is too often misattributed to a lack of willpower, laziness, or stubbornness. As a result, clients who are most in need of support are left feeling misunderstood or risk losing faith in therapy.

“If you have been told you are a resistant client, it is important to understand what dynamics might be at play. I invite you to think of resistance as a normal process of self-protection. Moreover, become curious—resistance is information and your job is to understand the message. This process requires compassion for yourself and from your therapist.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Unsettled-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Adapting to Change

Unsettled Dr. Arielle Schwartz

I show up for work and sit with many people, face to face. Unlike most weeks when the theme is very personal; this week has been dominated by the impact of recent unsettling events on people’s lives and psyches. Here is a brief synopsis-my takeaway from the perspective of a psychologist.

“Adapting to change involves orienting yourself towards a sense of safety in the here and now. Give yourself space and time to grieve and know that acceptance doesn’t mean that you are ok with what happened, it means that you choose to go on with your life in a meaningful way. Change, even unwanted change, isn’t all bad. Take a moment to focus on the good as it exists in your life. If there are changes that are out of your control than ask “How can you be the change you want to see in the world.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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The Neurobiology of Trauma-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Informed Treatment for PTSD

Informed Trauma Treatment Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The neurobiology of trauma guides effective healing and recovery. Unresolved PTSD can leave you feeling both overwhelmed and shut down and it is beneficial to know not only why this is happening but how to most effectively respond.

If you have heard of stress you likely are familiar with the notion of fight or flight; or the body’s built in protection mechanism to flee from fight against a dangerous situation or predator. PTSD researchers and treatment providers have also taken a strong interest in the “immobilization” responses that typically occur when fight or flight do not restore safety. Immobilization can present in different ways. Sometimes as a high alert stillness or a freeze of the body, sometimes as a state of fright, and sometimes as dissociation in a flag or faint response.

“We must look beyond fight and flight in the healing of PTSD. Whether you are an individual healing from trauma or a therapist in the role of helping others, this post will help you better understand the stages of trauma response. The neurobiology of trauma provides valuable information to not only understand symptoms but also to guide effective treatment.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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EMDR Therapy in Relationship-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Healing Complex PTSD with EMDR Therapy

EMDR Therapy in Relationship

The other day a colleague sent me a link to a website offering virtual EMDR Therapy. In disbelief, we both remarked on the inappropriateness of such an offering for it misses an essential component of healing…the therapeutic relationship.

Recovery from developmental trauma requires that you have a reparative experience in relationship. Within the ground of another—in this case, a compassionate therapist—you embrace experiences of confusion, discomfort, anger, grief, shame, and pain. A compassionate therapist offers a container of sorts for the feelings and memories that you might be unable to handle alone. And together, you’ll build trust, gain perspective, and find healing tools that work best for you.

In this post, I discuss the process of healing from complex PTSD and dissociation with relationally based EMDR Therapy.

“Whether you are a therapist helping others recover from childhood trauma or you are an individual walking the healing path this post provides valuable guidance. When you are empowered with knowledge and awareness, you can deepen your self-acceptance and reduce the difficult emotions that often accompany developmental trauma. With a greater understanding of complex PTSD and dissociation, you will come away with a deepened appreciation for why EMDR Therapy only makes sense within a relational context.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Vision, Hard Work, and Harvest-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Let’s Catch Up

Dr. Arielle Schwartz

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog and I have several exciting updates to share with you. Here is where the story starts…

I entered 2016 having already achieved several of my professional goals (maintaining a thriving private practice, teaching Trainings for Therapists on EMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology). But this year I wanted more. I named two big Intentions and then Big Magic (thank you Elizabeth Gilbert) happened.

First, I asserted to the universe, “I will create an online offering of my work so that I can reach more people.” Next I stated, “I will write a book.”

I wasn’t sure what form these intentions would take but I started anyway

“This is where the magic begins. When we stare into the invisible veil of the future and we have only our imagination to cross that divide. Sometimes we all can feel frightened or even immobilized by the unknown. But something extraordinary can happen when we project our YES onto that blank slate. And something equally amazing occurs when these intentions are followed with motivation, action, and endurance. This post is about vision, hard work, and harvest.”
Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Acute Traumatic Stress-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Do Not Wait to Heal

Acute Traumatic Stress Dr. Arielle Schwartz

If you have experienced a recent traumatic event NOW is the time to get support. Interventions immediately following a traumatic event help prevent the development of Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). Do not wait. Many people inaccurately believe that they need to “give it time” and do not take advantage of this crucial period of healing.

“This post provides recent trauma survivors with an understanding about the types of feelings and experiences common during the weeks after such terrifying and life altering events. When we have such knowledge we are less likely to feel frightened by the intense emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations that typically occur. As a result we deepen self-compassion for our symptoms and work with rather than against the body-mind connection to facilitate healing.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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