Strength Based Psychotherapy
Resilience-Informed therapy applies research on resilience to form an integrative mind-body approach to trauma recovery. This strength-based treatment model of care includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT,) Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, Somatic (body-centered) psychology, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and time-tested relational psychotherapy. In short, resilience informed treatment helps you to:
- Review disturbing life events including significant traumas in a safe manner through EMDR Therapy and Somatic interventions
- Tolerate difficult emotions with support
- Build trust in your capacity for healing
- Feel empowered to take an active role in your health and wellness
A positive approach to healing trauma
Resilience is about adaptability, flexibility, and having the ability to respond to life in a manner that creates an effective or even, optimal outcome. We know that exposure to disturbing or traumatic life events is inevitable. But remember:
Following trauma exposure most people experience uncomfortable emotions and sensations such as grief, fear, anxiety, panic, anger, or depression. This is normal AND it is part of your innate resilience process.
Learn more about Resilience here: The Path to Resilience handouts.
Optimize your healing after trauma exposure
PTSD develops when your natural adaptive capacity to respond to a traumatic event isn’t accessible. This can leave you feeling stuck, panicked, or hopeless. However:
With sufficient support most people do recover from PTSD.
Resilience and Growth
Research on resilience shows us the behaviors and beliefs that are associated with greatest adaptation to loss. Based upon a wide review of this research I have brought together the 6 Pillars of Resilience.
- Growth Mindset
- Emotional Intelligence
- Community Connections
- Choice and Control
You can put the 6 Pillars of Resilience into action by identifying activities that you engage in during your daily or weekly routine that support you physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Read more here.
Core Components of Healing
Resilience informed therapy is based in a biopsychosocial approach to care which means we work in partnership and in collaboration with one another. As a strength-based model we start with what is already working in your life.
- Your family history: Successful therapy begins with taking a thorough life history that looks at significant life events including trauma exposure or history of abuse or neglect. We will look at strengths and resources from your childhood and family. We will take a broader look at your family history to discuss significant events that have occurred within your family system that may be influential across generations.
- Explore how awareness of your family legacy can facilitate resilience
- Learn about the transgenerational transmission of trauma
- Trauma Exposure: Resilience informed therapy takes into account the physiological and neurobiological underpinnings of our post trauma reactions and uses this information to navigate through treatment. Awareness of your physiological response to trauma helps you make informed choices about your health care. In what ways might you find yourself stuck in high alert, unable to relax, or locked down in exhaustion? Sometimes we bury painful feelings or memories in order to cope after a traumatic event. Other times we cannot stop thinking about the event. Ultimately we need to process through the emotions, sensations, memories, and beliefs associated with traumatic events in order to successfully move through to the other side. With support, we need to be able to process what happened to us and say, this happened to me and it is over now. In what ways have you successfully navigated challenging or traumatic events in your life?
- Physical Health: A key component of resilience informed therapy is an understanding of the impact of unresolved chronic PTSD on physical health. An influential Kaiser Permanente research project called the ACE (Adverse Childhood Events) study reviewed over 17,000 patients and concluded that patients with a history childhood abuse or neglect were significantly more likely to have multiple health risk factors later in life. The study revealed that a trauma history was a greater predictor of poor health than diet, smoking, and exercise factors combined!
- Support systems: As human beings we cannot fully be understood outside of the context of our relationships in the world. Therefore, resilience informed therapy takes a close look at the presence or lack of current support systems and emphasizes reducing isolation. One of the biggest challenges to building positive support systems is that we tend to re-create relationships that match what we know. Deep inside we may expect to be rejected and we enact this expectation by either choosing a partner who is rejecting or acting in a manner evokes that response in another. Therapy can allow us to increase our awareness of our attachment history within the safety of someone who will not reject us or make us wrong.
Realize your Potential
Processing disturbing or traumatic life events can facilitate growth and a greater sense of purpose, helping you fulfill your potential. Disturbing and traumatic life events are transformative.
- There is often a tendency to avoid feeling the pain of the event. When this happens we tend to feel “cut-off” or disconnected from ourselves and others.
- When we allow ourselves to feel the vulnerable emotions of fear, anger, or grief we often have an experience of discovering we are stronger than we previously believed.
- A profound secondary gain occurs at this point; when we are connected to our own emotions we begin to feel more connected and compassionate towards others as well. We feel less isolated, less damaged, and more human.
As a psychologist; I have the opportunity to hear and witness countless stories of people who have experienced trauma and have come out the other side with a desire to be of service to others.
Resilience Informed Therapy for C-PTSD
You can heal whether you are in recovery from a single traumatic event or from ongoing childhood abuse or neglect. Remember:
You are not broken, in need of fixing. Rather, you are deeply hurt, in need of care.
The following link will take you to a PDF of my slides from the presentation on treating C-PTSD and Dissociation with Integrated EMDR Therapy: A Resilience Informed Therapy Approach
This next link brings you to the link for the PDF of slides from the Therapist Toolbox presentation on Complex PTSD and Dissociation with Integrative EMDR Therapy.
Read the Book
The Complex PTSD Workbook is now available on Amazon! Click here to check it out and increase your toolbox for healing. Whether you are a client or a therapist this book will offer a guided approach to trauma recovery to benefit you or your clients.
See Dr. Arielle Schwartz’s in an interview on Resilience: