In order for children, teens, and adults to work through traumatic symptoms, the client needs to be able to self-regulate. Talk therapy is not successful until a client begins to regulate from the bottom up. Expressive art therapies help clients master self-regulation. Kay uses sand tray and play therapy, TF-CBT &EMDR to help clients begin to regulate one’s body and brain. (self-regulation). The goal is to assist clients in decreasing symptoms of hyper-arousal (fight, flight, fidget) and hypoarousal symptoms (fatigue, faint, freeze). When someone is hyperaroused, he/she may experience: quick anger (0-to 100), body shaking, anxiety, fighting with others physically or verbally, being defiant, ,high levels of energy, urges to run away, and/or nightmares.
When someone’s brain and body are hypoaroused (freeze, faint) he/she may experience sadness, difficulty getting out of bed, difficulty concentrating,, fatigue and learning difficulties.
Trauma may be developmental (i.e. childhood, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect). It may also be situational such as accidents, violence, hospitalization, etc. Powerful tools are available, such as EMDR and experiential approaches, to help heal the emotional impact of the trauma. This frees up energy for the enjoyment of living. As your emotionally focused therapist, it is my role to help you to identify and create solutions that will enable you to walk a positive path toward growth, well-being, and empowerment.
There are 3 windows of tolerance or regulation. Each child, teen and adult have the innate capacity to handle stress. A person’s ability to handle stress is influenced by genetics, attachment style, helpers in their lives, and relationships. For some clients they have experienced many painful stressors early in life, and their body and brain becomes dysregulated over time because they lose the ability to relax, and they may get stuck in the first zone which is called hyperarousal. When a person or child is getting stuck in hyperarousal zone they fidget, fight, and flight. Children can exhibit hyperactivity, quick anger (0-100), temper tantrums, act younger than their age, experience anxiety, get into physical fights, verbal arguments, defiant with authority figures, have difficulty sleeping, have difficulty with transitions, take out their anger on those they love, throw things, ruin property when angry,. Imagine the Avengers character the Hulk, or an angry alligator, or , or hyperarousal 2)Window of Tolerance and 3) hypoarousal.
When people experience big trauma’s and little trauma’s how brain and body become dysregulated. In the window of hyperarousal, children, teens, and adults may exhibit the 3 F’s: fight, flight, fidget. Children, teens and adults that get stuck in hyperarousal have difficulty relaxing, go from 0-100 when angry; may experience difficulty sleeping, may be hyperactive (but do not have ADHD), are impulsive (don’t think about the consequences), defiant with authority, get in physical fights, or verbally aggressive, self-medicate with marijuana, alcohol, and other substances; always for something bad to happen, don’t feel safe, anxious. The hyperaroused person may experience fast heart rate, shortness of breath, stomach aches, headaches, and perceives threat when there is no threat.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to identify and replace thoughts and beliefs that support depression. Clients will learn the connection between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Kay will teach conflict resolution skills (active listening skills, I-messages, assertive communication, anger management skills, and self-calming skills).
Apart from those, Kay teaches mindfulness skills to decrease avoidance and to increase awareness of thoughts. Through these skills, clients learn to accept their experiences rather than trying to change or control circumstances. Dialectical behavioral therapy may also be used to help with emotional regulation skills, distress tolerance skills, and mindfulness.
Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, clients learn to identify and challenge fearful self-talk and replace it with positive and empowering self-talk. Kay will help clients learn problem-solving strategies to address anxiety (worries). Clients will learn self-calming skills (progressive muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, visual imagery, body scan, Calm, Safe Place, and mindfulness). EMDR therapy is another option for clients to choose to address triggers.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to assist clients in learning how to decrease pain behaviors as well as how to identify negative thought patterns that maintain feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. Kay provides psychoeducation on emotional cycles, behavioral cycles, and thought cycles of chronic pain (developed by the Mayo Clinic).
In addition, Kay will teach self-regulation techniques (i.e., progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, guided imagery, mindfulness, and “Calm Safe Place”). Kay will assist clients in developing a personal plan for difficult days. EMDR is used to reduce pain symptoms as well.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia is used to help clients who have difficulty sleeping. Psychoeducation is provided as well as relaxation and calming strategies.