This chapter aims to help clinicians learn stabilization interventions for use in the Preparation Phase of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment. Using these interventions will aid clients in developing readiness for processing trauma, learning how to manage symptoms of dissociation, dealing with affect regulation, and developing the necessary internal cohesion and resources to utilize the EMDR trauma-processing phase. Earlier negative experiences stored dysfunctionally increase vulnerability to anxiety disorders, depression, and other diagnoses. When assessing a client with a complex trauma history, clinicians need to view current symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression as reflections of the earlier traumas. The chapter outlines the strategies dealing with dissociative symptoms, ego state work, and internal stability that help clinicians to develop an individualized treatment plan to successfully guide the client through the EMDR phases of treatment.
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A Developmentally Grounded and Integrative Clinical Approach for Treating Complex Trauma and Dissociative Disorders in Children
Children are exposed to distress, violence, and trauma even before they are born. In-utero and early childhood exposure can contribute to severe medical and psychological consequences. Children who have been exposed to such traumatic events often arrive at the psychotherapist’s office with emotional and behavioral symptoms suggestive of reactive attachment disorder (RAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and dissociation. This chapter reviews relevant theories of dissociation integrated with theories of development to provide a summary of how attachment impacts dissociation. With a developmentally grounded theory of dissociation, the chapter describes clinical interventions for treating the dissociative sequelae of attachment trauma in children. This theoretical framework offers a developmentally grounded and integrative framework for working with children with complex trauma and dissociation. Symptoms of dissociation are common with PTSD, but an extreme response to trauma can be dissociation and dissociative disorders.
This chapter describes the toxic stress often experienced by young homeless children and the effect that this type of stress can have on brain development, behavior, and lifelong health. Mental health and cognitive challenges are abundant among homeless families. Stress can affect maternal cardiovascular function and restrict blood supply to the placenta, potentially reducing fetal nutritional intake or oxygen supply, and lead to reduced fetal growth, increased risk of placental insufficiency, preeclampsia, and preterm delivery. Trauma in early childhood has clear neurological and developmental consequences, especially with regard to brain development and executive functioning. The chronic release of two stress hormones glucocorticoids and cortisol can have damaging effects on neurological functioning and lifelong health. Similarly, exposure to high levels of cortisol inhibit neurogenesis in the hippocampus, further impacting executive functioning and the ability to distinguish safety from danger, a symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This chapter describes maneuvers to access the internal system of the patient as well as means to accelerate or decelerate the work in that process of accessing the self-system. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), ego state therapy, and somatic therapy fit together like hand and glove. An extended preparation phase is often necessary before trauma processing in complex traumatic stress presentations and attachment-related syndromes, particularly when dealing with the sequelae of chronic early trauma. Clinical practice suggests that the adjunctive use of body therapy and ego state interventions can be useful, during stabilization and later on in increasing the treatment response to EMDR. Traditional treatment of complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociative disorders has usually included hypnoanalytic interventions, during which abreaction is considered an important part of treatment.
This chapter discusses the impact of trauma and its treatment through discussion of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its neurological components-especially those affecting memory, evidence-based therapies (EBTs) for the treatment of PTSD, and the implications for practice, policy, and research. Two primary predictors exist for a person developing PTSD. The first one is experiencing dissociation during the trauma. The second predictor is the person developing acute stress disorder. Specifically, neuroimaging shows how PTSD affects neurological functioning in the brain. The primary regions of the brain affected by PTSD are the medial prefrontal cortex, the left anterior cingulate cortex, the thalamus, the medial temporal and hippocampal region, and the amygdala. The different regions of the brain associated with memory encoding are: left prefrontal cortex, left temporal/fusiform, anterior cingulate, and hipocampal formation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been used extensively to treat PTSD.
This chapter focuses on identifying and working with dissociative symptoms and dissociative disorders in a therapeutic context, providing a road map to assist with the pacing and planning of clinical interventions. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can be conceptualized as a household strength processor that can accommodate the usual processing requirements of daily life. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been historically defined as requiring a trauma that is outside the range of normal human experience. Hypoarousal and parasympathetic activation that are an intrinsic part of dissociative symptoms are much more difficult to assess. The original painful memories live on in flashbacks and nightmares as well as in reenactments of the unconscious dynamics captured from the family of origin’s enactments of perpetration, victimization, rescuing, and neglect. Excessive sympathetic nervous system activation is easily construed to be an indicator of psychopathology.
This chapter reviews the disturbances in self-referential processing and social cognition in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to early-life trauma. It talks about the neural underpinnings of self-referential processing and examines how they may relate the integrity of the default mode network (DMN). The chapter describes the deficits in social cognition, with a particular focus on theory of mind in PTSD and the neural circuitry underlying direct versus avert eye contact. It then addresses the implications for assessment and treatment. Johnson demonstrated that self-referential processing is associated with the activation of cortical midline structures and therefore overlaps with key areas of the DMN in healthy individuals. Healthy individuals exhibited faster responses to the self-relevance of personal characteristics than to the accuracy of general facts. Less activation of the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) was observed for the contrast of self-relevance of personal characteristics relative to general facts as compared to controls.
This book was conceived out of the authors' shared vision to synthesize key neurobiological developments with effective developments in clinical practice to offer both understanding and practical guidance for the many practitioners working to heal people burdened with traumatic sequelae. It is unique in bringing in all levels of the brain from the brainstem, through the thalamus and basal ganglia, to the limbic structures, including the older forms of cortex, to the neocortex. The book looks at the neurochemistry of peritraumatic dissociation (PD) and explores the effects on neuroplasticity and the eventual structural dissociation. Individual chapters focus on the definition of PD and tonic immobility (TI) and their associations with posttraumatic psychopathology, and review disturbances in self-referential processing and social cognition in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to early-life trauma. Separate chapters focus on the modulatory role of the neuropetides in attachment as well as autonomic regulation, and highlight mesolimbic dopamine (ML-DA) system as central to the experiences of affiliation, attachment urge when under threat, attachment urge during experience of safety, and to the distress of isolation and/or submission. The book while increasing awareness of different parts of the self and ultimately creating a more stable sense of self, also incorporates psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral, and hypnotic methods, as well as specific ego state, somatic/sensorimotor therapies, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and variations of EMDR suitable for working with trauma in the attachment period. The latter methods are explicitly information-processing methods that address affective and somatic modes of processing.
This chapter provides information for therapists to integrate theories of neuroscience into the practice of child psychotherapy. Neuroscientists have described how the brain develops, documented the impact of external experiences on the developing brain, and integrated theories of neurodevelopment and neuroplasticity into our understanding of the impact of our interpersonal relationships on our brain. The chapter focuses on developmental trauma disorder and the research on the impact of trauma on children. The majority of the research on trauma in children has focused on the assessment and diagnosis of Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, there are a limited number of studies that have documented the efficacy of the treatment of PTSD in children. The chapter reviews diagnoses specific to neurodevelopment, including autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and sensory processing disorders (SPD).
The current common combat era casualties have been posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), head injuries, hearing loss or impairment, and polytrauma. Common causes of military traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are blasts, falls, vehicular accidents, and penetrating fragments or bullets. Mild TBIs (mTBIs) usually are not detectable by lab tests or scans, which typically show normal results. The most common assessment instrument used for TBI is the Glasgow Coma Scale, which scores eye opening responses, motor responses, and verbal responses. Findings of effectiveness of psychosocial rehabilitation models for civilians with TBI and their families suggest that developing models of supported education and employment for injured veterans may be similarly helpful. Stigma, military stoicism, mTBI-related executive function compromise, and PTSD-related avoidance symptoms are barriers to care for neurological disorders, but disclosure of care is still perceived as possibly leading to loss of career or current employment, both among active duty and veterans.