Perceiving the World Through Altered Eyes: Understanding How PTSD Changes the Sufferer’s View from a Polyvagal Perspective

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex condition that not only affects the mind but also alters the way individuals view the world around them. By examining PTSD through the lens of the polyvagal theory, we can gain insights into the body’s autonomic nervous system responses to trauma, shedding light on the altered perception experienced by sufferers. In this blog post, we will delve into how PTSD changes the way individuals view the world, drawing from the principles of the polyvagal theory and its implications for healing and recovery.

  1. Understanding the Polyvagal Theory
  • Introducing the Polyvagal theory and its relevance to PTSD
  • Exploring the three states of the autonomic nervous system: ventral vagal, sympathetic, and dorsal vagal
  • How trauma disrupts the body’s autonomic balance
  1. The Impact of Trauma on Perception
  • Examining the altered perceptions experienced by individuals with PTSD
  • Hyperarousal and hypervigilance: A heightened sense of threat and danger
  • The disconnect between actual and perceived levels of safety
  1. Altered Social Engagement and Connection
  • The role of the ventral vagal system in social engagement
  • How trauma affects the ability to trust and connect with others
  • Repercussions for relationships and social interactions
  1. Perceptual Filters and Cognitive Processing
  • How trauma shapes the cognitive processing of information
  • Heightened reactivity and distorted perceptions of reality
  • The impact on memory, attention, and decision-making
  1. Healing and Recovery from a Polyvagal Perspective
  • The importance of creating a safe environment for trauma survivors
  • Techniques for regulating the autonomic nervous system and promoting safety
  • Integrating the principles of the polyvagal theory into therapeutic interventions
  1. Cultivating Resilience and Restoring Perception
  • Building self-awareness and self-regulation skills
  • Engaging in trauma-informed therapies to reframe perceptions
  • Rediscovering a sense of safety, connection, and trust in the world

Conclusion: Through the lens of the polyvagal theory, we can begin to grasp how PTSD alters the way individuals perceive the world. Understanding the impact of trauma on the autonomic nervous system provides valuable insights into the challenges faced by sufferers and paves the way for trauma-informed interventions that promote healing and recovery. By recognizing the altered perceptions of those with PTSD, we can foster empathy, support, and provide effective strategies for restoring a sense of safety, connection, and trust in the world.

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5 Empowering Ways to Cultivate Lasting Self-Esteem

Building Self-esteem

Self-esteem is the foundation of our mental and emotional well-being. It impacts our relationships, achievements, and overall happiness. Building and nurturing self-esteem is an ongoing process that requires attention, practice, and self-compassion. In this blog post, we will explore five unique and empowering ways to build self-esteem that can help you develop a stronger sense of self and thrive in all areas of life.

  1. Embrace Self-Compassion:

Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance. It involves acknowledging your imperfections and failures without harsh self-judgment. Cultivating self-compassion allows you to develop a healthy relationship with yourself and counter negative self-talk. Remember to offer yourself the same compassion and empathy you would offer a dear friend in challenging times.

Action Steps:

  • Practice self-talk: Replace self-critical thoughts with self-compassionate and supportive statements.
  • Engage in self-care: Prioritize activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul, such as exercise, meditation, and hobbies.
  • Seek support: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals for guidance and encouragement.

 

  1. Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate Achievements:

Setting realistic goals and celebrating your accomplishments, big or small, is vital for building self-esteem. When you set achievable goals and actively work towards them, you develop a sense of competence and self-worth. Acknowledging and celebrating your achievements reinforces positive self-perception and motivates you to continue growing.

Action Steps:

  • Identify your values and aspirations: Reflect on your passions and interests to set meaningful goals aligned with your values.
  • Break goals into manageable steps: Divide larger goals into smaller, achievable tasks to maintain motivation and track progress.
  • Celebrate milestones: Acknowledge and reward yourself for reaching milestones, even if they seem minor. Treat yourself to something you enjoy or engage in a meaningful self-affirmation ritual.

 

  1. Practice Self-Expression:

Self-expression allows you to authentically communicate your thoughts, emotions, and creativity. Engaging in activities that facilitate self-expression can boost self-esteem by fostering a deeper connection with your true self and amplifying your unique voice.

Action Steps:

  • Journaling: Write freely and openly about your experiences, feelings, and dreams. Journaling promotes self-reflection, clarity, and self-awareness.
  • Artistic outlets: Explore various creative outlets, such as painting, singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, to express yourself without fear of judgment.
  • Public speaking or joining a club: Practice articulating your thoughts and opinions in a supportive environment, like a public speaking club or a hobby-based group.

 

  1. Cultivate Resilience:

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, challenges, and failures. Developing resilience is crucial for building self-esteem because it allows you to view difficulties as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than as reflections of personal worth.

Action Steps:

  • Reframe setbacks: Instead of dwelling on failure, view setbacks as valuable lessons and opportunities for personal development.
  • Practice self-reflection: Reflect on your strengths and areas for growth, and focus on continuous improvement rather than perfection.
  • Build a support network: Surround yourself with positive and supportive individuals who encourage you to persevere during challenging times.

 

  1. Engage in Positive Self-Talk and Affirmations:

The way we talk to ourselves significantly influences our self-esteem. By replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations, you can shift your mindset and build a more positive self-perception.

Action Steps:

  • Identify negative self-talk patterns: Pay attention to the negative thoughts that arise throughout the day. Challenge and replace them with positive, realistic statements.

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10 signs of birth trauma in babies and children

birth trauma unsettled baby

As parents, we want nothing more than to protect our children from harm and ensure that they grow up happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. However, sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, and our children may experience trauma that can have a lasting impact on their emotional and physical well-being.

One type of trauma that can affect babies and children is birth trauma, which refers to any physical or emotional harm that occurs during the birth process. If your child has experienced a traumatic birth, it’s important to recognize the signs and seek help to address any issues that may arise. Here are ten signs of birth trauma to look out for:

    1. Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
    2. Difficulty breastfeeding or feeding in general
    3. Reflux or colic-like symptoms
    4. Extreme fussiness or irritability
    5. Excessive crying or inability to be comforted
    6. Hypersensitivity to touch or movement
    7. Muscle tension or stiffness
    8. Difficulty regulating body temperature or breathing patterns
    9. Delayed developmental milestones
    10. Reduced social interaction or increased withdrawal

Birth trauma can be caused by any event before or during birthing such as the umbilical cord being caught around the babies neck causing difficulty breathing, baby being stuck and requiring forceps delivery or c section, baby requiring emergency procedures before or after birth, and other events that can cause shock, or trauma in the birthing process.  Somatic therapy and counselling can help babies with birth trauma by addressing their physical symptoms, helping to regulate their nervous system, help them complete stuck processes, and providing a safe and nurturing environment for healing, parental support and recovery. Mums can suffer from birth trauma to. Seek support from an experienced trauma therapist if you think you might have experienced a traumatic birth. This can include miscarriage, still birth, c sections or emergency procedures.

Mom female hands teach the infant baby toddler to push

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The importance of safety in relationships

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The Importance of Safety in Relationships: An introduction to Polyvagal Theory and how it helps in understanding relationships

Human beings are social animals, and our ability to form and maintain meaningful relationships is central to our survival and well-being. Yet, relationships can be fraught with difficulties, misunderstandings, and even trauma. One key factor that shapes the quality of our relationships is the sense of safety that we feel with others. In this post, we’ll explore the importance of safety in relationships from the perspective of Polyvagal Theory.

Polyvagal Theory, developed by neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Porges, provides a framework for understanding how our autonomic nervous system (ANS) responds to cues of safety and danger in our environment. According to Polyvagal Theory, the ANS has evolved to detect and respond to threats in a hierarchical manner, with different circuits being activated depending on the nature and intensity of the perceived danger.

At the bottom of the hierarchy is the freeze response, which is activated when a person perceives a threat that is overwhelming or inescapable. This response is characterized by immobilization, dissociation, and a shutdown of bodily functions such as breathing and digestion. When we’re in a state of freeze, we’re not able to engage with others or form meaningful relationships.

The next level up in the hierarchy is the fight or flight response, which is activated when a person perceives a threat that can be overcome by either fighting or running away. This response is characterized by increased heart rate, respiration, and muscle tension, and is designed to prepare us for action. However, when we’re in a state of fight or flight, we may be too agitated or reactive to engage in constructive communication or connection with others.

Finally, at the top of the hierarchy is the social engagement system, which is activated when a person perceives safety and a sense of connection with others. This response is characterized by the release of hormones such as oxytocin and the activation of the ventral vagus nerve, which regulates heart rate, breathing, and digestion. When we’re in a state of social engagement, we’re able to connect with others, communicate effectively, and form meaningful relationships.

So what does this mean for our relationships? It means that creating a sense of safety and connection with others is essential for building and maintaining healthy relationships. When we feel safe, our social engagement system is activated, allowing us to communicate effectively, empathize with others, and engage in constructive problem-solving. On the other hand, when we feel threatened or unsafe, our ANS may activate the fight or flight response, making it difficult to communicate effectively and damaging our relationships.

Of course, creating a sense of safety in relationships is easier said than done. Many of us have experienced trauma or difficult life circumstances that have shaped our nervous systems in ways that make it difficult to feel safe with others. Additionally, our current social and political climate can create a sense of threat and uncertainty that can activate our fight or flight response.

However, by understanding the role of the ANS in shaping our social behavior, we can begin to cultivate practices that help us feel more safe and connected with others. Some practices that may be helpful include:

  1. Mindfulness: By practicing mindfulness, we can learn to observe our thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them. This can help us regulate our nervous system and respond to social cues in a more flexible and adaptive manner.

  2. Self-compassion: By cultivating self-compassion, we can create a sense of safety within ourselves that can help us feel more secure in our relationships with others.

  3. Connection: By cultivating connections with others, we can activate our social engagement system and create a sense of safety and belonging.

  4. Trauma-informed therapy: For those who have experienced trauma, trauma-informed therapy

Happy multi-generation family gathering around dining table and having fun during a lunch.

In conclusion, the importance of safety in relationships cannot be overstated. The Polyvagal Theory provides us with a framework for understanding how our nervous system responds to social cues of safety and danger, and how this shapes our behavior in relationships. By cultivating practices that help us feel more safe and connected with others, such as mindfulness, self-compassion, connection, and trauma-informed therapy, we can create healthier and more fulfilling relationships. Ultimately, by prioritizing safety and connection in our relationships, we can create a world where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

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Seven Areas of Post Traumatic Growth Possible After Trauma Integration

Post traumatic growth, Sad woman becomes happy and free. People letting go of fears, sadness, grief and pain concept.

Experiencing trauma can be one of the most difficult and painful experiences a person can go through. But it can also be a source of profound wisdom and growth. Here are some key insights and lessons that people often learn from their experiences of trauma:

1. Resilience: Many people who have survived trauma discover that they possess a remarkable inner strength and resilience. They may find that they are able to endure and overcome challenges that they once thought were insurmountable.

2. Compassion: Surviving trauma can also deepen a person’s capacity for empathy and compassion. Having experienced pain and suffering themselves, they may be more attuned to the struggles of others and more able to offer understanding and support.

3. Gratitude: Trauma can also teach people to appreciate the good things in life more deeply. Having faced the darkness, they may have a newfound appreciation for the light, and a greater sense of gratitude for the blessings in their lives.

4. Perspective: Trauma can also provide a unique perspective on life. It can help people see what is truly important, and let go of the things that are not. It can also give them a deeper understanding of the fragility of life, and a greater sense of urgency to live each day to the fullest.

5. Courage: Surviving trauma often requires great courage, and many people find that their experiences have helped them develop greater bravery and resilience in the face of adversity.

6. Self-awareness: Trauma can also be a catalyst for self-reflection and self-awareness. People who have survived trauma may gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and their deepest desires and fears.

7. Healing: Finally, trauma can be a catalyst for profound healing and transformation. People who have experienced trauma may be forced to confront their deepest wounds and work through them in order to heal. This can lead to a greater sense of peace, fulfillment, and purpose in life.

In conclusion, while trauma is undoubtedly a difficult and painful experience, it can also be a source of profound wisdom and growth. Survivors of trauma often discover inner strength, compassion, gratitude, perspective, courage, self-awareness, and healing that they might not have otherwise found. By embracing these insights, survivors can move forward with greater resilience, empathy, and purpose in life.

A trauma therapist can play a vital role in helping someone heal from trauma and achieve post-traumatic growth. By creating a safe and supportive environment, helping to regulate emotions, developing coping strategies, addressing negative beliefs and attitudes, encouraging growth, facilitating somatic therapies, and supporting a trauma-informed lifestyle, a trauma therapist can help a person move forward from trauma with greater resilience, purpose, and fulfillment.

 

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Difference between a Counsellor and Coach

Difference between a Counsellor and Coach

Counselling & Coaching are two of the most commonly used modalities today to support people who feel they want to improve their life.

People who are looking for improvement usually have one of two reasons for wanting to change:

1. They are unhappy and are mentally or emotionally distressed due to issues they are suffering in an area of their life.
 
2. They are happy but are wanting to reach goals and improve/develop further in an area of their life. eg relationship, business, sport etc.
 
Counselling & Coaching have a lot of similarities and both use psychological theories and modalities to support clients through problems to get to where they want to be.
 
There are some major differences that set them apart.

COUNSELLING

Counselling is a therapy, it deals with psychological and emotional personal healing and trauma recovery.

Counselling is for people with some level of dysfunction or disorder.

Counselling is a confidential service between the counsellor and the client where they work together to heal the client’s issues.

Counselling can be a short or long term process depending on the client’s needs.

Counselling concentrates on the past and present issues.

Counsellors are Diploma or Degree trained and have practical or clinic hours as part of their training.

Qualified counsellors are registered with a regulated board or professional body which follow strict codes of ethics and conduct and require supervision, training and development.

Counselling cost around $80-$250/hr and most clients use between 1 and 6 sessions. Some may continue weekly or monthly sessions as required.

COACHING

Coaching is popular for improvement in personal (life), business or sporting areas of life so I will just use “coaching” as a generalised term for all these areas of coaching.

Coaching focuses on performance improvement and personal and professional or business development.

Coaching is for people who are already functioning healthily and want to improve on what they have already developed.

Coaching takes a present and future focus.

Coaching may be between one or more parties where the coach helps the client develop skills and reach goals, parties may include a boss or teacher or sporting coach who is also invested in the clients goals.

Coaching is usually a time-limited process where both parties meet regularly to achieve an outcome.

Coaches can be qualified or unqualified and may or may not be registered and follow a strict code of conduct that requires professional development or supervision. They may have their experience from many different industries or skill areas, such as  leadership, management, counselling or psychology. Many counsellors do coaching but not all coaches are counsellors. There are slowly more peak bodies forming in the coaching industry as it is growing in popularity and hopefully that means there will be stricter codes of conduct and training and supervision requirements for the safety of clients.

Coaching costs vary from hourly sessions to yearly contracts. Some may charge $80-1500+/hr to a year costing $15 000+.

It is obvious that there are  many differences in these professions and commonly they co-exist. They can often cross over each other at times and techniques or skills are shared between them and benefit clients in many ways. Many counsellors become coaches and many coaches have had experience in counselling.

If you have any questions regarding this topic you can contact us via the contact us tab.

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