Laura Russell, Ph.D., Archive  

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Q. My therapy for PTSD makes me worse.

When I work directly on my Traumatic Events, I end up locked in the pain. And when I ignore the past I end up in a very odd state of mind. I go on cutting sprees and I become really suicidal. I know these are bad and wrong yet I can't stop it. The only good thing about it is I don't feel any pain or turmoil.  

What do I do? 

A. Safe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Work 

When you are in a crisis, the last thing you need to do is active process work on your PTSD symptoms. I know, I know, most people think that is what PTSD therapy is. But not in the beginning. 

At the same time, you want to insure your personal safety. For this, I’d suggest you read this excellent article, Understanding Self Injury by Stuart Sorensen RMN. 

You are important, your life is important. Active process PTSD therapy is very demanding and you need to be able to comfort and care for yourself before you can do that kind of work. So, I’d say that your experiences with your trauma work are normal. 

People learn emotional self-care at home from their parents. If you grew up in an abusive childhood, you didn’t learn good emotional self-care. Again, this makes you normal….not sick or ‘crazy’. Emotional self-care is made up of all the nurturing actions people do to comfort a baby when he or she is hurt, hungry, tired, lonely, cold, hot, sick, upset, or frightened. 

This is usually where I begin with people who are hurting badly like you are. We make up an inner comforting parent. Then you one at a time begin to put into action those behaviors that make you feel better. 

Often you can find this information from a therapist who has trained as a child therapist or someone skilled in cognitive behavioral treatment. To find out, you can actually call them on the telephone and ask them how they work. Some people call every licensed therapist in their local telephone book to find a therapist who can work with them. 










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