Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Overcome Flashbacks and Panic Attacks

Here is a list of grounding techniques which you can use immediately, to help when you have lost control of your surroundings in a panic attack. Grounding techniques work well not only with panic attacks, but also with flashbacks from PTSD.


First, look around you. Find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

It is also good in a flashback to ask yourself how old you are now, to differentiate from how old you were when the trauma actually happened.

One of the worst things about having a panic attack is how frightened you are about having the next one.

The following video by Babette Rothschild (herself a victim of childhood trauma) illustrates how to overcome panic attacks by focusing awareness on the perception of here and now rather than on the internalized memories of previous trauma.



After this basic level of security and safety has been attained, client and therapist can then collaborate in the construction of a therapeutic relationship which will increase feelings of confidence and self-esteem, overcome anxiety, depression, and despair, and bring forth an optimistic outlook on life which enables them change the narrative of their life story. (Levine, 1997; Naparstek, 2004; Rothschild, 2000; Scaer, 2007).  These new methods of treatment by the world's leading trauma researchers and clinicians constitute  ". . .a paradigm for understanding trauma's far-reaching psychological and physical consequences, without which, psychotherapeutic interventions remain extremely limited, and at times harmful to our clients." (emphasis mine). 

Procedures such as these are rapidly dealing a death blow to outmoded, Twentieth-Century notions of "healing" based upon regression to cause, which is about as sophisticated and as useful as trying to housebreak a puppy by "rubbing his nose in it." The puppy will usually stop sooner or later, but is that because of our treatment or in spite of it? And if the "training" is vigorously pursued, could the frustration and anxiety thus engendered actually make new learning more difficult? 
The following video from PESI Seminars features some of the world's leading experts discussing how recent breakthroughts in the treatment of trauma, dissociation, and multiple personality are making it possible for clients who have gone years without improvement to finally begin to change.  


References
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM-V, 5th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Forward, S. (1997). Emotional blackmail: When the people in your life use fear, obligation, and guilt to manipulate you. New York: Harper-Collins.  
Forward, S. & Buck, C. (2002). Toxic parents: Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life. New York: Bantam.
Levine, P.A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Naparstek, B. (2004). Invisible heroes: Survivors of trauma and how they heal. New York: Bantam.
Rothschild, B. (2000), The body remembers: The psychophysiology of trauma and treatment. New York: Norton.  (Click on the link for a YouTube book review.)
Scaer, R. C. (2007) The body bears the burden: Trauma, dissociation, and disease. New York: Routledge.