Trauma Therapy

trauma therapyIf you have experienced trauma, there is good news for you, as much research and progress has been made in the last few years providing therapists treating trauma with great tools. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is now recognized as a common phenomenon. There are many of us who disagree with the term disorder, as the response is how we are wired to respond to a life threatening situation.

PTSD can be brought about by acute trauma such as a life threatening incident or can be brought on by repetitive trauma when there is chronic physical and emotional abuse. Examples include being a child of an alcoholic or a daughter of a borderline parent. Both types can be treated by therapy, but the range of confounding issues and the therapies required can be quite different.

Acute PTSD

Dr. LaVine specializes in acute traumas such as burns, limb loss, back injury, medical mistakes, and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Dr. LaVine’s neurological clinical background and personal experience affords him the knowledge and skills to deal with the immediate pain management needs and any cognitive rehabilitation that may be required.

In these cases, there usually is an immediate need to restore a sense of safety and some sense of normalcy – normal sleep, normal relations, normal work; often this means there needs to be a new norm. Often a therapist will introduce Trauma Focused Therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (in either its slow form – Systematic Desensitization or its fast form – Flooding). At the core of these therapies is the tenant of “exposure” to the trauma to lessen the fear response, and the elimination of the avoidance response. In so doing, the expectation is to reduce the worst of the hyper-vigilance, anxiety, and physiological fear consequences. However, often the task of reducing the fear and anxiety is complicated by other issues such as addiction, depression, physical loss and or longstanding relationship issues. If so, Dr. LaVine’s depth of personal and professional experience and maturity provides him the ability to connect and relate at a level that is rare, but required, to deal with these issues while at the same time his personal commitment, perseverance and compassion provides energy and the dedication to help with the change.

In many cases, acute trauma, whether a moment or series of moments, creates a dividing point in a person’s life, there is a before, and an after dividing line in the person’s story. There is a residual fear and uneasiness that persists.   Quite often a sense of loss, it may be a loss of security or trust, or in many situations a loss of a previous life or identity.

From Dr. LaVine’s personal experience, he knows that the loss of the old life, and the anticipation of the challenges of the new life may be as overwhelming and more debilitating than loss of limbs, permanent scars, loss of “intelligence”, memory or clarity. The loss can be overwhelming. The anger and disappointment at the medical community in their inability to deal or even in many cases, causing the loss, is all but consuming.

For those that need to find a new life, or a new identity, the challenge is great. Dr. LaVine specializes in this existential crisis, or existential opportunity, depending on point of view using Existential Therapy. His own narrative of recovery from serious burns and head injury in a boat explosion puts him in a unique stance to relate and be helpful. If a new life is required, letting go of the old is a challenge and finding a path to make the new life better that is better than the old may require support and guidance. As Vicktor Frankel expressed – our response, is ultimately our freedom.

Chronic Trauma

Dr. LaVine has also worked with a subtler form of trauma that comes from the emotional abuse that occurred in childhood. These patients often suffer from the constant stress to be perfect or not disappoint others, that eventually manifests as anxiety and sensitivity. This pleasing way of thinking and acting often works better for others than the person themselves. Hypnotherapy, especially cognitive therapy, can be helpful. So are the Mind Body Mastery for Stress Group skills taught in the MBMS group.

You can learn more about PTSD at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) or Mayo Clinic