Dr. Anna Baranowsky is a Canadian Clinical Psychologist, CEO of the Traumatology Institute, Founder and President of the Board at Trauma Practice. She is the author of two books on trauma, numerous courses to help train professionals in trauma mental health and the developer of the Trauma Recovery Program for Self-Guided trauma care. She works with trauma survivors and those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on post-traumatic growth and recovery.
Through her work she believes that when we share, dialogue and feel supported, it provides a powerful foundation for forward movement in our understanding and the care needed. In her own words "I have found that the most profound changes occur when a person truly feels heard and understood - I like to think of it as deeply BEARING WITNESS to life evolving. We can feel incredibly stuck when we live with our fears, stressors and troubles in isolation."
Dr.Baranowsky is the host of the Bear Psychology Show, focusing on bearing witness to Evolving Mood, Mind, Health. Her talks revolve around recovery, relationships, work and life adventures.
She is dedicated to assisting organizations and health professionals who help trauma survivors to ensure a trauma informed lens of care can grow in community health networks. With that vision in 1998, the Traumatology Institute Canada (TIC) was established. TIC has trained thousands of individuals nationally and internationally.
Dr. Baranowsky serves on the board of directors of the Academy of Traumatology and is a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and is recognized by The National Center for Crisis Management. She has published in the area of Post-Traumatic Stress, Compassion Fatigue, and therapeutic relationships (the Silencing Response).
Copyright: Dr. Anna Baranowsky, 2020
Beating Chronic Pain is a Complex Issue
Chronic pain is a multi-factorial event that can leave the sufferer facing terrible pain alone, without solutions, and sometimes not even believed by others.
Did you know that 1 in 5 suffer with chronic pain? Wait times to see a pain specialist can take up to a year or longer and risk of suicide doubles for those suffering with chronic pain. With costs spiralling to over $60 billion + annually, it is startling that the seriousness of this situation is not given more focus.
We discuss the difficulty in dealing with chronic pain as well as some strategies that are proving useful for some people.
Meditcations and Injections Physical Therapies and Laser therapies Exercise Mind-Body Approaches – like Dr. Sarno’s (TMS) Meditation or other self-reflection exercises Psychotherapy One of the big problems with chronic pain is that it is invisible and your struggle might not be taken seriously by medical professionals. You may be left without solutions or a treatment plan to address your needs.
Chronic pain is complex and one solution does not fit all. In most cases, there is a need for approaches that include medicine, physical therapies, mind-body (biopsychosocial) counselling and rehabilitation. Not everyone has the resources for all these therapies and yet without them the outcome may leave the pain sufferer with insufficient relief and ongoing pain.
Links & Resources: The Problem with Chronic Pain: https://youtu.be/xfl1Q5hG5Pc?t=40 Lynn Cooper past president of the Canadian Pain Coalition: https://theprovince.com/opinion/lynn-cooper-relief-needed-chronic-pain-is-a-complex-disease-and-should-be-treated-as-such Canadian Pain Task Force Report: June 2019: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/corporate/about-health-canada/public-engagement/external-advisory-bodies/canadian-pain-task-force/report-2019.html The Mind-Body Prescription – physical reactions are connected to emotions: https://youtu.be/pHM45IXkXeM Canadian Pain Society: https://www.canadianpainsociety.ca/ Suffering from Confounding Symptoms: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/26/books/review/the-deep-places-ross-douthat.html The Deep Places: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/57341765-the-deep-places Treating Chronic Pain takes a Team: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/09/well/live/chronic-pain-treatment.html Psychologist help with Chronic Pain: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/09/well/mind/psychologists-chronic-pain-therapy.html
Ranch Hands Rescue: Animal Sanctuary for Healing Trauma
Ranch Hands Rescue has a reputation for being a place of refuge for victims who have survived horrific circumstances. This makes Ranch Hands Rescue a very special place. Landon Dickeson, Clinical Director & Bill Williams, CEO of Ranch Hands, will be joining us today to share with us the meaningful work they perform with both abused and neglected animals, and the traumatized people that they bring together.
Ranch Hands focuses on the 1-10% of trauma survivors that do not respond well to traditional counselling services. This includes those struggling with treatment resistant PTSD, including sexually abused children and adults, sex trafficking victims and veterans. The animal sanctuary houses horses, llamas, goats, sheep and other farm animals where the therapy between human and animals begin to reclaim life, hope and healing.
Let’s spend some time with Bob Williams to better understand how the Ranch integrates this approach to make a difference in the lives of both the people and the animals that they provide care for.
Bob's House of Hope is the newest program, and the first safe house in America for young men who have been sex trafficked. This project is a big win for those in need.
We learn about the Ranch Hands Rescue approaches to helping at-risk people who bond closely with the animals they encounter, finding solace and healing.
Links & Resources: Information about Ranch Hands is available at: https://www.ranchhandsrescue.com Listen to Bob Williams on Youtube.com at Ranch Hands Rescue - YouTube Get involved at Donate Now - Ranch Hands Rescue (gifttool.com) Bob's House of Hope for male victim's of Sex Trafficking
Know Your Shadow – The Route to Inner Peace
Have you ever wondered why you said, “yes” when you meant “no” or became enraged by something you recognized later was no big deal? Does your anger flare up quickly in your relationships or do you ever feel like the world is against when something minor occurs? This likely means your inner “demons”, also referred to as unresolved inner beliefs or YOUR SHADOW, is ruling your life.
We are joined by Shadow Work expert Dr. Robert Masters to discuss what the shadow is, how to work with your unconscious motivators, and how to challenge a spiritual by-pass (when you don’t want to face the difficult stuff in life). In addition to this, we also explore why this work is so important for your growth and how it leads to inner peace.
There is a huge cost to responding like a hurt 7 year old to a work colleague or becoming explosively jealous when you see your spouse/partner enjoying a conversation with someone else. Great inner growth and peace evolves when you can reflect on why you become triggered/hurt, and become aware of the inner drivers that lead you to feel so bad or become so reactive.
Dr. Robert Masters is an expert in Shadow Work. He has written and taught extensively on the unconscious drivers that lead to behaviors, attitudes and events that do not serve us.
In his 2018 book “Bringing your Shadow out of the Dark: Breaking free from the hidden forces that drive you”, Master’s explains that “Our Shadow … is our internal storehouse for the parts of us that we’ve disowned or rejected, or are otherwise keeping in the dark”. Dr. Masters is a therapist and “Psychospiritual guide” with a deep understanding of the “neglected shadow domains of ourselves”.
Let’s enjoy this conversation with Dr. Robert Augustus Masters and reflect on the deepest places of self-reflection and inner growth, the Shadow.
Links & Resources: Dr. Robert A. Masters book Bringing your Shadow Out of the Dark is available: https://bit.ly/3sx7VYt Listen to him speak about Shadow Work: https://www.robertmasters.com/interviews/ For information about Dr. Master’s courses, books and work: https://www.robertmasters.com/
Forward Facing Trauma Recovery – Profound Approach
What does it mean to "Heal the Moral Wound"? Have you experienced life-changing events that you have not been able to get over? Our guest today is Dr. J. Eric Gentry, renowned psychologist, author and speaker. His recent book Forward-Facing Trauma Therapy provides steps for reclaiming a life "filled with dignity, meaning and purpose".
Eric is more than my guest today. He is a friend and co-author of our book The Trauma Practice: Tools for Stabilization & Recovery. I have known Eric since we worked together in 1997 with Dr. Charles Figley, one of the committee members who helped to set the foundational DSM criterion for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
We grappled in those early days with approaches that fit the trauma clients we were working with at the Stress Research Lab that Charles ran. This was the beginning of Trauma Practice. Eric has focused his career on working with trauma survivors and training 1000's of professionals on how to help trauma survivors.
The crucial part of his Forward Facing work is that it provides an approach that goes beyond identifying and managing triggers and integrating past trauma to "Aligning behavior with values". This creates an intentional anchor that allows action to follow values and meaning rather than simply reacting to life events. This means you can choose to follow your own life purpose and beliefs instead of the triggers from the past.
Dr. Rhoton describes the FFTT approach as "a compelling case that stress reduction and symptom alleviation are only the first steps in the healing process and that our ultimate goal must be to ... achieve a congruent life based on integrity and choice. "
We will learn about Dr. Gentry's approaches to helping you Identify Triggers, Establish a Healthy Lifestyle; Practice Self-Regulation; Develop a Mission and Code of Honor and hold true to your core of Intentional Living.
While Dr. Charles Figley states that FFTT has the potential to "substantially increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy for the traumatized with a one-two punch:
(1) Direct exposure to the root of the traumatic memories paired with
(2) resilience-building self-care practices that promote principle-based living ... while rapidly optimizing ... quality of life."
So let's spend some time with Dr. J. Eric Gentry to better understand how he integrates "Intentional Living" to create meaningful, principle-based lives into the core of his pivotal work.
If you read through Dr. Gentry's work and watch his videos, you will see an earnest dedication to the work of healing and recovery.
So let's enjoy our dialogue with Dr. Gentry and understand the Forward Facing Trauma Therapy approach.
Links & Resources: Dr. Gentry’s book Forward Facing Trauma Therapy is available at: https://amzn.to/2U9gAUg Listen to him speak about Forward Facing Trauma Therapy: https://youtu.be/F8GiWzbfFhc In the next video Dr. Gentry addresses Self-Regulation: https://youtu.be/k0BYt2rPB9c Contact Dr. Gentry at Forward Facing: https://www.forward-facing.com/
Taming Sleep … Dreams & Nightmares
Ahh, deep restorative sleep! What relief!
We all know how much better we feel after a good night's sleep. But what happens when we are woken up throughout the night by disturbing nightmares and unsettling dreams? Are we prepared with strategies for getting back to sleep or for addressing upsetting dream content when it surfaces? What about repetitive nightmares that keep coming back? How are we to deal with them? Well, today's show looks at sleep interventions, as well as dream and nightmare strategies.
I love this topic as it gives you the skills for looking closely at what surfaces through the dream content and what makes it so interesting and meaningful in your own healing journey.
Whether it is tigers chasing you or workplace incidents, repeating the content is often symbolic or representative of what needs addressing, rather than reflective of the actual problems in your life. For example, if in your life you are not getting along with a specific friend ... your dream content might show you in a boat floating away from shore into murky water and away from a house that represents your connections and safety.
You can see an array of animals growling on the shoreline as well as one cartoon character happily waving at you from one of the windows of the house. You don't need to live close to water or even in a house in order for the dream to have meaning for you or to relate to the argument you are having with your friend. Nothing needs to be an exact replica if you look at the content through the lens of "everything is an aspect of you".
In the example above, you are all elements. You are the murky water, the house you are leaving behind, you are the boat and the feelings you have being on the boat. You are all characters that you see. Given time and introspection, you can begin to notice how each element relates to you and your life themes and events.
Treatment for nightmares includes medications such as Prazosin, CBT therapy such as Image Rehearsal Therapy (or changing the ending) and dream journaling. Deep breathing, relaxation practices and embedding the positive rather than fighting to get to sleep.
Other approaches include:
Dream Journaling using a light pen
Decoding Bad Dreams using Imagery Rehearsal Therapy
Making Peace with your Sleep – do not fight to get back to sleep ... instead rest and breathe deeply
Improve sleep with deep relaxation and embedding positive messages
Using Guided Body Scan and Progressive Body Relaxation
We also recognize that having a trauma history makes a person much more susceptible to bad dreams/nightmares. This can be thematic such as dreams that reflect a certain type of experience (i.e., loss of an important person, violence against you or those you love, etc). These thematic nightmares do not necessarily present an exact replica of what occurred in your life but can have features representative of a type of loss or trauma that still needs attention or healing in your life.
Research indicates that trauma has been increasingly identified as a potential precursor to clinical insomnia (Sinha, 2016). Sleep quality disruption is one of many ways that trauma can have a significant and prolonged impact on health and well-being, and this is largely because of the ways in which trauma can sensitize the central nervous system to become more hyper-aroused. However, there are ways to mitigate this, improve sleep quality, and regulate the body's sleeping patterns again after trauma.
An excellent article by Havens et al. (2019) outlines this research, and has informed some of the exercise guidelines below.
Links & Resources:
Sleep Hygiene: https://youtu.be/YvqeWcPwd2o?t=59
Tame & Decode Bad Dreams: https://youtu.be/Oi72TXnkEy4?t=17
Make Peace with Your Sleep: https://youtu.be/5HjzyLMsygM?t=38
Improve sleep by relaxing deeply and embedding positive messages: https://youtu.be/ZQmfCEtzvEE
Sleep relaxation (the
Be You, Only Better–Real Life Self-Care
Kristi Hugstad's book gives practical strategies for facing real life hardships. Ms. Hugstad lost her husband to suicide 8 years ago and has been grappling with the loss ever since. She described her life prior to the suicide in glowing terms. She faced social rejection, extreme grief, guilt and the devastating loss of her loving spouse.
She described a loveable, popular husband who was a successful gym owner. They sold the business with the plan of retiring early. This was the beginning of his unexpected spiral into depression and eventual suicide.
Her book outlines how she faced this loss and details the kinds of real life strategies a person can employ to face struggles.
The book outlines simple, straightforward approaches – like journaling, mindfulness, healthy sleep, exercise and sound nutrition to face life struggles. The conversation gets into the real impact of life losses and the importance of recognizing mental health struggles as we grow and change.
Although the book is focused on youth, it applies broadly to people needing some practical tools to face the demands of life.
Even before COVID, mental health challenges were significant. COVID-19 isolation, lockdowns, losses and restrictions have affected everyone in unexpected ways, leaving more people vulnerable and needing support.
Links & Resources:
The Grief Girl: https://www.thegriefgirl.com/#/
Life after Loss Blog: https://www.thegriefgirl.com/life-after-loss---a-blog#/