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Helping Children Cope with Violence. Zero To Three. Zinsmeister, K. Growing Up Scared. ERIC Digest. Sensitivity and Temperament. Individuals vary enormously in how they function in the world. Some people have more sensitive nervous systems, some process information more intellectually than others, etc. You may see two children from the same family, faced with the same disaster, and they may have totally different responses to what has occurred.

Don't underestimate the children!!! They know what is going on. Every child I saw, even the ones as young as three years old, knew that something bad, and something very real had happened. The children I saw ranged from those who did not see anything on TV to those who were weaned on violent media images--every one of them knew what had happened. They could see the reactions in the adults around them, and, as one charming nine year old told me, "Of course I knew it was real.

It was on all the channels. Even babies are sensing that something is wrong. In consultations regarding infants, every parent reported disturbances in the baby's behavior, sleep pattern, eating, etc. Further discussion revealed that the parents themselves were feeling very vulnerable; powerless to protect their new babies from evil. They were asking themselves what kind of world would their children inherit.

Would they survive to adulthood? The babies were sensing a 'disturbance in the field'. As the parents were feeling reverberations in their psyches, the infants felt that and reacted. After the Disaster. Many children and adults are getting worse, now, one month after the terrorist attack. We feel so alone in our feelings. It is if everyone is trying to make it go away by not talking about it; yet, we are flooded with grief and anxiety. Many teachers are saying that the best thing is "for children to get back to the regular schedule". They send home notices that while they will answer questions, they will not raise the topic in the classroom.

This is sad, as we have all been wounded by the attack, so we can be healed together if we are able to share our experiences. Many adults are not able to put into words what they feel. The country is still in shock and grief; fear and anxiety are pervasive, and we don't really have the tools as a culture to enable the healing cycle to deepen. It is too soon for words for many. We need symbols, yet they are hard to find. The prominence of the flag appearing is for some a healing symbol; yet, for others it is an ambivalent image, bringing up memories of protesting the war in Vietnam, or fears of a new war.

Religious symbols of healing may be similarly divisive in today's culture. Probably the best thing to do in our practices is wait, and when a healing symbol appears from the psyche, to notice it. Listen and watch carefully for metaphor and symbolic content. Often this is the unconscious providing healing symbols in an attempt at mastery. When 11 year old Joey wants to talk about Barry Bonds hitting home run number 73, he is probably not only talking about baseball, but about a place where there are rules and heroes, and "the guy without drugs can beat the guy who took drugs".

When a young teenager wants to watch horror movies, perhaps she is finding an external expression of the horror within, or the horror in the world. If an adult is talking about the garden, perhaps it is a metaphor for a safe place, the 'temenos' or sacred grove where healing can occur. If someone comes in wanting to talk about replacing his little car for an SUV, perhaps he wants to feel bigger and safer on the road, or have a way to get his family out of the city, into the hills where he needs a four wheel drive. Notice the metaphors, and do not interpret them.

If you can simultaneously hold the metaphor and the deeper meaning, this will establish a resonance. The client will feel held and met, without being made overly self-conscious about the metaphor; perhaps not even realizing it is a metaphor. Sandplay Therapy founder Dora Kalff spoke of this as a 'synchronous moment' between therapist and client. It is far more effective to stay in the symbolic language, trusting that the material will come to consciousness when the person is ready. Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine the extent of the psychological trauma, and whether or not professional mental health services are indicated.

This checklist is one way to assess a child's mental health status. Add up the pluses and minuses to obtain a final score. If the child scores more than 35, it is suggested you seek a mental health consultation. Has the child had more than one major stress within a year BEFORE this disaster, such as a death in the family, a molestation, a major physical illness or divorce? Does the child have a network of supportive, caring persons who continue to relate to him daily? Has the child had to move out of his house because of the disaster?

Was there reliable housing within one week of the earthquake with resumption of the usual household members living together? Is the child showing severe disobedience or delinquency? Nightly states of terror?

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Waking from dreams confused or in a sweat? Difficulty concentrating? Extreme irritability? Loss of previous achievements in toilet or speech? Onset of stuttering or lisping? Persistent severe anxiety or phobias? New or exaggerated fears? Rituals or compulsions? Severe clinging to adults? Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep? Startling at any reminder of the disaster?

Loss of ambition for the future?

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Loss of pleasure in usual activities? Loss of curiosity? Persistent sadness or crying? Persistent headaches or stomach aches? Has anyone in the child's immediate family been killed or severely injured in the disaster including severe injury to the child? The project provided individual, family and group counseling, agency debriefing services and a school intervention program. Over the course of 16 months, the project provided services to more than 25, individuals.

Peter J. Spofford, M. Signs and Symptoms of Critical Incident Stress. Tragedies, deaths, serious injuries, hostage situations, threatening situations - these events are known as "Critical Incidents. Sometimes an event is so traumatic or overwhelming that emergency responders may experience significant stress reactions.

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The Critical Incident Stress Debriefing CISD process is specifically designed to prevent or mitigate the development of post-traumatic stress among emergency services professionals. CISM interventions are especially directed towards the mitigation of post-traumatic stress reactions. When in doubt, contact a physician. Disasters create an abrupt change in reality.

For a child, his or her view of the world as a safe and predictable place is temporarily lost. Children become afraid that the event will happen again and that they or their family will be injured or killed. When Bad Things Happen The recent terrorist attacks may have caused you to question a number of things you have always believed about your own safety, and the safety of your family and friends. There are two types of disaster: natural disasters like the damage that results from a hurricane, a tornado, floods, forest fires, volcanoes erupting and earthquakes, and disasters that result from an intentional action of a human.

When the disaster is human caused, our reactions are more severe and become much more complicated and difficult to overcome. These are available on-line as: Printable Version in English Printable Version in Spanish Printable Version in Farsi Printable Version in Laotian Printable Version in Cambodian Printable Version in French Printable Version in Korean Printable Version in Tagalog Printable Version in Vietnamese Printable Version in Russian Printable Version in Chinese Printable Version in Arabic People that have been sexually abused, raped, assaulted or physically abused are one category of people with stress disorders often seen in psychotherapy.

Those who have had severe illness or medical interventions likewise may manifest PTSD. I have seen PTSD following infertility treatments, surgeries for breast cancer, in children with cancer, etc. There are times when a whole community is at risk for ASD and PTSD, such as in the Bay Area following the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and in communities following catastrophic natural disasters, such as hurricanes, typhoons, mudslides, floods, volcanic eruptions.

War can cause PTSD, as can acts of aggression against an ethnic group or followers of a religion. When compared to natural disasters, the magnitude and severity of emotional difficulties are likely to be far greater in response to terrorist incidents. This is especially true of terrorist incidents that involve large numbers of fatalities, including the deaths of many children, are the result of deliberate acts of violence, and involve a protracted rescue and recovery effort. Perhaps we should look to Israel or Ireland to see how a population handles terrorism, as the examples in the US are fortunately few.

The opportunity we have is healing at a national level, as the hurting was done to us all. Initially, many people will manifest signs of Acute Stress Disorder. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present: 1.

Either while experiencing or after experiencing the distressing event, the individual has three or more of the following dissociative symptoms:. The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in at least one of the following ways: recurrent images, thoughts, dreams, illusions, flashback episodes, or a sense of reliving the experience; or distress on exposure to reminders of the traumatic event. Marked avoidance of stimuli that arouse recollections of the trauma e. Marked symptoms of anxiety or increased arousal e.

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning or impairs the individual's ability to pursue some necessary task, such as obtaining necessary assistance or mobilizing personal resources by telling family members about the traumatic experience. The disturbance lasts for a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 4 weeks and occurs within 4 weeks of the traumatic event.

The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance e. American Psychiatric Association The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 4th Ed. What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? A National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape.

PTSD is marked by clear biological changes as well as psychological symptoms. PTSD is complicated by the fact that it frequently occurs in conjunction with related disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.

Mike's PTSD symptoms, in remission for a while, flooded him. He couldn't sleep, and when he did sleep, he was haunted by violent nightmares, often waking up drenched in sweat. He was agitated and restless. The war starting brought back severe anxiety and depression, as well as flashbacks. While Mike had so far resisted using drugs and alcohol for self-medication, I feared that the risks of a relapse were extremely high.

I felt that therapy, even twice a week, was not sufficient. Mike agreed to go back to AA, and took two referrals; one to a psychiatrist for medication, and one to the Veteran's Administration for a group of veterans that focused on PTSD. I knew my limitations.. At first he resisted the psychiatric referral, saying that in the past his AA sponsors had frowned upon the use of medication.

He finally agreed to give it a try, particularly if we looked at it as possibly a short term intervention. For Mike, the terrorist attack in combination with the war starting were too much; his psychological homeostasis was threatened. The unresolved trauma of serving in Vietnam triggered the present time stress reaction. I was very glad that he took the referrals, particularly to the group experiences of AA and the PTSD group, as Mike had been too often alone and isolated in his suffering.

Common nightmare themes 1 falling 2 being chased or kidnaped animal chasing are more common in children 3 rejection, abandonment, betrayal, or humiliation 4 natural disasters: earthquakes, tidal waves, tornadoes, floods 5 technological disasters such as explosions, fire, nuclear war and chemical contamination, plane crashes. How posttraumatic nightmares are different? A wildfire becomes a rageful animal or a murderer becomes a kidnapper who assaults someone else while the dreamer watches.

What are the Traumatic Stress Effects of Terrorism? Information from past incidents of terrorism Fortunately, there have been very few terrorist attacks in the United States. One implication, however, is that there is little known about how people are affected by terrorism. A consistent finding is that, while most individuals exhibit resilience over time, people most directly exposed to terrorist attacks are at a higher risk to develop PTSD. Problems with anxiety, depression, and substance use are also commonly reported. Predictors of PTSD include being closer to the attacks, being injured, or knowing someone who was killed or injured.

Those who watch more media coverage are also at higher risk for PTSD and associated problems. Research from both domestic and international terroristic events sheds some light on the heightened risk for traumatic stress reactions in individuals exposed to these events: Oklahoma City Bombing. As indicated above, rates of distress and post-traumatic symptoms have been found to be high in individuals studied following terroristic events. Ultimately, reducing the risk of traumatic stress reactions is best accomplished by abolishing trauma in the first place by preventing war, terrorism, and other traumatic stressors.

The next best approach is to foster resilience and bolster support so that individuals have better coping capacity prior to and during traumatic stress. The third best option is early detection and treatment of traumatized individuals to prevent a prolonged stress response. Janelle is 22, but her developmental disabilities give her the cognitive functioning of an early adolescent.

In addition to her learning differences, Janelle was sexually abused as a young child. Prior to the September 11 attack, Janelle had been doing remarkably well in her vocational training program, surprising the staff and her family with how well she was coping. After the disaster, she seemed fine, asking appropriate questions about what had happened and expressing some concerns about her personal safety. As the weeks progressed, however, Janelle began to deteriorate. She became clingy and regressed, and her cognitive functioning began to diminish.

She was forgetful and distracted, making numerous errors in her tasks as well as her writing and spelling. She appeared overwhelmed at her training school, and would hide for hours in the bathroom.

Parasomnia is the monster in the closet you need to defeat

Her posture changed from that of a lovely young woman to someone who shuffled and slumped, peering out from behind uncombed hair. She seemed to be willing herself to disappear before our eyes. In therapy, she kept repeating that she was scared, but did not know why. She seemed about four years old, which was the age when she had been sexually abused. Janelle seemed to be having flashbacks, but it was hard to tell for sure, because she had even lost the word 'flashback' when her emotional and cognitive functioning became so diminished.

All she wanted to do in her sessions was play with dolls, while rocking back and forth. It was as if Janelle had time traveled back to her earliest trauma. These authors have observed that "trauma is organized in memory on sensori-motor and affective levels All memory is encoded at the cellular level. McClaskey, D. I have found that the use of the elements earth, air, fire and water facilitates the healing of trauma embedded in the chakras or energy centers.

How then do we treat trauma? It appears that words do not encompass the range of the terror, nor do they have the power to heal what is held in the cells and the senses. The Elemental Model for healing incorporates the energetic system of the Tibetan Buddhists with a technique that engages the cells and senses through the use of the elements. Rather than a 'new' model, this is actually an ancient system.

The elements often tie into energetic centers in the body called chakras. The western medical system calls them "nerve plexuses". Each energy center is a 'sense center' and is correlated with an element. We will use the Tibetan five point system, rather than the seven chakra system of the Hindus. For treatment of post-traumatic stress, focus is on the lower four chakras. Trauma often impacts very deeply on a victim's life. After the bodily bruises heal, it is necessary to assist the victim in healing the mind and spirit if we wish them to not only survive, but to thrive.

All of the physical reactions listed, and those not listed, may or may not appear when treating PTSD. This list is not comprehensive, but rather an attempt to correlate an energetic center with a recognizable physical reaction for the purposes of elucidating the model. Alcoholism and addiction may show up at any stage. Although psychological conflicts do manifest in the body, please remember the scope of your practice and always refer to a physician for the monitoring of physical care.

We are not stating that trauma causes illness, but rather that the chakras tend to correlate with specific organ systems. It is useful in diagnosis and treatment to look at the type of trauma in relation to chakra system, to determine energetically where the libido is blocked. The chakras correlate to the endocrine system and various nerve plexuses Tart, , and have emotional and symbolic aspects as well.

While there are five chakras seven in the Hindu system , trauma and its healing usually are limited to the first four; first, the root or survival chakra; second, the sacral plexus or attachment chakra; third, the navel or power chakra and the heart chakra. Eliade, The usefulness of the chakra system in a treatment model is that it combines the physical, the emotional, the spiritual and the symbolic, allowing the diagnosis and treatment to be multifaceted and accurate.

Trauma in the first three chakras must be addressed before the client reaches the fourth chakra, throat. The plexus here is the pharyngeal region and the region it rules is communication. This is often why the victim must reenact the crime before he or she is able to talk about what happened. According to Dr.

Background

Cecil Burney, a founding member of the International Society for Sandplay Therapy, in Tibet, every illness is viewed as a problem of the heart. Burney spoke of a Tibetan lama who expressed amazement about Western medicine and psychotherapy. The lama told Dr. Burney, after hearing about Western psychotherapy, "I do not understand this Western way of healing! This is just adding air to fire. The element of the heart is fire, and if you talk about a trauma, a feeling or an illness, you are adding air to fire; fanning the flames.

Burney, "And even worse is when people spiritualize their problems! I never trust people who appear too spiritual. They might be carrying a knife behind their backs. A version of this story appears in Shepherd, S. An initial spiritual solution is often a bypass; anger smoldering under a fragile facade. Yet, to descend means looking at the shadow, getting angry, and grieving the losses we have experienced in life.

Embarking on this journey takes courage. The healing of a trauma would involve a descent, to point the triangle of the heart down through the water to the earth. When Dora Kalff taught about the Tibetan chakras, she would draw a diagram with a square at the base, with a circle on top of it.

Then there was a triangle, a horizontal crescent, and at the very top was a flame. Frau Kalff told us that these represented the Tibetan chakras, and that each shape correlated to an element and a part of the body. The lower elements are associated with matter, the soul, and the feminine.

The upper elements of air and ether are connected with the spirit and the masculine. The heart in the center is the bridge between the two; uniting feminine and masculine; soul and spirit. In this meditation, the triangle of the heart points down. Burning issues quiet, as the fire slows. When the fire touches water, mist forms. The tears flow. When the fire connects to the element earth, the person may feel grounded, 'in touch'. At this moment, when the fire descends to the center of the earth, there is a natural arcing up of energy.

The life force ascends, allowing the triangle of the heart to simultaneously point upward and downward. In this void arises the thousand petaled lotus of enlightenment. We also know this shape as the Star of David, or the "yantra". The energetic model of therapy starts with a descent through the elements, and correlates each element with an energy center in the body chakra and with a developmental level.

Knowing these relationships helps make sense of the very confusing world of the unconscious. Although this information may initially seem complex, we have seen that the elements provide a bridge between the client's psychological, physical and spiritual self, which is readily witnessed in the sandtray. The descent from one level to the next is through transference tests.

If a client does not feel safe, he or she will not go to the next level. The therapist needs to know these levels in him or herself, or the process will not evolve. This is the most common reason we see in our consultation when a therapist says "Joey only plays soldiers - all the time, he does the same tray over and over again".

Another reason clients perseverate is that the therapist does not know what is happening and, therefore, fails to empathize. There is also the possibility that the family system is refusing to change, as evidenced by inconsistency in following through or not bringing the client to sessions regularly. Seth, age 10, played army every week for seven weeks in a row, lighting candles. This was using the element fire. The therapist uncovered an incident of inappropriate sexual contact with an older boy.

When this was discussed and interventions made with the family so this would not be repeated, Seth's sandtrays immediately changed. He dug down to the blue bottom of the tray and began to add water. The model we present can be useful in assessing where the client is in his or her own process. People start at various points. When an idea comes into being it goes through the four elemental planes: air, fire, water, earth. A note of caution here: not every client needs to go through all the elements. Some will go just one or two stages, then ascend. Trust your clients -- they will know when it is time to stop.

For the sake of the model we will start with the element ether or spirit. It is where we get a different picture of the world and is associated with the objectivity of air. When we feel someone is trying to force an idea or perspective on us, it will often produce a tension headache. It is pure spirit: our direct connection to God or higher power. It often is represented by a crown or halo.

It is the sensation of a tingling from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes that assures you that you have just had a moment of truth and insight. It is rarely blocked except in the cases where an individual has chosen to give up their personal authority to another dominating human being such as a cult leader. It is where we hear others and our inner voice, where we communicate. When we get "choked up" we often need to let our feelings out and give them voice.

Air enters after an idea has taken form and we are able to stand back and objectively witness it. Air is Logos, the divine, objective principles of universal order. It governs thinking, intellect, objectivity, communication and often change. The wind is the spirit of the unconscious. In the Medicine Wheel it is the direction of the East, the place of our ancestors, where new life begins, and often where therapy begins.

The color of the East is yellow, and its animal is the eagle, for clear vision and for the ability to soar and speak to the spirits. The signs of the Zodiac are Gemini communication , Libra relationship and balance and Aquarius universal brotherhood. This is clearly an appropriate place for therapy to start. In feelings it is both detachment and anxiety. In sound it is often the music that makes you feel "spaced out", like harps or some New Age music. It is associated with the 4th chakra of communication and perception.

In trays it turns up as salvation and escape - feathers, balloons, sailboats, birds in flight, angels, flutes, harps, saxophones, songs, books, sandstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, tilted figures. It appears white or shiny. It is the "breath of life", called "ba" in Egypt. It "gives voice". When there are people, animals or monsters talking, singing or yelling, there is air.

When it is unbalanced it becomes rigid, pedantic, sterile, over intellectualized. It often signals the process of change occurring. It will add fuel to the fire and move loose earth, cause whitecaps on the water. Air signals life; newborns cry. Developmentally, intimacy vs. In adolescence and young adulthood we can reach out and touch others with ourselves. Do we take the chance to converse and share healing?

Later are we able to call on our "angels" for help? Are we open to the messenger doves flying in? In disease as isolating as addiction it is often the communication and fellowship shared with AA and other 12 step programs that provide the structure and support for recovery and healing. FIRE Carrie was wounded in the third, or fire chakra.

She came to therapy at age 11, and had been molested by an older boy when she was 7 years old. Her reaction was to deny that it had happened, alternating with periods of severe stomach aches, ruminations about things that disturbed her i. The chakra impaired was the third, solar plexus and the heart. The emotional issues of the third chakra are power and love. This girl's growing sense of herself was constrained by the guilt subsequent to the molest. The element associated with this chakra is fire, and indeed she repeatedly lit candles in the sandplay.

After she lit the fires, then she could talk about what had happened. During an earlier period of play therapy with another therapist who did not use sandplay Carrie had not been able to reach the depths that she descended to in sandplay, nor had she lit fires. In the first therapy, she told only partially of the molest, and her symptoms were only partially alleviated. Because the abuse was not by someone she had trusted, and because her life was not threatened, the obstruction centered around the third chakra.

If her history had included previous abuse by a parent, the incident would have impacted the second chakra and possibly the first as well. Fire in the power chakra "represents the experience of the divine as well as our inner passions". Psychologically, after our baptism into the passions hidden in the deep waters of the unconscious the second chakra , the third chakra is the experience of emotions flaming up -- "after baptism comes temptation and hell" Coward, Survivors of abuse often have many physical illnesses or injuries during the process of uncovering abuse.

Stomach, abdominal and reproductive difficulties second and third chakra involvement are common with sexual abuse survivors. The third chakra is located at the solar plexus and the heart. It is associated with fire, power, reaching out, loving, compassion for self and others as well as the physical body. The third chakra opening makes one feel forceful and intimidating. It is an important chakra to know how to use.

The physical sensation can be that of being "hit in the gut". Many of us have had wounds to our hearts when we have taken the risk of loving another and feel we have been burned. Fire is inspiration. It is the original creative energy. It motivates, inspires, perseveres and destroys. In the Medicine Wheel, this is the direction of the South. It is associated with the color red, the mouse, and the spontaneity of the child. Fire transmutes. In tarot is the suit of wands which direct the creative force energy to work and become manifest. Fire will burn until all of its fuel is exhausted.

Fire was stolen from the Gods by Prometheus or Coyote in American Indian legend, and children often steal fire from adults. Observe how your child clients relate to fire in the sandtray, notice how confident they are in lighting candles. It is prudent to review fire safety rules with children when they light candles, and to have an obvious bottle of water available should quick extinguishing become necessary.

Fire teaches through surprise and opposites. It gives man power over nature. Fire is active and initiates projects. It is associated with the third and fourth energy centers, power and love and compassion. The colors of fire are reds, oranges, yellow; the hottest part is often blue. It is the opposite of water. The color red emotionally is both anger and love. In true love there needs to be room for the anger. Troubled marriage partners often refer to a lack of spark. They may not allow anger or disagreement fire into their union.

Or there may be so much rage that there is little space for the expression of love. In the tray we may see light, candles, fire, fire engines, stop signs, volcanoes, cinders, suns, birthday cakes, ovens, cooking, pipes and fire-colored objects of all sorts. The sounds would be hissing, crackling, rock and roll. When something is burnt, it is black. Caregivers that feel witchy are in this stage. The healing is for them to learn to give more to themselves, to relight their own creative fires.

Predominately black trays usually appear when the client feels he or she is in the "dark night of the soul". The energy is spent, there is no inspiration, passion, anger, or love. We have entered the void. Fortunately, there is usually still some small sign of hope in these trays. Try to identify it and see if it may provide the elemental cue as to where the healing will begin, but don't say it. Notice for yourself. Empathize with the pain and the darkness. Clients in the blackening stage may be seriously depressed or suicidal. It is important to honor that, and not attempt to bypass the real pain and despair of the time.

Until the darkness is fully recognized the light does not enter. This is the place where we also confront our own shadow and darkness. Many became so enraged by the act of terrorism on September 11 that they became terrorists in their own hearts, seeking retaliation, retribution, revenge.

If we had "bombed Afghanistan back to the stone age" we would have been massacring innocent people, just like what was done to us. Hatred and revenge are aspects of the human psyche that we must acknowledge in ourselves for planetary healing to occur. Honor your shadow, by acknowledging some really horrible part of yourself that it is easier to project onto someone else Speak out against racial and religious stereotyping!!! Take some time to root out violence in your own heart, and to understand your own aggression. If we fearlessly do this, then we make a tiny step toward changing the consciousness of the world.

There may be an initial reddening to call attention to the difficulty or wound, then the tray gets black. The return to reddening may appear in the form of healing elements. Red is a predominant color at births and menstruation. It is blood, life force. In Chinese culture, red is the color used at weddings and at many other holidays. This healing through reddening often marks a very transformative part of the healing. When the red appears, the client has been touched by Eros, or true feeling. It is life affirming and fertile. The Erikson developmental levels associated with fire would be industry vs.

In an adult, issues around anger, self expression, and procrastination and self fulfillment often revolve and heal around the element of fire. Are they going to express themselves and their souls' desires this lifetime?

The therapeutic process should awaken the client's fire, increasing their inspiration and motivation to engage in life. Josh is eight. His anxiety a few weeks after the bombing was still quite high. School was stressful, he was having a hard time concentrating. His processing of the bombing was complicated by a sudden, serious illness of a very close family friend. Josh was not feeling very safe in the world. He made a huge volcano for his sandtray, perhaps expressing how worried his heart was, how disempowered he felt, and his anger at what had happened to his world.

Finally, at the end of the session, it was time to put the fire out, using the cooling waters if the second chakra. Josh was able to reconnect with his feelings of attachment to heal the hurt and anger in his gut and heart. After the session ended, Josh was softer. The vibrating tension in his muscles relaxed. He seemed to melt into. She seemed surprised by the depth and gentleness of the hug that he gave her. If a child is sexually abused by a caretaker or parent, the feeling of empathy is damaged.

In the body, this can appear as reproductive and urinary tract problems. Behaviorally, a trauma victim will dissociate or not be engaged energetically with the chakras affected by the trauma. When he or she does reintegrate, the symptoms will reflect which chakra has contracted due to the trauma. When a betrayal takes place, a person is deep in the second chakra "down into the water where the monsters of the deep are faced, and from which rebirth may take place" Coward, This is often expressed in sandplay in flooded trays, almost as if the person is feeling as betrayed as humankind must have felt when God flooded the world.

The resolution for this often includes a rainbow, symbolizing The Covenant. When this appears, often trust is reestablished. Water is the element of the second chakra is located below the navel in the abdominal area. Here is the seat of empathy, sexuality and reproduction. Water flows as does empathy and sexuality. When one has been traumatized in this area, the second chakra may develop a physical response. In sexual abuse survivors whose second chakra may have been opened too early and against their will, we often see accompanying issues of gender identity, difficulties with reproductive organs, and problems with trust and attachment to intimate partners.

In the Medicine Wheel water is the element of the West. It signifies introspection and is associated with the color black, the whale, and the bear in the cave. The Zodiac water signs are Cancer nurturance , Scorpio release , ending with the mutable water sign of Pisces wherein all is possible, assimilated and given back to spirit.

Water is change. It is where life begins in the womb, in the ocean. It is the place of dreams, feelings, loss, love, compassion, empathy, betrayal, cleansing and healing. The tarot suit that represents water is cups, the vessel from which we express our love. The colors are blues and greens. If the water is murky, there is emotional confusion around the issue. It is soothing music or violent storms. We see it in trays as the blue bottom of the tray itself. It is the unconscious. It can be rivers, ponds, oceans, streams, ducks, fish, octopi, shells, boats, bridges, sunken treasure, skin divers, mermaids, pearls, ice, penguins, polar bears, seals, walruses.

When water is out of balance, it floods or there is drought. When water is unrelated, it freezes; there is no connectedness nor understanding and things appear isolated. The "monsters from the deep" appear and threaten to overwhelm. Water can erode valleys, carve mountains, create steam, or put out fire. It cradles intuition and creativity.


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It releases and cleanses in tears. Are we going to continue to create and give with our body and souls until the end of life or do we stop and dry up before our time is over? We physically "dry up" during the process of aging, yet there is little more powerful than the glow of wisdom in the eyes of an older, vibrant person.

A most prominent example is Mother Teresa who continued to live, share, give and inspire to the end. At the culmination of therapy a client knows their inner emotions water and has assimilated water their soul into action. The client will often appear disoriented and dissociated. They may be in shock. In matching energy, you find yourself spacey and frightened.


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Survival issues include any incident in which a person's life has been threatened: severe illness, an accident or crime in which a person faced the possibility of death. Veterans of war who exhibit post-traumatic stress disorder often have first chakra disturbances. People with this kind of experience need to descend all the way to the earth in order to heal. The client's response will often be to repress or deny the traumatic event in order to maintain the integrity of the ego. Exposure to great pain or horror will often create a dissociative reaction, in which the person seems to observe violence rather than experience it.

This is essentially a self-protective reaction, a "slipping out of the cocoon" Kubler-Ross, The Cherokee would "put their soul in a tree" for protection before they entered battle. Eliana Gil describes drawings by children who have been violently sexually or physically abused. The pictures show a child being beaten, and in one corner of the paper, high above, a little figure hovers.

When asked the child will say that this little figure is him or herself, while the child being abused is "some kid. The sequelae to this dissociation often includes anxiety, psychosomatic reactions, hyperactivity, regressive behavior, sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating, and constricted or inappropriate affect. In cases of extreme early abuse, multiple personality disorders may develop.

The trauma victim often combines the diagnoses of a Dissociative Disorder with that of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is a seesawing back and forth between dissociating from the event, then being flooded by it. Many adult clients victimized as children will exhibit the same symptomatology, and have within them an inner child who is fragmented and in pain.

How then do we treat the survivor? Encouraging the client to talk about the crime is an important component in therapy, yet too often he or she is unable to put in words what has been experienced. If the person is in a dissociative stage, she or he will, in all honesty, deny that the event has occurred, and if in touch with the incident, in all likelihood is too flooded to give words to what has occurred. This is where the use of the elements and of sandplay therapy excels as a therapeutic treatment.

The sandbox and toys give clients a chance to tell, without words, their own story. Because the world is outside the box, the box and the receptive presence of the therapist provide the "temenos" or sacred space, in which the deepest emotions, fantasies, and events can manifest themselves. Clients recreate the traumatic events in their native language, play. An underlying assumption to this treatment is that the psyche, given the opportunity, will lead the individual to wholeness and health. The centering archetype, the Self, emerges, and the ego organizes around it Weinrib, The therapist is non-intrusive, and mirrors the child's play.

The element earth is associated with the first chakra, which is located at the base of the spine. It is associated with the life, death and survival. Food, clothing, shelter are the issues of existence on earth. Danger involving the possibility of death will trigger this chakra to open. For example, if you were crossing the street and a car were rapidly approaching, your first chakra would open wide and move you quickly out of the way.

Earth in the symbolic process is associated with grounding, nurturance, structure, consistency and survival. Its Medicine Wheel direction is North, from where wisdom and the white buffalo emerge. In astrology, earth signs are Taurus physical existence and bounty , Virgo service and analysis and Capricorn greater social structure. In Tarot, stones, pentacles or discs represent earth issues such as work, money and production.

The quality of the element is feminine and receptive. All life is sustained by the earth. It is the place of planting as well as harvest. In order to make our ideas and dreams manifest, we must bring them to the physical plane: the earth. Earth is the place of renewal. In many forms of meditation students are taught to "ground" or "anchor" into the earth through their feet or "root" chakra and instructed to pull energy up from the earth to cleanse and then release energy back into the earth where it can be transmuted into a new form. Navajo sand paintings use the element earth for curing diseases in much the same manner.

The colors associated with earth are often rich greens and browns. Drumming connects us to the earth vibration, the human heartbeat to the heart of the planet. When you hear a beat or rhythm, when people start moving, making themselves real, tapping their toes, swaying; this is earth.

The feeling of earth may be warm or cold, dry or moist. We may experience earth in a tray as being a barren desert, a high mountain top, a lush garden or deep forest. Each of these scenes will elicit a different feeling in both clinician and client. The sign of earth is solid.

The developmental issue associated with earth is trust vs. Being in a life-threatening situation will cause one to become ungrounded and dissociated. Psychotic and autistic clients are also earth deficient by the nature of their process being so removed from the physical plane; they are dissociated. We can attest to a different level of security that may be seen in these individuals when they are in a more natural environment. Out of control teenagers were suddenly cooperative and calm. They were able to help with the cleansing of clothes and complete tasks much more successfully than at home.

Anxiety falls away and nature fills and inspires. Remember your last walk on the beach, or hike in the woods. We know apartment dwellers who keep a bag of potting soil in the closet, taking it out to feel and smell. It's a little gesture, but it keeps them in touch with something elemental. Earth provides structure and consistency, a sense that the world is a predictable place. Sandplay provides both the earth and container for therapy to exist.

It is important to be able to count on a given reaction following a particular action. How a therapist provides earth in their work is to have a consistent predictable schedule, i. Earth is where therapy and life happen. It is where change needs to manifest to have a result.

Lucia, age 12, made a 3-sided pyramid emerging out of the water. On the left was land with five points protruding. After she completed the tray, she shyly and proudly said that she had her first menstruation that week. She asked me questions about my period, then at the end of the session we both went to the garden, where I gave Lucia a red rose to celebrate her becoming a woman. Lucia unconsciously recreated the Kinaalda, the Navajo initiation ceremony for girls at the onset of puberty. The central figure in the ritual is Changing Woman who celebrated her first menstruation by "molding the earth.

Larry came for a therapy session ten days after the terrorist attack. He told me his story; being in a building one block away when the first plane hit the tower. The sounds of breaking glass, screams. He couldn't get out.. No one knew what was going on. The second plane hit; and someone found a TV so they witnessed the attack.

He watched in horror and amazement what was occurring at the World Trade Center, only one block away. Then a huge explosion, and everything went dark. No electricity. The windows were blown out of the building. To go or stay? We all have a genetically predetermined degree of vulnerability to anxiety, and depending upon the amount of adversity or trauma we experience in our lives, we probably all have the ability to develop an anxiety disorder. Nonetheless, with brains that evolution crafted to function in an environment strikingly different from the one in which we now live, it may be that a greater percentage of us are experiencing higher levels of anxiety than ever before.

So how does one know if anxiety has become a disorder? Only a trained mental health care provider can diagnose an anxiety disorder, and there are several different anxiety disorders, each with their own characteristics, but below are five signs to look for. Identifying an anxiety disorder as such is important because it is likely to get better with treatment and may not get better without it.

An insidious characteristic of anxiety disorders is that they often lead the affected individual to avoid doing things that trigger their anxiety -- including seeking help. Like the child who is so afraid there is a monster in his closet that he never opens the door, adults with anxiety disorders may suffer needlessly for years because they avoid feared activities and places, thus depriving themselves of the opportunity to learn they are actually safe.

If you think you or a loved one may have an anxiety disorder, it is important to speak to your doctor about it or to schedule an appointment with a licensed mental health care provider. You can also visit www. Real Life. Real News. Real Voices. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. News Politics Entertainment Communities.


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