December Clinical Connections with George Nalbach, Ph.D. — The Future of Psychotherapy: The Primacy of Empathy and the Seduction of Evidence Based Treatment

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For the December 6 Clinical Connections at the Irvine Graduate Campus, popular long-time Pepperdine faculty George Nalbach, Ph.D., presented on the history, present status, and future of psychotherapy. Dr. Nalbach, the Associate Executive Director of Santa Anita Family Service, discussed his concerns regarding the current standardization of therapy inevitable with third party reimbursement. He also critiqued the plethora of “evidence based treatments” research and literature and the evolving standardization of graduate education. In contrast to these issues, Dr. Nalbach reintroduced the prioritization of empathy as the indispensable tool of psychotherapy fact finding and the central aspect of psychotherapy effectiveness.

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Upcoming CAMFT Chapter Events

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Orange County

“Adoption and Genetic Separation Trauma”
with Karl Stenske, M.A.
Friday, December 13, 2013
11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa
http://occamft.org/

Los Angeles

Holiday Extravanganza Potluck Party
Sunday, December 8, 2013
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Clearview Treatment Programs
911 Coeur D’Alene Ave., Venice
http://lacamft.org

Long Beach/South Bay

Grief is Like a River – Grief and Loss: Lessons Learned
w. Claire Towle, LCSW
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Thelma McMillen Center
3333 Skypark Drive, Suite 200, Torrance
http://lbsb-camft.org

San Fernando Valley

Annual Installation & Membership Meeting – Reviving Rhythm: Music Medicine for Mind, Body, and Soul
w. Christine Stevens, MSW
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Woodland Hills Country Club
21150 Dumetz Rd., Woodland Hills
http://www.sfvcamft.org/

Tips for Working with Trauma from Sandy Hume

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The November 1, 2013, edition of Clinical Connections at the Irvine Graduate Campus featured Sandy Hume, LMFT’s presentation on working with adults with complex trauma.

In her presentation to an audience of students and practitioners, Sandy explored the attachment research that is the underpinning of the contemporary understanding of complex trauma. Secure infants/children learn to trust how they feel and the world, to understand feelings, make decisions and take action. They develop a complex vocabulary to describe their emotions: “I can regulate myself, make good decisions, take action, communicate what I need and get help.” When this security is undermined by a chronic experience of physical, emotional, or educational neglect or abuse, however, complex trauma can result.

Developmental/chronic trauma interferes with neurobiological development, specifically the capacity to integrate sensory, emotional, and cognitive information into a coherent whole. Adults with developmental trauma often:

  • Desire safety — they do not feel safe, so they engage in behaviors that create a perception of safety. For example, perfectionists order every detail of their lives down to the most minute aspect in order to feel safe.
  • Feel overwhelmed and experience affect regulation issues.
  • Have issues with trust and discernment,
  • Have learned to be overly pleasing and/or rejecting when it comes to people. For clinicians, notice someone’s interpersonal intensity reaches inappropriate levels. Were they left alone early on to deal with their experiences?
  • Are hypervigalent.
  • Self-blame in order to continue loving someone who should have been protective. When you organize your world around someone who is abusive to you, you feel like you have to make it your fault in order to survive.

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Developmental trauma coping mechanisms that you may find in a client with complex trauma include:

  • Fight/flight/freeze responses
  • What is a freeze response? In wild, it’s playing dead in the face of a predator. In people it often takes the form of dissociation.
  • ADHD from trauma? “You’re not living up to your potential” is a common misunderstanding of the situation.
  • Repression of terror are helplessness.
  • Amazing resilience, resourcefulness, and talent.

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Regardless of theoretical orientation or technique (CBT, psychodynamic, and EMDR are all common and empirically supported), the goals of working with complex trauma clients are similar. They include helping clients to:

  • Learn how to respond effectively in the here and now.
  • Regain control of their emotional responses
  • Integrate traumatic memories into the larger perspective as historical rather than current or future.
  • Feel in charge of their lives.
  • Reduce feelings of shame.
  • Set better boundaries.
  • Choose mutual relationships in their lives, rather than relationships that are a one way street.
  • Express their feelings and needs and ask for help.
  • Deal with the disappointment that comes from understanding that no one is coming to be the perfect parent or other person that they never had (thinking this is how people get into bad relationships).
  • Learn how to modulate feelings and responses.
  • Build their ability to self soothe and experience containment – for example, through journaling, exercising, tolerating unpleasant emotion until it passes, reaching out for support, etc.
  • Understand emotions as cues rather than defaulting to fight/flight/freeze instincts.
  • Utilize breathing techniques to bring the calming parasympathetic nervous system online.
  • Verbalize feelings and associated meanings to create context.

November 1 Irvine Clinical Connections — Working with Trauma

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An Introduction to Working with Adults who have Complex Trauma

with Sandy Hume, LMFT

Friday, November 1, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Irvine Graduate Campus

Many adults who present with anxiety, depression, substance abuse issues, and relationship struggles are survivors of complex trauma. Complex trauma is a series of events, often in childhood, that leave an individual overwhelmed, struggling to cope, and shifting their beliefs and feelings about themselves, others, and the world. Research shows us that secure attachments can guard individuals from trauma and help them develop healthy coping strategies. Complex trauma survivors often did not experience this assistance and developed coping strategies that in the present day have become a hindrance. As therapists, we can help these individuals heal. This talk is an introduction to working with complex trauma survivors as well as a discussion of resources to develop your knowledge further.

Sandy Hume, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Corona del Mar.  Sandy completed her clinical psychology graduate work at  Pepperdine University. Her counseling career began at  Turning Point Center for Families and Newport Harbor High counseling individuals, couples, and teens. In addition to her private practice, Sandy is an Adjunct Professor at  Pepperdine University.  Sandy will be teaching the new Trauma in Diverse Populations course at Pepperdine’s Irvine campus next semester.
Sandy Hume, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Corona del Mar.  Sandy completed her clinical psychology graduate work at Pepperdine University. Her counseling career began at
Turning Point Center for Families and Newport Harbor High counseling individuals, couples, and teens. In addition to her private practice, Sandy is an Adjunct Professor at
Pepperdine University.  Sandy will be teaching the new Trauma in Diverse Populations course at Pepperdine’s Irvine campus next semester.