The Need for Better Mental Health and Crisis Intervention in Corrections

By James M Katz, BA

 

Photo showing a gentleman holding a plate with a circle design with the words Crisis in Blue in the middle of the circle

Crisis intervention in the correctional system is an important and necessary component of providing effective support to individuals going through difficult times. With the current population of inmates coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, it is essential for correctional facilities to have a plan in place that can provide immediate help to those struggling with mental health issues. This post will provide an overview of how crisis intervention works, its importance in maintaining a secure and healthy environment for inmates, as well as the different types of interventions available.

In the modern criminal justice system, corrections officers are responsible for providing a safe and humane environment for inmates. This task can be particularly challenging when faced with individuals in crisis. Crisis intervention team involves using specific strategies to de-escalate a situation, rather than relying solely on physical force. It is important that corrections officers understand the principles of crisis intervention and have the skills to respond appropriately and effectively in any given situation. The field of corrections is highly complex and carries with it a wide range of challenges. With the introduction of crisis intervention practices, correctional facilities have been able to better equip their staff in responding to difficult situations. Crisis intervention training has emerged as an essential tool for managing inmates and disrupting violent behaviors before they escalate out of control. This article below examines how better mental health resources is not only reducing the costs of corrections but improving the lives of potential suspects even before incarceration.

“There’s no doubt that among the ways Cuyahoga County could reduce costs and crises at a crowded, inefficient County Jail sorely in need of expensive renovation or replacement is by reducing the jail population. That can be accomplished through bail reform and more efficient, fairer management of cases. But it also could be achieved by making sure that suspects in need of treatment for mental health or addiction are diverted for appropriate treatment first.

That’s what the Cuyahoga County Diversion Center that opened to great fanfare more than 1 1/2 years ago was for. The center on East 55th Street is operated by Oriana House in conjunction with the Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County.

More needs to be done to divert those in distress to treatment and not just straight to jail: editorial By Editorial Board, Cleveland.com Nov 27, 2022
Access Here 

Commentary:

What is Crisis intervention?

Crisis Intervention is a form of psychological support or counseling that helps individuals who are in the midst of a crisis. This type of therapy focuses on providing immediate and practical assistance to help individuals restore balance and cope with their current situation. Frequently a crisis intervention team will be deployed in situations such as national emergencies to assist in providing interventions.

The main goal of crisis intervention training is to reduce the level of distress experienced by an individual in order to prevent further psychological harm. A qualified mental health professional works with the individual to identify feelings and behaviors, assess needs, provide resources, develop strategies for coping and problem solving, and assist them in making positive changes. The therapist also provides emotional support and encourages healthy communication between family members or friends if needed.

Crisis intervention can be used for those experiencing any type of traumatic event such as natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse, bereavement or loss, illness or injury.

Benefits of Crisis Intervention Counseling

Crisis counseling is a type of therapy that helps individuals and families manage their responses to difficult life events. It typically takes the form of brief interventions aimed at helping those in crisis regain control, reduce stress, and develop coping strategies for more effective problem-solving. Crisis counselors are trained to identify the signs of an impending crisis, assess its severity, and provide immediate assistance.

The benefits of crisis intervention include improved communication skills, increased self-awareness, enhanced understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses, improved decision making skills in high-stress situations, better problem-solving abilities, increased emotional regulation skills such as anger management or impulse control strategies. In addition to these short term benefits, crisis counseling can also lead to long term positive changes such as decreased anxiety levels and stronger overall mental health.

Challenges of Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention is an important part of mental health care, and it has its own unique set of challenges. It involves responding to a person who is in crisis – they may be feeling overwhelmed, confused, and out of control. Crisis intervention requires professional expertise to help the individual address their immediate needs and develop a plan for long-term recovery.

The goal of crisis intervention is to quickly assess the situation, identify any underlying causes or triggers, develop coping strategies and problem-solving skills, and ultimately provide support for an individual’s recovery. It can be emotionally challenging for both the counselor and the person in crisis as emotions are often running high. Therefore it is essential that counselors provide compassionate yet professional support during this difficult time. Additionally, counselors must take into account factors such as cultural background or language barriers when determining how best to approach a situation.

Strategies for Effective Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention can be a difficult task, especially during times of intense emotional distress. Therefore, it is important to know the strategies for effective crisis intervention so that individuals in crisis can receive the help they need. Learning the fundamentals of crisis intervention helps create an environment where individuals are more likely to receive assistance and support.

One effective strategy for crisis intervention is active listening. Active listening involves responding thoughtfully and respectfully to what someone in a state of crisis is saying. It also requires giving them your full attention while they speak and avoiding distractions or passing judgment on their situation. Additionally, it’s important to remain present with them throughout their expression of emotions and feelings without attempting to provide solutions right away. This basic skill of active listening can go a long way towards helping someone who is facing a learning crisis feel heard, understood and accepted in order to begin healing from their experience.

Impact on Corrections System

Photo of the main watch tower at SAN FRANCISCO, USA - November 4: The Alcatraz Island Prison on October 4, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Alcatraz is one of the most infamous prisons in American history.

Crisis intervention has been a key asset to the corrections system in recent years. It has allowed inmates and corrections officers to learn how to better handle crisis situations within the prison environment, while also providing inmates with an outlet for their emotions. Crisis intervention can help inmates better manage their feelings and reactions when faced with difficult situations, instead of resorting to violence or aggression.

Studies have shown that those who receive crisis intervention training are more likely to be successful in navigating learning crises than those who do not receive the training. This is especially true for those who have experienced trauma in their lives prior to being incarcerated. Through crisis intervention training, these individuals can learn strategies for managing difficult emotions and developing constructive ways of responding in high-stakes situations.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a crisis intervention team in the correctional system is an essential element of providing quality healthcare to incarcerated individuals. Crisis intervention has been proven to reduce recidivism, increase mental health stability, and improve overall wellbeing. Correctional systems can benefit from a comprehensive approach which includes both preventive and reactive strategies. It is important that the correctional staff and health professionals work together to ensure that all inmates have access to the resources they need during times of crisis.

Crisis Intervention not only has a huge impact on the criminal justice world but other areas of mental health care as well. If you are a licensed counselor, a mental health professional or perhaps work in a field that deals with crisis every day then maybe you would be interested in our Crisis Intervention Certification program? All of the crisis intervention courses are available online and are on open enrollment. For more information please visit our certification page.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_intervention

https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/correctional-system-introduction

Additional Resources: 

Barriers and Facilitators to Effective Mental Health Care in Correctional Settings. Olivia Kolodziejczak, Samuel Justin Sinclair. Journal of Correctional Health Care.  Jul 1, 2018
Access Here

Mental health screening tools in correctional institutions: a systematic review. Martin, M.S., Colman, I., Simpson, A.I. et al. . BMC Psychiatry 13, 275 (2013).
Access Here 

Improving Mental Health for Inmates. Heather Stringer /www.apa.org/ March 2019, Vol 50, No. 3
Access Here

Mental Health of Prisoners: Prevalence, Adverse Outcomes, and Interventions. Seena Fazel, et al. The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 3, Issue 9, 2016, Pages 871-881, ISSN 2215-0366.
Access Here

Utilizing Crisis Intervention Teams in Prison to Improve Officer Knowledge, Stigmatizing Attitudes, and Perception of Response Options. Canada, K. E., Watson, A. C., & O’kelley, S. (2021). Criminal Justice and Behavior48(1), 10–31.
Access Here

Trauma and Intimacy Video

Intimacy is something that is very delicate in life.  Humans choose very few to become intimate with and it involves a central ideal of trust.  When that trust is destroyed through trauma, either by the said person or through a stranger via a violent sexual act, then becoming intimate again can become a long journey.  The fears and scars due to trauma prevent the individual from opening up again and hence healing.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.

 

Please review the video below

Crisis Intervention in Acute Mental Crisis Situations

Individuals enter into difficult situations throughout life.  Some cope better than others.  Others face such distraught, that mental crisis can occur.  Loss, disaster and tragedy whether at once or over a gradual period of time can wear on an individual.  While there are many normal reactions to loss and crisis, individuals sometimes still need guidance through their emotion.  Many can feel numb, or grief trodden after an event.  Others may feel completely shell shocked and need certain gestures, words of kindness and physical and mental aid.

Still, some enter into mental crisis and find themselves suicidal or a danger to themselves or others.  It is important not just a a counselor, but also as a good friend to be able to help others under severe duress or in mental crisis.  Knowing what to say, what to look out for and where to find additional help for them is key in potentially preventing further damage to the person.

Someone in mental crisis needs someone who can help them de-escalate the situation and find pre-crisis emotional state

 

The article, “8 ways you can help a loved one — or even save their life — during a mental health crisis” by Rebecca Strong looks at ways a concerned friend can help another through acute crisis mental states.  She lists in her article numerous things to say, look out for, and where to find the appropriate help.  She reiterates the importance of validating someone’s loss or fears during crisis and trying to help them leave the acute phase of mental crisis.  She states,

“It’s natural to feel worried or even frightened when someone you care about is going through a mental health crisis, but you can do a lot to help them.  A mental health crisis can happen in response to trauma or overwhelming stressors that make it difficult to navigate everyday life. Facing this level of intense distress may, in some cases, lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide, though not everyone in crisis will have a plan to die.  One important first step toward offering compassionate support involves remembering your loved one didn’t choose to experience this distress. In short, a mental health crisis isn’t their fault.”

“8 ways you can help a loved one — or even save their life — during a mental health crisis”. Rebecca Strong.  Insider. October 14th, 2022.

Please click here to review the  full article.

Commentary

Helping individuals in crisis and acute mental trauma is important in saving a life or preventing further damage.  Many individuals are not rational or may even be suicidal.  This is not their normal frame of mind, so it is important to help them find pre-crisis cognitive thought.  Listening, guiding, and finding the necessary help are key elements to calming an individual to more rational thought.  Longer term mental crisis is also an issue. Lingering suicidal thoughts may creep in or the trauma may return and the individual may need someone to talk to in these dark moments.

Crisis intervention is a process whereby someone in a position of authority intervenes in a situation to prevent it from deteriorating further. It is typically used in cases where there is an imminent threat of harm to oneself or others, and the goal is to stabilize the situation and prevent further harm. Crisis intervention team members are trained to assess the situation and take appropriate action to de-escalate it.  The goal of crisis intervention is to help people stabilize their emotions and thoughts, and to develop a plan to cope with their challenges. Crisis intervention typically involves teaching people coping and problem-solving skills, and providing support and encouragement.

Many who are in crisis can contemplate suicide.  Suicide intervention refers to the process of intervening in someone’s life who may be suicidal. It is typically done by family, friends, or mental health professionals in order to prevent the person from harming themselves. The goal of intervention is to get the individual to safety and to connect them with resources that can help them in their time of need.  If someone you know is suicidal, the best thing you can do is to encourage them to seek professional help. You can also offer to support them in any way you can, but it’s important not to try to handle everything on your own. Let them know that you’re there for them and that they are not alone.

The process of assessing suicide threat generally includes four key steps: (1) identifying risk factors for suicide, (2) evaluating the severity of those risk factors, (3) making a determination as to whether the individual is in immediate danger of harming themselves, and (4) developing a plan to keep the individual safe. There are many different factors that can contribute to someone being at risk for suicide, so it is important to consider all of them when conducting an assessment.  Making a promise to call before anything drastic is underdone is an important promise to make with someone with a mental issue.

If issues point towards a deeper pathology, it is important to find the person professional help.  If the plan is real, the objects available and the mood depressive, calling the proper authorities is key.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important to remember that mental health crises can happen to anyone. If you or someone you know is in crisis, there are many resources available to help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. You are not alone.  By increasing public awareness of the issue, providing support and resources for those affected, and destigmatizing mental illness, we can make progress in helping those in mental health crisis.

Please also review AIHCP’s various behavioral health certifications.  The programs are designed for healthcare professionals and offer four year certifications.  Among the various programs include Grief Counseling, Crisis Intervention, Stress Management and Anger Management.  The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

 

Additional Resources

Suicide Prevention. CDC.  October 19th, 2022. Access here

What Is a Crisis Intervention?. Vertava Health. April 7th, 2022.  Access here

“Crisis Intervention Techniques for Mental Health”. Banyan Treatment Centers. Access here

“Crisis Intervention in Mental Health”.  Jim Collins.  March 19th, 2020.  Access here

What Is IOP in Mental Health?

Man lying on sofa talking to his therapist at therapy sessionWritten by Sam Darwin

IOP stands for Intensive Outpatient Program and patients with mental health issues are usually treated using this program. They go to treatment sessions like the in-patients, but the treatment is given during the day and not overnight.

The patients divide their time between home and the IOP center. These intensive outpatient programs aim to stabilize patients. They teach them techniques to manage their mental health conditions. Here’s what you need to know about IOP.

 

What Is Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

Intensive outpatient treatment is a form of mental health care. It provides the structure and support of therapy in a less restrictive setting than inpatient treatment. IOP aims to help you learn how to manage your symptoms and live more independently.

Intensive outpatient treatment consists of weekly or biweekly sessions. These are a combination of individual therapy and group therapy. Treatment is provided at a clinic or hospital, and patients attend for about four hours per day, five days a week. The length of the program varies, but it generally lasts between three months and one year.

IOP treatment focuses on helping you learn how to manage your mental health issues to live successfully in the community. Treatment often includes medication management and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

 

How Long Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment Last?

Depending on the patient, intensive outpatient treatment lasts anywhere from four to twelve months. The number of hours per week varies by treatment center but typically ranges from four to five hours a day.

In some cases, intensive outpatient treatment may be combined with partial hospitalization. This is for patients who need more intensive care than usual outpatient treatment can provide. How long you stay depends on several factors, including:

  • For how long have you experienced symptoms of mental illness?
  • Your support system at home (e.g., family members, friends)
  • Your financial situation
  • Your ability to follow through with treatment recommendation

Suppose you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and have difficulty managing your symptoms. Or you’re having difficulty functioning at home or in your workplace. In that case, you might enjoy intensive outpatient treatment. Participating in this program will likely improve your mood, energy, and productivity.

 

Who Needs Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

IOP can help people diagnosed with a mental health disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder. It’s also used to treat those struggling with alcohol or drug addiction.

IOP is appropriate for people who:

  • Have had a recent mental health crisis and are at risk of harming themselves or others
  • Have been hospitalized in the past six months and need additional therapy to prevent future hospitalizations
  • Are unable to take medications as prescribed because they have side effects
  • They are having trouble managing their symptoms without medications. This includes people who have tried medications but stopped taking them for side effects or other reasons.

 

girl sitting on the bank of the river

How Can I Get Started In IOP?

Inpatient treatment programs can be an important part of your recovery. You will gain from inpatient treatment if you struggle with a mental health condition. The level of care and support you receive from an inpatient treatment program will depend on the type of program you choose. Many different levels of care are available (IOP and residential treatment programs).

To start the process, you’ll have to contact your insurance provider to find out which facilities they cover. Once you have that information, it’s time to start looking into the different types of programs available near where you live or work.

Some people prefer to go straight into a residential program. Others prefer an intensive outpatient program first. Either way, getting started is as easy as visiting theheightstreatment.com and setting up an appointment for an assessment.

 

How Does IOP Help People With Mental Illness?

Inpatient treatment is one of the most effective ways to treat a person who has a severe mental illness. Inpatient treatment takes place in a hospital or other residential treatment facility. Here, professionals can receive around-the-clock care.

People hospitalized for mental illness often need more intensive services than outpatient treatment. This includes medication management and therapy. IOP can help people who are struggling with mental illness for a variety of reasons:

  • They may need more support than what their primary care provider offers.
  • They may have already been hospitalized but still have some symptoms that need to be addressed before returning home.
  • They may be unable to participate in outpatient therapy due to other factors such as work or family responsibilities.

 

How Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment Work?

Intensive outpatient treatment allows you to receive the same level of care that you would get in a hospital setting. But, the treatment is delivered on an outpatient basis. You will not be admitted to an inpatient unit or need to stay overnight. Instead, intensive outpatient programs usually involve regular visits with a therapist and group therapy sessions.

Intensive outpatient treatment may include individual and family therapy sessions if needed. These programs are designed for people who can’t leave their jobs or families for long periods.

Group therapy often involves working with patients who have similar issues as yourself, such as anxiety or depression. A therapist might also recommend joining a support group after intensive outpatient treatment. This way, you have someone else to talk to about your experiences.

Individual therapy is often used as a supplement to group therapy. It helps patients address specific problems related to their mental health issues. For example, suppose someone has an anxiety disorder and is having trouble leaving home every day for work. In that case, individual therapy could help them learn strategies for dealing with this problem to continue working without feeling anxious all day long.

 

Woman in mental health treatmentHow Does IOP Differ From Traditional Outpatient Programs?

In-patient treatment is one of the most effective options for individuals with severe mental illnesses. These services provide intensive care under a team of qualified professionals. They provide immediate help and support to patients who need it most.

In-patient treatment programs are very different from outpatient programs. Traditional outpatient programs are designed for people who live locally. They can attend regularly scheduled appointments during the week.

These outpatient programs aim to help patients maintain their independence. They teach skills and provide support. This allows them to live safely in the community without requiring constant supervision.

In-patient programs, however, provide 24-hour care in a controlled environment with many therapeutic services available on-site or nearby. While patients are not required to stay overnight, they can still stay for several days or weeks, depending on their needs and recovery plan.

In-patient psychiatric treatment provides intensive care for individuals suffering from severe mental illnesses.

 

What Types of Therapy are Offered During Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

The type of therapy offered in an intensive outpatient program depends on the needs of the individual. In general, most intensive outpatient programs offer a combination of therapies, including:

  • Individual therapy. This can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy, or supportive psychotherapy.
  • Group counseling. These groups are often led by a licensed mental health professional. They focus on recovery and addiction, stress management, or anger management.
  • Family therapy. Some clinics offer family therapy, including individual sessions with parents and their children. They also have group sessions for families who want to support each other through treatment.
  • Brief medication management (BMM). Suppose you have been prescribed medication for your mental health condition during an intensive outpatient program treatment. In that case, you may also be eligible for BMM sessions with a psychiatrist or medical doctor. This professional should specialize in treating mental health conditions with medications.

 

Importance of Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

IOPs aim to manage your symptoms, learn new skills, and improve your overall quality of life. Your psychiatrist and therapist will help you develop a treatment plan based on your needs and goals.

The benefits of IOP include:

  • A flexible schedule allows you to work, attend school, and take care of other responsibilities.
  • It helps you learn how to manage stress, handle problems in relationships, and cope with urges.
  • Providing a safe place to receive treatment while maintaining normal activities
  • You get a customized treatment plan based on your needs and goals
  • Short-term therapy can address specific issues in your life, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.
  • The opportunity to learn new skills to cope with symptoms and develop healthy relationships with others
  • You’ll get support from other people trying to overcome similar problems.

 

Conclusion

It is vital to remember one of the essential aspects of mental health: you are not alone. It can be difficult to remember even someone with a history of depressive episodes. IOP programs or therapy groups may help offer reassurance even with a mental illness. There is contact with others, and there will always be contact with others.

And no matter what, you are never alone. When you need inpatient treatment for mental health, it is crucial to choose a facility based on the needs of your loved one. IOP has many benefits and can help progress and maintain recovery.

 

 

If you are interested in more information visit AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Program here

Grief Counseling Certification Video on Nightmares and Unresolved Trauma

Trauma if it is not faced consciously will re-emerge in the subconscious.  Nightmares can bring back past trauma in an attempt to understand and face the eluded issue.  Due to disassociated mental material, trauma is trapped in the brain and not stored as a long term memory properly.  Due to this, the trauma memory becomes a rogue thought within the brain.  It haunts the individual through PTSD.  Grief Counseling can help.

Only till the trauma is resolved, faced and understood, can one begin to heal from the event.  Nightmares surrounding the trauma manifest as a way to face it but in an incomplete way.  The nightmares at first are more vivid and true to the event but overtime can become more symbolic.  The only way to overcome the nightmares is to face the trauma when awake.  Counselors can also help individuals who are facing nightmares with strategies to minimize the nightmare and prepare the mind for a more peaceful sleep.  Ultimately though, one has to be put in the work when awake to eventually overcome the haunting past traumatic event.

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management, Crisis Intervention and Grief Counseling Certifications.  The programs all deal with trauma in some aspects.  They are all online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.

The video below from AIHCP takes a closer look at nightmares and trauma.

 

 

Please review the video below

Stress Management Consulting Program Video on Anxiety

Anxiety is a constant source of stress like symptoms but without an actual stressor present.  Anxiety persists beyond the stressor and can sometimes be due to no stressor at all.  Anxiety can be a response also to past trauma that leaves the person in a constant state of fight or flight.  Obviously anxiety can cause numerous health issues putting the body constantly on red alert and be damaging to forming social bonds with other people.

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Program, as well as its Crisis Intervention Program and see if the programs meet your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Stress or Crisis Management.

Please review the video below on anxiety

Crisis Intervention Certification Blog on Crisis Intervention and Arrests

With numerous police clashes with citizens it is becoming more apparent that there needs to better mental health crisis training.  Mentally ill individuals need to be apprehended but de-escalation and better trained officers and first responders are essential to the safety of these individuals during arrest.  Crisis Intervention and training is essential to prevent individuals who need medical help from receiving abuse from officers.  Please also review AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Certification

Crisis training is important during and after arrest in facilities for mentally ill. Please also review AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Certification

 

The article, “How to Connect People in Crisis to the Care They Need” by Julie Wertheimer looks closer at the issue at hand.  She looks at how better training and after care can help solve the nation’s biggest issues of police brutality as well as issues where mentally ill are left to roam the streets.  She states,

“Meanwhile, county jails and other correctional facilities are ill-equipped to handle the treatment needs of people with behavioral health issues, and incarceration can exacerbate certain mental health disorders. Yet jails are often filled with people whose mental health needs could be better supported elsewhere. A study of Los Angeles County jails, for instance, determined that more than 60% of their population with mental illnesses likely could have been better served by community programs, as opposed to incarceration.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals looking for a four year certification in Crisis Intervention.

Crisis Intervention Training Blog on Compliance and Crisis in Policing

Police officers are public servants but when things become difficult with non compliant citizens, it can quickly lead to violence.  In the news, we see horrible incidents of mental health issues erupting between officers and suspects where individuals end up killed.  Officers need to know how to de-escalate situations and prevent unnecessary death of suspects or citizens in custody.  Crisis Intervention is important to help prevent bad things from happening. Please also review AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Training program

Interaction with police should not be a dangerous thing. Please also review AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Training

 

The article, “How officers can move people from crisis to compliance” by Sergeant Christopher Bax looks closer at helping officers better work for safer outcomes with the public.  He states,

“Moving someone from a state of crisis toward compliance is not easy. By recognizing indicators of emotional distress, gaining information through active listening, communicating understanding, forming connections and making informed decisions, officers can help a person in crisis while achieving the goal of voluntary compliance.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Officers can benefit from additional Crisis Intervention Training.

Please also review AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Training Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking training in Crisis Intervention.

Grief Counseling Program Blog on Trauma and Restoring Intimacy

Sexuality and intimacy are crucial aspects of human life.  It allows two to bond and share the deepest feelings with a wholesome sexual experience.  An experience that is pure and filled with love as opposed as corrupt and full of hate.  During trauma, individuals can lose intimacy and a healthy understanding of love and sex.  This can create obstacles to fully reacclimating into society because one is not able to form a new bond or attachment with another human being.  The act of intimacy and the act of sex in themselves can also become triggers and reminders of past abuse and push the person away from these normal and healthy bonds.  Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program

One who has experienced trauma must eventually face intimacy, trust and friendship and if desired, a more deeper friendship in the contract of a sexual relationship.  Unfortunately, trauma makes this difficult and can prevent the person from an important fountain of healing that can bring the person closer to becoming one again.  In this article, we will look at a few issues of intimacy and sexuality that someone who has faced trauma will deal with and how that someone can learn to trust and love again.  Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Courses

In intimacy, one opens oneself to another.  This can mean many things to a survivor of sexual trauma or betrayal.  One feels the loss of a control.  In isolation, one feels one has the power to control what occurs and the fear of opening oneself, puts oneself partly at the power of another.  It is exactly this power that a trauma survivor fears.  In addition, trauma survivors fear abandonment.  If one opens up, then one risks the chance of being hurt and betrayed again.  Hence many experience abandonment issues.   Intimacy also opens up the chance of rejection.  Trauma survivors fear the thought of being rejected for who they are and may very well reject someone before they can be rejected.

It is important with intimacy to accept fears.  This is the hardest part, but only until one dismisses the fears, can one again learn to have a trusting relationship.   The fear may be in the other person, or in one’s own tendencies but one cannot have the healing powers of intimacy without trust and letting fears go.  One also needs to reject ideas and notions that can block intimacy with others.  Many who have been traumatized universally label everyone.  All men/women are bad is a common over generalization.  The perpetrator was not good but not all people are bad.  This central concept can take time to finally become a reality again. Other false narratives include assuming no one has every experienced what one has experienced, or that one cannot ever burden another with one’s issues.  In addition, others feel unloved and if anyone ever knew what occurred, then that person would no longer be lovable.  Flaws are seen as more prominent and as a sign of weakness, when in reality everyone has flaws.

It can be difficult after trauma to again show intimacy and open oneself up. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program

 

Learning how to discuss the past and discuss the future are critical communication skills.  Individuals who fear intimacy need to be better able to express to another and share how to handle issues and conflicts.  Without releasing the fear, false notions and opening up communication, then a person suffering from trauma will not be able to open again and find the value and healing within a friendship or a deeper relationship.

One of the biggest blocks to a deeper relationship is again seeing sexuality as wholesome and natural.  Sex in its very nature promotes union, trust, and love but the trauma has distorted the true value of intimacy and sexuality.  Following an assault, sex itself can become a trigger to a PSTD response.  A certain touch can remind one of the trauma and turn something of love into something of abuse.  The person has a hard time viewing sex as holy and the person as sacred.  The rape or assault has stripped sexuality and intimacy of its dignity and the person has difficult times again experiencing these feelings and senses in a positive way.

Sex can also be seen as a way to control others, or it may be a device to fix what went wrong before.  Unhealthy expressions and sexual behavior can result in different directions from fear of sex to promiscuity later in life.  It is hence important to remove these past negative images.  One image that is especially unhealthy is seeing all sexual behavior and correlating it with a sense of disgust.  It is important to learn skills to neutralize this feeling of disgust and help re-evaluate these past negative experiences with positive experiences.

In rebuilding oneself for intimacy and sexual relations, the traumatized need to overcome many hurdles of trust and intimacy but certain steps can help to start the healing process.  Disgust and association with trauma can be overcame with patience and time and understanding from one’s new partner.

It is hence important to again see certain parts of the body as holy and good.  They cannot be seen or associated as evil in themselves.  The action must be separated from the part of the body itself.  Second, one needs to learn neutralize disgust.  Ideas that the body is an object to be used must be dismissed and replaced with ideals that the body is a temple and a gift.  This not only deals with the other person, but also how one views oneself.  One can further separate the feeling of disgust with sex itself and shame.   The shame with trauma needs to be separated from the act itself.  By learning to separate negative feelings and events from the body and act itself, one can better open up to others.  One can then create a new narrative where the event with a different person is not hateful or abusive but instead filled with love and respect.

Unfortunately, while rebuilding each other, partners should be conscious of others past.  Certain boundaries may initially needed and a slow crawl until mutual comfort is met.  Flashbacks can occur and it is important to recreate intimacy and the sexual experience together to form new wholesome memories.  This requires patience, counseling as well as awareness.

Healthy sexuality is the ultimate key.  While intimacy does not necessarily involve sexuality, nor the necessity of entering into a sexual relationship, one must still restore a sense of the sacred to the sexual act.  Sex is not about control, secretive, shameful, wrong, abusive, dis-connective, controlling, superficial, or selfish but instead is a spiritual, emotional and physical act that binds.  It builds self esteem and gives proper pleasures associated with that.  It is celebrated and gives deeper meaning to life.  It does not abuse, but promotes a feeling of unity and safety.  It honors and loves and builds two instead of breaking down another. Finally, it does not reject, but it also accepts the imperfect and celebrates the two.

For some, sex is more than naturally just beautiful but also sacred from a religious view.  Sex in this regard binds two as one before God and calls forward a vocation that goes beyond the symbolic act of sex, but carries itself in all matters of life itself.  Spiritually, the destruction of sex to anything less is not of God and is a misuse of this divine gift to not only bring forth new life but also unify two into one.

Restoring intimacy with a victim of abuse can take time and patience but it can again reveal the goodness of intimacy and love

 

One can restore intimacy, and if desired, a healthy sexuality after assault, but naturally, the traumatized must learn to reprogram one’s mind to not only not fear but to open up and let go past narratives that prevent the leap of love and faith.  The traumatized must also learn differentiate the corruption of the perpetrator from the holiness and goodness of the action itself and how it can be experienced with a good person.

It is a most disgusting sin to harm another through sex because it injures the person not only physically but also emotionally.  It affects one’s ability to feel intimacy again and feel trust.  It is more than a theft of virginity or physical freedom, but is a theft of self, but fortunately, through healing, counseling and prayer, one can again heal.

Please also review AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Certification, Stress Management Consulting Program as well as AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program.  The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in these disciplines.

 

 

Source: “The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery and Growth” by Glenn R Schiraldi, PhD

PTSD from the Mayo Clinic

PTSD from the National Institute of Mental Health

When PTSD and Intimacy Collide: What Really Happens? By Tia Hollowood

Understanding Intimacy Avoidance in PTSD by Annie Tanasugarn Ph.D., CCTSA

Stress Management Consulting Blog on Happiness, Meaning and Self Esteem

During recover from severe trauma, the person must be able to reconnect the dreadful event with his or her life story.  The injured person must understand the event as a chapter that has meaning to one’s life and connect it to the present and how to cultivate the future.

As one progresses in their treatment of processing the traumatic memories, one will need to create future chapters that are not defined by the evil of the trauma, but are defined by growth from it.  The present and future need to find happiness, meaning and self esteem in order to self sustain any recovery and help the person integrate back into society.

Individuals suffering from trauma and PTSD have a difficult time finding happiness, meaning and self esteem in their lives. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and Grief Counseling Program

 

Happiness can be subjective in regards to what makes one smile, but at the most inner most level, it is universal.  Happiness when misplaced in material things can never lead to true happiness, but values and beliefs and love and family can all have more long lasting meaning to sustaining happiness and leading one to it.   One who has suffered severe trauma may have difficulty defining oneself or finding love and connection with the world, so it is important to understand how again to be happy.  Obviously placing one’s faith in the most elements of happiness is critical.  Far too many who even suffer no trauma, still choose false idols of happiness.  They place their love in things over people, self over family, and in ideas that die with time instead of live eternally.

Some common traits of those who experience some relevance of true happiness can be found in those who possess a healthy self esteem and peace of mind.  These individuals cultivate virtue and love within themselves and with others.  They have healthier experiences with social interactions and bonds that form from these interactions.  Most hold a belief in something greater than than themselves.  Most find this in faith and religion, but any type of objective code that binds one beyond oneself, gives a person purpose and meaning.

Happy individuals usually also possess a mastery of their life.  They have believable goals, moderate ambitions, and mastery of their schedule and how things are accomplished.  They are not in chaos but order.  Furthermore, they possess an optimistic outlook on life that is not always defined by success but by self and self worth.   Unfortunately, like a thief in the night, grief and loss can occur.  Even the happiest person can be robbed of everything, even beyond family, virtue and love.  Grief is the price of love in this temporal world.  With that truly happy individuals will deal with pain and sorrow and trauma but they will ultimately have the meaning and self esteem to guide themselves through the journey of grief and adapt and adjust to the loss.

Happy individuals are not always happy or content but they are not constantly dragged down with hate, blame, bitterness and helplessness.  They may deal with trauma but eventually again find the light at the end of the tunnel.  Some may require help but ultimately, their spirit may be hurt, but never killed.

Individuals who experience trauma or PTSD may not be able to find happiness in their life.  They may not have the skills or the trauma was so great, it paralyzed their spirit.  As those who experienced trauma reawaken, they need to work towards re-involvement into society and hobbies.  They need to form and organize a plan.  They need to stop worrying as much and become more optimistic and find value in life itself.

This centers around having meaning.  Without meaning, something is useless.  So it is imperative for those recovering from trauma to again find meaning to life.  What meaning or direction can they decipher from the horrific event they witnessed or were apart of?  How can this event give them meaning forward?  How can the person move forward from it and do new things?  Victor Frankyl during his days in the Nazi concentration camp found meaning in survival and a deeper sense of justice that would one day come.  He found meaning in the smaller things that reflected goodness that existed among the evil.

A deep core to meaning usually involves having a commitment to something higher than oneself.  Whether it be a philosophy, or a faith, one can anchor oneself despite any waves of the ocean of life.  No matter what occurs, even it temporarily numbs, one is able to find course due to meaning.  This moral compass can find true north in the most terrific storms.  Many individuals are stripped of meaning at a young age because of trauma.  They are unable to again find meaning.

It is important then to create self esteem.  This may be difficult for someone who has been stripped of all dignity, but through therapy and work on self, one again can start to find value in oneself and separate oneself from the trauma.  In finding self esteem, one can find meaning and happiness again.

Self esteem looks at value in self.  It correlates with the numerous qualities that happy people experience.  At its core, one sees intrinsic value in self, unconditional worth, the experience of love and growth in life.

Self esteem is realistic in self.  It is based in truth, even in imperfections.   It is appreciative of one’s good qualities and ignites positivity in oneself.  It does not create a false arrogance or deception but sees all as equally beautiful in different ways.

Furthermore, self esteem is able to separate the value of one’s core from externals.  Bad things that happen or mistakes are not the core of one’s soul.  One may have had bad things accidentally occur, but that does not make oneself a bad person.  Instead of “BECAUSE” of that, I am “THEREFORE ” this or that, the mind sees that  “EVEN THOUGH” this occurred, “NEVERTHELESS” I am still me.  The EVEN THOUGH/NEVERTHELESS logic separates someone from the incident.  It does not make the person a product of the incident.  This slight change of words creates an entirely different person.

Trauma victims need to cultivate self esteem. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program

 

Individuals with good self esteem are able to see their core self absent of bad events.  They are able to truthfully see the bad and good, but not define oneself by any bad, but only work on the good.  They are able to put this optimistic energy into change.

Again, when things go astray, they do not see these things as permanent but temporary.  They do not define lack of success as themselves.  They do not look to be better or less than anyone and they are more likely to see someone different due to position not necessarily more or less innate worth.

Trauma can destroy self worth.  It can make one feel horrible one self and equate oneself to the trauma.  One cannot differentiate between core and accidentals.  One hence is always feeling less and inadequate.  This can lead to competition with others, or fear of being in the open due to fear of failure.  It can cause mistrust and bitterness and envy.  It can force one to deny any meaning in life but trauma and the product of that trauma.

Happiness, meaning and self esteem are key to functioning individuals.  Trauma can take it temporarily or permanently for some.  It is important to anchor oneself to something more than the event.  To anchor oneself even to something more than this world can ever take.  We live in a valley of tears and bad things happen to good people, but there is good too and light that can be found.  Those who are able to find meaning and self esteem and value in something greater are better able to navigate and cope with trauma during life.

Counselors can help others learn these skills and cultivate these values.

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program, as well as AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and Crisis Intervention Program.  The programs are online and self paced and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Stress Management Consulting, Grief Counseling or Crisis Counseling.

 

SOURCE

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery and Growth by Glenn R. Schiraldi, PhD