Grief Counseling Certification Blog on Grief Support Groups

Support groups of any type can help an individual overcome many past traumas.  The collective sharing of trauma can help mutual members heal and learn from each other.  Individuals with any type of mental or emotional trauma sometimes find the social outlet of support groups to be beneficial.   These groups can be from basic human loss to more complicated issues as PTSD and other trauma.  Individuals seeking support group help should already be somewhat past the initial shock of loss.  In other cases, they should not be a danger to themselves or others. Support groups should be narrowed to their most basic needs to have the most maximum benefit.

Support groups provide an excellent opportunity for the bereaved to be introduced to like wounded individuals.  It counters the isolation and shaming within society and opens a new door of acceptance and sharing.   Groups provide emotional, spiritual and physical support in a safe and trusting environment.  Furthermore, groups allow individuals to explore their feelings but also to help others.  If one is emotionally ready and able, support groups can be the final touch of healing to help a person adjust to the loss and continue in a healthy fashion on their grief journey.

Bereavement support groups are an excellent vehicle to help others deal and cope better with grief. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


The first step in facilitating a support group is to discover the group that one wants to reach.  Many independent programs are sometimes founded by an individual who shares a similar loss and wishes to not only help one’s own self but others.  Some families of school shootings, will start groups in memory of a lost loved one as a way of continuing one’s name.  Other established societies or institutions will create groups and assign trained professionals to guide the groups.

Groups can be led by one person but it is really important to have a reliable co leader who shares similar values and understands the importance of the maintaining group structure.  In addition to leadership, most groups are held within the organization premises, but independent groups may meet in public places such as churches, schools or libraries.  It is important to find a spot that is quiet enough to allow privacy and a sense of the sacred.  Lighting and sometimes music can be employed.  An area that has the necessary academic tools is also important.  White boards and other educational tools should be part of any group’s resources to explore issues of grief.

The group should be no more than 12 as to avoid overwhelming the leader and not permitting enough time to help each individual.  It is also important to pre-screen potential group members to discover if they are ready for group support.  Some members may be reluctant to join and are being forced, while others may not be ready to join a social group to discuss loss.  Still others may require personal counseling due to deeper trauma that a group cannot help heal properly.

Within the group it is also critical to establish rules to each member.  Meetings should be close ended with a start and end time and regular weekly or monthly cycle of meetings.  In addition if utilizing online meetings to supplement or replace physical meetings, it is important to keep the same structure of start and close and maintain routine.  Issues of privacy may arise and it is important upon utilizing various online resources that individuals partake knowing the critical element of privacy and be in a closed off room from the noise of their respective homes.

Other ground rules should include the importance of confidentiality.  What is said within the group cannot be shared with others outside the group.  It is critical to build this sense of community and trust.  It is important to share one’s grief account, but it is also important that other people may resist.  It is critical not to force others to share until they are ready.  Likewise, for those who choose to share, it is important to set up time designations for each to talk to prevent the more out going from monopolizing the time.  While it is good to help others, it is also important for group members to understand that advice is only to be given unless requested by another member.  In addition, interruptions must be avoided and forewarned as unacceptable behavior.

It is to be understood within the group that grief is unique to each.  It is important to understand that grief is part of life and not a disease.  Finally it is important to emphasize that there is no true recovery in grief but it is an ongoing process.  Communication and sharing grief is a life time commitment.

Most grief support groups are close ended, education based and open discussion. These three elements are key to their functioning.  The educational element is key in teaching the individuals about the science of grief and how grief works in the body but the open discussion allows for the more subjective element to emerge.  Most grief groups have texts, materials, and home work assignments, especially journals.  Individuals are encouraged to write and share, as well as bring pictures, and other key objects of the loved one on certain days to share.  Evaluations are also utilized on the final day.

Individuals who are looking to promote a grief support group who do not have an institution’s support, can find multiple ways to advertise their group.  Word of mouth, online chat, facebook pages, posters and flyers, email lists of professional leaders, local free media and direct communication with professionals within the field can help individuals discover your group.

So far, we have discussed the basics of the group itself, but leadership will determine the success of the group.  The leaders ability to be a companion in grief but also an educator in the field.  Education, experience, and commitment to helping the bereaved is key for ultimate success.  Excellent programs do not bloom over night but are the product of meticulous planning.  Every meeting should be flexible but have a plan and topic.

First, the leader must possess some basic qualities.  Without these qualities, even the best presented material will come across as uncaring and superficial.

A leader must possess empathy.  The ability to perceive another’s experience and communicate it back.  It allows the person to feel the other in an emotional sense and allow one to truly understand the feelings of another.  A leader must also possess respect. Everyone in the group must be respected as special and unique and have inherent value.  Finally, a leader needs to present himself or herself as genuine.  They must be sincere in their teaching, listening and companioning.

Communication skills are key in this respect.  Certain counselors and teachers learn various nuances of the trade through time and practice, but the skills of being a good listener can be learned over time.  The ability to enter into communication and value the person is the first key.  Listening can take the form in many ways.  Attention and attending to each person one at time is the first key.  In this paraphrasing can be a key skill to help others.  This not only ensures one correctly hears, but also ensures the other person hears what they are saying.  Clarification of issues is also key to clear up any confusing issues.  Furthermore perception checking can be a key tool in addressing the individual and allows them to reflect and respond.  Sometimes, leaders will needmake observations regarding an individual, and other times, a leader may need to provide some type of acknowledgement.  From a group setting, a leader must also help others focus on topics, provide necessary information and help others stay on course.  When problems occur, it is always best to deal with at the end of the meeting.  Any leader will face various issues in a meeting ranging from the nature of sadness itself or problem members.  Learning how to cope through these issues is a key development in any leader.  There are a variety of skills that make a support group leader a good leader and learning more about communication and ways to help others be heard and open, are key to support groups.

Grief Support Group Leaders need to have various skills and values to succeed. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


Any group goes through phases of growth.  A good leader will be able to identify the growth.  The first phase is the warm up phase.  In this phase, the group is feeling each other out.  Individuals are trying to see if others think like themselves. Other personalities are emerging and whether to trust remains a question.  It is important in these early meetings to give time for individuals to get to know each other and share small stories.  These boundaries are further explored in the second phase and following meetings.  Individuals tentatively begin to test the water and explore boundaries within the group.  They should also begin to start seeing themselves as part of a group.

As the group develops and becomes closer, there is a deeper exploration phase.  The work of grief begins to take shape.  Instead of why, individuals are helping each other work through the grief. Following this phase, is the most important phase of a commitment to continued growth and healing.    Others will take active interest if another member is absent in this phase.  The final phase is preparation for ending the group.  For some, this can be a loss in itself but it must become something of accomplishment.  Others within this phase can share information, numbers and continue to form friendships beyond the group itself.

In any social event, there is a social psychology that is played out.  Within a group of any type, these things will be played out.  It is important for the leader to respect uniqueness of individuals but also guide the overall theme of the group to work through grief.  A successful leader understands the nature of grief but also possesses the qualities to help others through grief.  The group can become a great healing device is properly led.  Preparation and commitment are the keys.


If you would like to learn more about AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification, then please review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program and see if it matches 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.

Source: The Understanding Your Grief Support Group Guide: Starting and Leading  Bereavement Support Group by Alan D Wolfelt, PhD


Grief Counseling Certification Blog on Life After Divorce

Life after a divorce can be very difficult.  Not only is the heart grieving the loss of a loved one but also the loss of a marriage. With the loss of a marriage comes a myriad of secondary losses and secondary headaches that can lead to immense grief and intense anger.  Understanding divorce and how to better cope can be an important part in rebuilding one’s life.

Divorce is a loss that has additional secondary losses. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


The article, “Life After Divorce: How You Can Start Again” from Cleveland Clinic’s Healthessentials looks closer on how one can slowly start to rebuild after divorce.  The article states,

“Whether it’s rife with conflict or not, divorce is rarely easy. When you’re ending a marriage, you may struggle to move on with your life. But you can successfully work through the emotions and start a new life after divorce, says clinical social worker specialist Karen Tucker, LISW-S, ACSW.  “You may feel rejected, angry, profoundly hurt or out of control. It’s also possible that you’ll feel relieved and hopeful,” Tucker says. “It’s important to pay attention to your emotions and to get help when you need it.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification, as well as AIHCP’s Anger Management Program and see if they meet your academic and professional goals.  The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking these types of certifications.

Grief Counseling Certification Blog on Depression and Diagnosis/Treatment Obstacles

Individuals with Major Depressive Disorder have more to deal with other issues than just the symptoms.  There are numerous steps and follow ups and other administrative issues to deal with even before they can receive treatment itself.  It can take a little time before everything is set up and a plan of action is ready to be utilized.  Numerous obstacles can make it difficult for some to even get a proper diagnosis and treatment.  This is unfortunate situation for many suffering with depression.

Administrative and insurance issues can cause lack of treatment for many suffering from depression. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification


The article, “Top 8 Issues in Major Depressive Disorder” by Sidney Zisook takes a closer look at issues regarding diagnosis and the process of dealing with depression from a professional standpoint.  She states,



“In summary, while there has been an explosion of knowledge in the neuroscientific basis of mental disorders, genomics, neuroimaging and neuropsychology, there remains considerable room for growth in the way we provide equitable access to evidence-based treatments; define and diagnose MDD; create evidence-informed first- and next-step, personalized treatment decisions; conceptualize TRD and consider replacing or supplementing it with DTD; develop novel interventions that provide options for better tolerated, more effective, more sustainable treatments; and more effectively train future clinicians to competently employ a broader spectrum of evidence-based treatments than the current norm; and shift the culture of medicine to one that prioritizes optimizing our own wellness and mental health.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches 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

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.

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.

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



Grief Counseling Certification Video on School Shootings and Traumatic Grief

School shootings are a fear of any parent or family member.   It is a scary feeling knowing that a place of safety and knowledge can be dangerous.  School shootings not only keep parents up late at night, but also students, teachers, administrators and the community.   The fear of such a traumatic loss can haunt society every time it occurs and cause ripple effects across the nation.  It is important to help stop these needless tragedies and help those who have suffered through them.

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.

Please also review the video below

Grief Counseling Program Video on Miscarriage and Loss

The loss of a child via miscarriage is something many women and couples suffer alone.  Since there is usually no body to bury, the miscarriage is seen as less than losing a child.  The woman or couple are left with less support and not seen as parents that loss a child.  This disenfranchisement can cause unresolved grief for the woman or couple.  It is important to recognize the loss of a child via miscarriage.


Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Program and see if it matches 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

Pastoral Thanatology Certification Video on Near Death Experience


Near Death Experiences are a universal phenomenon throughout the world.  No culture is void of their presence.  What does it mean?  Is there a scientific explanation or is it a metaphysical experience?

Please also review AIHCP’s Pastoral Thanatology Certification as well as AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification.  The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.


Please review the video below

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.



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

Stress Management Consulting Blog on Dream Management in PTSD

Dreams are the subconscious mind actively sorting out things while the conscious mind sleeps.  Dreams cover a wide variety of issues that the person deals with on a daily basis and helps resolve those issues.  From a religious standpoint, some contend dreams can also be of a supernatural origin, but even within this theology, these would be rare circumstances.  Science and psychology see dreams only as an internal response to external events while one sleeps.

Nightmares can have many symbolic monsters to interpret. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Training


How one dreams and the symbols within those dreams can be confusing.  Some dreams are less important in processing, while other dreams can become more persistent in regards to unresolved issues.  The more trauma and intense, the more intense the pushback within the dream.  In this intensity, sometimes dreams can take a darker path and become nightmares.  Those who experience PTSD usually also experience intense nightmares regarding the event and at more common rate that the regular population.  The more recent the event, the more detailed, while the more processed the trauma, the more symbolic the dream may become.

Unprocessed and walled off trauma that is dissociated manifests in dreams.  Sometimes, these dreams will create a different outcome or they will push a certain theme.  Various symbols in the dream can haunt a person.  Monsters, shadows,  danger, being chased, being punished, re-threatened, trapped, abused or other physical injuries can occur in these types of intense nightmares.  Most nightmares occur in the rapid eye movement of sleep which is later in the night.  They are created through the anxiety and fear associated with the trauma.

Until trauma is faced, these dreams will continue to haunt someone.  It is hence very important to try to understand what the mind is trying to tell someone regarding the trauma.   Counselors suggest confiding to others about one’s dreams.  Relate the setting, what happened, how one felt and the various symbols within the dream.    It is important to ask how one felt, if one felt helpless or felt fear or shame to better understand what the mind is trying to communicate.  Analyze the dream and attempt to see what one’s mind is trying to sort out.  Does it relate to the past trauma?  Does it relate to how one acted?  Does it relate to how one feels about the event?  Various symbols within dreams usually have deeper meanings.  The monsters themselves have meaning if one looks to analyze the dream.

For example, monsters or being chased or attacked, usually indicates one is running away from something in life itself or is afraid to face something.  This is why it is common in PTSD.  Individuals are terrified to face or confront the “monster”.  It is important to understand who the monster is before oneself in the dream

Injuries, or wounds in a dream indicate a feeling of weakness or powerlessness in one’s life.  This again is common for victims who feel they have lost all power in their lives due to the attacker.

Falling is closely associated with those who feel they have no control in their lives.    They do not feel like they are in command within their personal or work life.

Being trapped is another common symbol that expresses the need to escape from a bad situation.

Whatever the type of dream and its symbol, it is important to access what it means to you

Some counselors suggest in addition to confiding to another about the dream to imagine the dream at its most intense moment and relate, “It is just a dream”.  Understand that it has no power over oneself.  It is good to remind oneself before bed in this regard.

Those suffering PTSD experience more nightmares. Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals


Also consider confronting the monsters in one’s dream.  While awake, ask what do these monsters want?  You can also confront the dream by creating an alter ending.  Write or draw and discuss  the new ending and see if it has any result.  Dreams change as one better copes.  Coping and facing trauma will indirectly affect one’s subconscious mind and help one process dissociated material that may be haunting one while one sleeps.

Before sleep, also practice deeper breathing and meditation, as well as Progressive Deep Muscle Relaxation strategies.

Dreams are what dominate one’s mind during sleep.  When one is experiencing PTSD, the trauma will find a way to be expressed and sometimes dreams are the only outlet until one chooses to cope and deal with the issue itself.  Learning to cope with PTSD, especially through dream management is critical to overcoming PTSD and helping the subconscious mind properly store the memory.

If you would like to learn more about Stress Management Training, then please review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Stress Management.



Some sources

“What Do Our Nightmares Mean?” Please click here

“10 Horrible but Common Nightmares and Their Meanings”  Please click here

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Source Book : A Guide to Healing, Recovery and Growth by Glenn R. Shiraldi, PhD

Grief Counseling Training Blog on High Functioning Depression

Many individuals deal with depression on a daily basis.  They may not even know they are depressed and push through life.  High functioning depression does not leave one bed ridden but parasitically wears the individual down on a daily basis.  Like most depression, it may not have an acute reason or loss but merely manifests due to family history or past unresolved trauma.  One however continues to function within society and fulfill social obligations.

Many individuals are depressed yet still high functioning. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Training


The article, “Understanding High-Functioning Depression” by Sean Glover takes a closer look at High Functioning Depression.  He states,

“High-functioning depression, also referred to as dysthymia, can be hard to spot. It doesn’t look like stereotypical depression. Unlike major depressive episodes, which are intense, debilitating, and time-limited, high-functioning depression is low-level, chronic, and doesn’t have a clear trigger. Its very existence can feel maddening.”

To review the entire article, please click here

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