A website on trauma must deal with pain and fear, with memories that were buried, and memories that push their way back to the surface. With barriers and defences, shame and avoidance. And nightmares. It would bear witness to constriction, and diminishment, to fragmentation and confusion. But most of all it must deal with the core principle of posttraumatic stress disorder – the duality of chaos and rigidity that results from the damage to neural pathways and the nervous system.
A website on trauma and healing will deal with pain and the courage to face it, the fear of remembering, and the courage to bear it. It will bear witness to a process of intuition and intelligence joining hands to change patterns, discovery and connection interlocking like jigsaw pieces. The opening up of possibility and recognition of strengths and resourcefulness. But most of all a website on trauma and healing will offer information about what trauma is, and why it has the power to destroy lives. Knowledge IS power. With the knowledge of what has happened in the brain, and how it can be healed, survivors of trauma can take back their power, finally make informed choices about how to manage their internal and external environment and be reunited with their inner self, from whence the deep love flows.
CONTENTS OF THIS HOME PAGE
About this Website
The Structure of the Website
About the Author
Contact Form to write to Website Facilitator
ABOUT THIS WEBSITE
“Pathways of Mine/d” gives both cognitive/linguistic and visual expression to the journey of Integration that is the pathway for any survivor of trauma and abuse who undertakes the healing process.
The website is continually being updated, so I have created an “Updates” page in Blog format (latest at the top). For readers who visit the site from time to time, the Updates page will direct them and provide a link to any recent additions.
I have included an A-Z Index, to allow readers to locate the many sub-sections that are necessary when providing complex information. All Index items are linked to their relevant pages in the drop-down menus.
Why “Pathways of Mine/d”?
The term Integration refers to neural integration, as used by Daniel J. Siegel in his field of Interpersonal Neurobiology. The background, or context of this website is the Brain, its right and left hemispheres, and its neural pathways. The flow of energy and information throughout the brain gives rise to the phenomenon we know as Mind. Conversely, the phenomenon we call Mind influences the flow of energy and information throughout the brain. So the website title draws on three images: the Mind, each person’s experience of it (Mine), and the process of seeking insight and understanding so as to bring about change and growth (having Mined the depths).
The website has been created as a vehicle for the sharing of scientific information about the neurobiology of trauma and healing (integration), and that requires some quite ‘dense’ description and explanation about the workings of the brain.The format and style of “Pathways of Mine/d” will include visual and creative presentation, drawing on the strengths and gifts of right hemisphere function, as embraced by approaches such as creative arts therapy, emotional release therapy and somatic or body-focussed therapies. Through the inclusion of the Gallery and creative imagery in the educational pages, I hope to have a healthy balance representing both hemispheres of the human brain.
Trauma, PTSD, childhood trauma (Complex PTSD/Developmental Trauma Disorder) and healing are now mainstream subjects, addressed by many, many websites informing and educating people about trauma, its mental health consequences, and the kinds of therapy that have been found to be useful in healing. There are websites of official trauma institutions, but many of them, like mine, are personal projects or blogs, based on experience. As I discover them I will include the link in ‘Resources’ under The Healing Journey tab.
Further resources and readings: the main drop down headings include a page of references at the bottom (‘further resources and readings’). There are dozens, if not hundreds, of possible references for trauma, PTSD, Complex PTSD and treatment options. These are readily available elsewhere, so I am only including texts that have been relevant in writing the website. Later as time permits, I might add to these and give brief reviews of texts that I would recommend.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE WEBSITE
Home Page: About the Website. About the Author. Contact Form to contact the author of this site.
Trauma – What is Trauma? How does the mind become traumatized? Explanations about the trauma response and its component parts in the brain. Dissociation. An evolutionary model of our response to danger .
How Posttraumatic Stress Disorder develops, and implications for subsequent treatment. Why van der Kolk and Siegel are the two specialists featured on this website. The role of the Vagus Nerve in PTSD.
21st Century brain science and its relevance for understanding posttraumatic stress disorders and their treatments. Daniel J. Siegel and Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB). Integration, Memory and the Mirror Neuron System. The link between IPNB, creativity and the Arts Therapies.
Complex PTSD [new preferred label: Developmental Trauma Disorder]- How adult capture and torture leads to a more complex form of post traumatic stress disorder. How childhood trauma and abuse leads to a combination of attachment system damage and complex PTSD. How are children traumatised by abuse, and what are the long-term consequences? How does PTSD differ from C-PTSD [or DTD]?
The Attachment System – the basis of Developmental Trauma Disorder. Bessel A.van der Kolk, pioneer and world expert in the study of trauma and PTSD, presents latest research into the most effective treatments for child- or adult-acquired trauma disorders.
The Healing Journey: is therapy a good option for someone who has been traumatised and if so, why? What kinds of therapy are recommended? The essential issues that must be addressed on the healing journey. How Mindfulness, EMDR and Emotion-focussed therapies intersect in a common goal. Examples of therapy sessions showing the integration of creative and cognitive modes of working.
An Arts Therapy Gallery, with accompanying descriptions. Artworks done by people in therapy.
An Index A-Z of the contents of the website.
Updates to the website (in Blog form) – Events – Articles of Interest: material that doesn’t quite fit in the educational sections. Upcoming conferences and workshops, articles, information.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Hassanah Briedis, M.C.A.T.
This website has been created as a project of interest and to make it easier for my clients to access files and information.
I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in Melbourne, Australia. This is my statement of belief about psychotherapy and how it can be framed in a way that is very different to traditional psychiatry, which has remained embedded in the medical model of mental health treatment:
“The therapeutic relationship is an agreement between two equal human beings, that one will take the role of the listener, teacher and companion, while the other takes the role of the seeker, the one needing to make changes in their life. In all other respects the two are equal, though different. The person enacting the role of therapist has no right to disempower the one taking the role of client, nor to withhold information or assume superiority or authority. However, the therapeutic alliance will include a mandate given by client to therapist, to hold the space and keep it safe, and to hold in mind possible treatment strategies, while the client is immersed in her or his work.” [adapted from Schachtel, The “Impossible Profession” 1986]
Around 1994 I was doing research into the effects of childhood trauma and PTSD. I happened upon a book that would change the direction of my life. It was The International Handbook on Traumatic Stress Syndromes, edited by J.P.Wilson and B.Raphael (1993). It was the chapter entitled ‘Biological Response to Psychic Trauma’ by Bessel A. van der Kolk and Jose Saporta that opened my eyes to the fundamentally biological nature of the trauma response.
The insight made possible by their research swept away my culturally constructed view that mental illness existed in an abstract psychological space – a purely ‘mental’ space. The old ‘body – mind’ divide collapsed. I realised that PTSD is not a mental illness, it is the behavioural consequence of environmental damage to two key systems – the Information Processing System of the brain and the Central Nervous System.
From the writings of van der Kolk, Schore, Saporta and others, I moved to study the works of Daniel J. Siegel, who was busy applying their pioneering work to the field of psychotherapy, especially therapy for survivors of trauma and abuse. It was Siegel’s book The Developing Mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are (2nd Ed. 2012) that fully elaborated the concept of the two key systems damage that gives rise to PTSD.
This opening of awareness took me on a 22-year journey, during which time I witnessed the field of neuroscience, neuropsychology and neurobiology enter mainstream mental health research. As part of the Arts Therapy community, my presentations, lectures and workshops have been part of this process of public education.
By nature, I am an artist, and a scientist. Historically, this duality is not unusual, but is nevertheless an interesting combination. It requires being able to live (comfortably if possible) with two antithetical realities – the numinous, and the concrete. The artistic/creative requires being able to exist in the grey area where nothing is certain. The scientific self is fascinated by the observable, quantifiable universe. Fortunately, these two sides aren’t contradictory, because the observable universe is totally wondrous and still only slightly understood. Its discovery is such a creative project.
Please feel free to communicate with me via the Contact Form below. I will be happy to reply.