Five Keys to Beating Trauma Webinar
This webinar looks at five important aspects to consider regarding trauma. Ted Witzig Jr. discusses components of trauma and ways to receive help yourself as well as support others as they walk through this journey. Watch this webinar to learn more of the help and hope that is available for those who have experienced traumatic events in their lives.
For Further Information:
Additional information through articles and podcasts on trauma.
Additional information through articles and podcasts on suffering.
Helping Someone with PTSD
This article by HelpGuide, can help people learn ways to support others who have experienced trauma.
National Center on PTSD
Learn more by watching brief videos describing types of trauma treatment from the National Center on PTSD.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Author: Bessel van der Kolk
To develop a solid understanding of how trauma impacts the whole person and to understand how it can be effectively treated.
So thank you. And welcome. Today the topic at hand is five keys to beating trauma and thankful to have Ted Witzig Jr. with us, who is, a licensed counselor in this area. And, we’ll have a lot to share as we walk through this important topic. Colleague Matt Kaufman is also in the background and he’ll be monitoring if you have any questions that you can chat them in. So let’s go ahead and get into the topic. Ted, why don’t you just real briefly, give a little bit of your credentials in this area, and then also just why is this an important topic for us to consider on this afternoon here?
Sure. Thanks, Arlan. As Arlan mentioned, I am a counselor and one of the things that we oftentimes see in the counseling room is the impact of painful life events. All of us have had painful life events, painful memories, for some of those, they reach the level of being traumatic.
Oftentimes the word traumatic is used pretty broadly, like, oh, no, you know, I forgot my folder at home, says the seventh grader, you know, that was traumatic and that’s not what we mean by traumatic. We’re talking about something that really shocks and overwhelms the system oftentimes overwhelming somebody’s ability to cope.
So, but with it, one of the things that we find is many times people do not realize the impact of lingering trauma in their lives, or they may feel like there’s no hope in terms of getting treatment for it. And so, we view understanding and overcoming trauma as really an important step in helping people to thrive.
Really appreciate that. So what I heard, Ted, is that there is this awareness piece we wanna bring here of just what is trauma and how can it impact a life, but even perhaps more importantly, the reality that there is hope and help available for trauma. And I can imagine there’s two audiences here, perhaps listening in. Some may be listening in, have actually gone through a traumatic experience themselves, and they’re experiencing this firsthand.
And perhaps there’s another set of audiences here that are walking with someone who has gone through it or could then see that situation where they might be helping someone else through this. So, we’ll kind of walk through this content and think about those two lenses as we do so. Ted, you kind of laid out five different keys here. So why don’t we just briefly do an overview here of these five keys and then we’ll step through ’em one by one and aspects of them. All right. So the five keys we’re gonna talk through today is first is to understand and learn about trauma. That’s a key thing and understanding what we’re up against and how to overcome it.
Number two is seeking evidence based treatment. For many years, people didn’t know what to do or how to overcome trauma. And there’s a lot of good information today that we have access to. We wanna talk about that. The third section is to understand that trauma impacts our physical body, our mind and emotions, our spiritual selves, and our social relationships and understanding both how all those are impacted, but also how each of those areas is used in the healing.
Number four is the importance of either getting support or giving support. We know that our adversary, Satan, loves to isolate people in whatever way that he can. He loves isolation and shame. And, those experiencing trauma or having, or in the process of recovery need healthy relationships to help in that overcoming.
And then lastly, number five, there is what I, a phrase that I oftentimes use. It’s moving from the millstones to stepping stones and it is about redeeming the circumstances in our life. Traumatic circumstances are rarely ever good, in and of themselves. And I’m not trying to convince people that those circumstances were good.
But I think it’s very important to think about that God can take and help us redeem the circumstances of our lives to turn them into something that they are not in and of themselves. I really appreciate that. It really speaks to one of the mission that we have here at a ACCFS part of it is helping the hurting, but also part of it is nurturing hope.
And so I think what I hear you say is that there is hope, and we wanna speak to that hope today. So let’s start then with learning about trauma. Why don’t you speak into that, Ted? What should we know at a kind of a high level about. So, first of all, when we talk about trauma we’re oftentimes talking about these events or traumatic events that have occurred.
There are many different kinds of traumatic events, but I broke ’em into some natural categories. These don’t cover them all, but they’re very common ones. So first is accidents. They might be vehicle accidents, workplace, farm accidents, and they’re things where oftentimes somebody is injured, died or thought that they were going to die. Another one, and this is where most people think of trauma as in where there’s been either a violent crime, terrorism, or combat. Those are the things that people sometimes are like, you know, a soldier that’s in a war zone that watches their buddy get blown up in front of him. They have trauma, we get that or somebody that’s a victim of terrorism or a violent crime at gunpoint or something like that. We go, oh, that’s trauma. Sometimes when people experience, trauma because of a car accident, they’re like, you know, we say, Hey, you know what? I think you’ve got post-traumatic stress disorder, but I wasn’t, you know, I wasn’t in Afghanistan, you know, and you don’t have to be in Afghanistan in order to experience trauma.
Another one is natural disasters. The effects of tornadoes, the effects of hurricanes, even fires and things of that nature can be the source of trauma. Serious medical events that can be threatening, illnesses, such as having a heart attack or stroke, painful procedures or, a series of painful procedures.
I also wanted to add here, this can also be for the people that are having those happen, but it can also be for their family members who are watching this happen, who are at the scene of that heart attack or even the caregivers. If you think right now, we’re a time of COVID 19. And sometimes we’ve had, seen images of hospitals that are overrun by you know, people coming in and staff is having to deal with repetitive deaths and dying.
And so that can be a source of trauma. And then lastly, an area of abuse, can be physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, domestic violence. I also wanna say too, oftentimes when we’re thinking about abuse, we’re thinking about invasive abuse where somebody is hurt but a different kind of abuse can lead to traumatic reaction.
That is neglect. That is the absence of care and the absence of just basic care and nurturance, food, et cetera. So with this, there are many things we didn’t, I mean, didn’t go into all the different ones, but the thing to remember is when somebody experiences one of these, not everybody that experiences a traumatic event goes on to develop full blown post traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD is a disorder that we treat. Some people develop that in its full blown sense and we diagnose that. Other people don’t and there are various reasons for that. But so I just want you to think of this as a spectrum, that people can experience a trauma. It can be mild, moderate, or severe, and some people end up with a diagnosable disorder.
Some people end up with just some of the different thoughts and feelings of it, but whatever those thoughts and feelings are, the reaction that somebody has to trauma afterwards, oftentimes it’s some kind of fear or anxiety. Those reactions are normal responses to abnormal events. Okay. And so I think of it, we had Central Illinois had a tornado go through a number of years ago and and it impacted a number of our church congregations in this area. And people saw that and felt that very, very directly. Well, people that felt that directly had their homes destroyed, had fears of loss of life. When the tornado siren goes off today, they take that a lot more seriously than somebody who’s never had that experience.
They, their body and mind starts to have that. Oh no. What if this is happening again? Yeah. Okay. So there could be, I was gonna say, so there could be an awareness piece there, correct, Ted, where suddenly you can have this. I mean, why do I get so nervous when the tornado siren goes off? Right.
It can help people kind of troubleshoot back. Not all the time. You can probably over analyze that, but you can also sometimes help troubleshoot back and say, oh yeah, this is an aspect that I might be experiencing. What are some of those symptoms that are gonna be those triggers there?
Yes. So in the range of symptoms, after somebody’s had an exposure to the serious event, or either they’ve had the actual exposure or somebody that they love has had that kind of thing or something that reminds them of that thing ends up being kind of the trigger we call it.
So then, after there’s been some kind of re-triggering there’s oftentimes just this re-experiencing that people have. Sometimes that is through dreams and nightmares and things like that. Sometimes it is through just the physical sensations of anxiety that somebody might have when they are in a certain circumstance or something that reminds them of that circumstance.
So for example, somebody that they experienced domestic violence or physical abuse by a dominant authority figure, you know, they could be in another place and somebody who is an authority figure, might do something and they might cower or something and have something some kind of reminder, even though it wasn’t the same situation, but it triggers that memory. Another thing is some people experience full blown flashbacks and a flashback is re-experiencing the trauma feeling like that it’s happening again. And so I think the classic example of this is the person that was in Vietnam who’s now back in the US, you know, decades later working on a job site and some a board slaps down on the pavement and they hear that it sounds like a gunshot and so they hit the deck and they yell, hit the deck, hit the deck incoming, and it’s like, their coworkers are like, hey, it was a board, you know. So one of the things that happens with that is the alterations in mood and reactivity.
It’s very common then for people to develop some reactivity in the sense of they’re hyper vigilant. They might be looking around, maybe worried that something bad might happen. They might have an exaggerated startle response, meaning that while something, a small trigger, a small noise might happen, and they have a big response, they might feel depressed or anxious and have difficulty sleeping, for example, or irritable.
And then lastly, the persistent avoidance of stimuli, the fact is if going to a certain place reminds you of something, the last thing you might wanna do is to go to that place again or to be reminded of those things. So sometimes it’s a reminder of memories. Sometimes it’s a reminder of circumstances smells, et cetera. Sure, I appreciate that layout of those different, perhaps, symptoms that you might experience there. The second page we have there on this topic speaks to that a little bit more. Just a few more thoughts around that. And I wanna zero in there, Ted, if we can on number two. Time doesn’t heal all.
Because I can imagine there can be this thought that, well, yes, that was hard. That was difficult. That was traumatic. But over time it will just kind of, it should just fade away and perhaps, you know, why am I not strong enough to make it fade away? Right? You can be this, all these emotions going on there.
Speak to that just a little bit. And what someone should consider in that area. It’s important to remember that memory is different than traumatic memory. Traumatic memory is processed by the brain differently. It’s stored differently by the brain. Most of the time when you and I go through the events of our day, we then by the time we go to sleep at night, our brain files and sorts that information and moves the information for the day from short term memory to long term memory.
Or it prunes it. It says that that information wasn’t necessary and it goes away. Traumatic memory actually is stored in a way because it doesn’t have a box to go to. Again, a young child has, if you will, a box, a God given box to be nurtured, to be loved, and cared for. A child does not have a box for beatings or sexual abuse or neglect.
And so the brain doesn’t have a good place to store that. And if you think about what the role of therapy is, what we’re doing with people it’s to help them to move memories that are, that are not stored in where we want them to be. And we actually have to help them create and move things from, unstored memories to better stored memories.
These things are, there are phrases, that as counselors that we oftentimes hear, that, you know, like sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Yeah. Hogwash. Okay. I mean, I wish that was true. Another one is, you know, just give it time, you know, or with time I will do better.
And again, time can give perspective, but time doesn’t necessarily heal traumatic memory. It’s very common then, what people do is they, because it’s painful when it comes back. They try to suppress it. They don’t want to feel it. They want to keep it down. In fact, what most people wish they could do with traumatic memory is not think of it again.
Okay. The last thing that somebody who’s had medical trauma, who was transported with the sirens and the lights and things like that, the last thing they want to hear is more sirens and see more lights. Sure. Okay. Sure. And I will say, I wanna jump back up to the number one real quickly is that retriggering when something happens that triggers that memory can oftentimes takes us into a body that goes into fight, flight, or freeze. Fight is just that it’s the part that goes against the fearful thing. Flight is, let me run, it’s get me out of here. And then freeze is when somebody is just literally they freeze, they’re not sure what to do and they’re overwhelmed.
So that’s why we say that learning about trauma and how to respond to it is oftentimes more than half the battle, because I’ll talk to somebody who is present at the scene of a crime or present when they saw something happen, somebody was injured in an accident and they go, but Ted, I couldn’t move and I should have, yeah, I should have done X or I should have done a Y I should have done Y or I.
And the fact is in the midst of a traumatic experience as it’s happening, yeah, some people are gonna go to flight. Some are gonna go to fight and some are gonna freeze and it’s not because they’re bad people. It’s just because of what goes on in their bodies. I will just mention, as we shift from this topic to the next is that you can go on the ACCFS website and search for trauma or trauma and PTSD, and you can find other articles, resources, and recommended resources.
We’re gonna talk through some additional ones, but, would encourage people to do that. Yeah. I appreciate you bringing that up, Ted. And just as a point of order and in the article, the web article where this webinar will be housed, all the resources that we reference will be linked off of that as well.
So if you wanna learn more, which is half the battle, that’d be a simple way to do it, right? Yep. So, let’s go on then to number two, or go ahead, Ted. I was just gonna say we have some information about childhood or adolescent trauma, as opposed to adults who’ve experienced trauma or some things related to different kinds of trauma there.
So, okay. So number two is seeking treatment. Is just realizing there’s treatment available, correct? That’s the next step. And this is so important because trauma and traumatic events has existed throughout history. Even when you read the Bible and you, there’s some stories in the Bible and you go, oh, my word, that really happened that, you know, and you say, wow, that’s the, sometimes you go, that’s disgusting.
You know, there was lots and lots of hand to hand combat in these things. History has been experienced throughout all of human history. Okay, remember one of the first sibling rivalries ended up in a murder. Okay. So there’s been a lot of, but the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is a relatively new diagnosis.
It was first put into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980. Now that’s 40 years ago. So I can say about, well, that’s a long time ago now, but not in all of human history. The diagnosis has only been recognized in the last 40 years in the thousands of years of human history, 40 years.
So one of the things that happens is there are most people in the world that experience trauma don’t get the treatment that we would wish that they would be able to get. Okay. There’s several reasons for that. One part of it is that many people just don’t have access to that care. Okay.
Secondly, the thing that happens is many times people who have experienced trauma believe that there’s no use seeking healing because healing will not come. And one of the things that happens, what we need to understand is, trauma does change us. Trauma does change life. If there has been a traumatic event and somebody dies in it or there’s, you know, somebody’s, relationships are broken because of it.
There’s no question, life has changed. The question is can life be worth living past trauma? Yeah. And the answer to that is absolutely. But the question of is life different after trauma and the answer is yes, life is different. So the way that I would encourage people to think about is that our goal is to help people move through some different stages.
The victim to survivor to overcomer, or sometimes it’s called victim to survivor to thriver. And I wanna just describe those real quickly. Sure. The victim phase is when somebody has been more recently overwhelmed by the trauma and sometimes people say, oh, so, and so is just playing a victim.
I’m not using it this way here, when somebody’s experienced an assault or a rape or something like that, they are a victim. And at the victim stage, they feel very much defined by the traumatic event. What has happened to them and coping with that is really all that they can do or trying to numb what happened to them.
So the victim stage they’re defined by the trauma. The survivor phase is when somebody has come past that and they are actively seeking to overcome and actively seeking to not be defined by it. But what you see is even though they’re in a better place, they have survived it, they’re oftentimes still in a place where the traumatic events still very much is a part of their existence and overcoming and still dealing with a lot of grief and things of that nature. The overcomer phase doesn’t mean that somebody has gotten to a place where they’re not affected, but what it means is that they’ve come to a point where they are not as defined by the trauma itself, but by who they are in Christ and how they can move on going past the trauma. There is meaning making, it doesn’t mean that the trauma itself was good, but it just means that this person sees value in life, in service to others, in God. And that they can go on having a full and abundant life.
This is a process, this isn’t a week, this is a process. And, it is possible for somebody to be stuck in the victim phase or the survivor phase for you know, ongoing. So, you know, that’s really helpful, Ted, cuz it helps kinda lay out what are reasonable expectations or what should I want what success, if you wanna use that word?
What does success look like as we think about trauma treatment and it allows us to really view it properly. Now the next slide here will just lay out several different treatments that you will maybe hear about, or that kind of thing. Maybe speak briefly to that. And then we can move on to the next phase.
So in terms of the effective treatments, there are many different kinds of treatments. There are three treatments that kind of sit at the top of the heap in terms of the research that goes on in PTSD and trauma. And, I’m just gonna mention them quickly and the kind of the hallmarks of how they work.
So cognitive processing therapy is really targeting traumatic beliefs. And so after somebody’s experienced a trauma, they may have beliefs like I can’t trust anymore, or I’m no longer safe, or I am used goods and there’s no use trying to feel lovable anymore. So cognitive processing therapy really targets the trauma survivors thinking. Prolonged exposure is the next kind of treatment.
And prolonged exposure is really about helping people deal with avoidance and it’s helping people to move past avoidance and actually to kind of confront the things that they would naturally try to numb out. And so, for example, here’s an example, somebody who let’s say was in a car accident who does not want to get back in a car or who does not want to drive. In prolonged exposure, we would work on actually helping them to get back in that car. And for a little while they might have panic attacks. Every time they open a car door, okay. And we have to help them move onto that. Or dealing with certain sounds or certain memories.
And so there are techniques related to prolonged exposure. Oftentimes, both the cognitive belief change and the exposure treatment are used together. The last one there called eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing, shortened as EMDR, involves people revisiting their memories and also then having bilateral brain stimulation at the same time. The first type used was eye movements.
It’s no longer viewed that eye movements are the only things you can do. It could be done with other bilateral brain stimulation. But what has been found is that helps in terms of focusing on traumatic memory and having bilateral brain stimulation is that it tends to help to dim the memories and helps them to seem more distant so that new information and healing information can come in.
There is information I’ll just mention the resource at the bottom that goes to videos that explain each of those and other treatments in easy to view videos. I do wanna mention too, just number six there, is that medications can be used to lower symptoms or reactivities or nightmares.
Oftentimes people experience panic, depression, things like that. And so sometimes depression ensues and medications are used. There are also medications that are used for people that have a lot of nightmaring. Nightmaring is very common with people who’ve experienced trauma. And one of the problems is that once somebody starts the nightmare and then they don’t sleep. Sometimes people fear going to sleep. Well, you know what happens after you don’t sleep for a while, you become more and more anxious and depressed and your thoughts get more extreme. So just kind of helping with the symptoms level, some of the physical symptoms level to get to a point where, where you can focus, that’s right, receive some of the help that’s needed. It makes a lot of sense. Let’s go on to the next one then cuz now we’ve talked a little bit about learning and those kind of aspects and the realization that we need to seek help, cuz it is available. There’s hope there. Now we’re starting to frame up a little bit about how to think about this and this body, mind spirit, social.
That’s the four aspects of the components of an individual that lots of times are focused on. It affects all of them. Right, I mean, it’s gonna affect us in so many widespread ways. Speak to that. And just kind of some of the ways or examples that you might see treatment a little bit varied based upon this multi-prong approach if I can put it that way. That is correct. It’s important that you think of it as a multi-pronged approach because trauma impacts all these areas. We use this model of body, mind, spirit, social, in a lot of different things just because it looks at the whole person, but trauma definitely impacts all of those.
And so, in that it is important to understand that trauma affects somebody’s physical body, somebody doesn’t ask to experience retriggering, their body retriggers. Okay. And so it’s important to understand that the hyper vigilance, the jumpiness, some of the irritability, sleep difficulties are about the body learning that it can be calm and safe.
There are times that people are sitting ,on my couch there and their body is in full alarm fight or flight is going on and I’ll have them stop for a second. I’ll say, let’s look around the room and as look, is there any external danger going on? They look around, they don’t see external danger, but inside their body is experiencing a full fight or flight as if there was external danger.
And so we use skills and tools to help that to quiet and so quieting the mind and quieting the body are really, really helpful. And on the mind end, we’re trying to help people make sure that they are practicing truth. Okay. Over and over truthful thinking, we’ve put together resources on understanding lies versus truth.
We’ve put together resources, on things such as, understanding cognitive distortions, where our mind wants to just grab onto all the danger. Another one is the mind oftentimes grabs onto belief such as no one can be trusted. Well, you can see why this then gets in the way is because then it keeps him away from healthy relationships.
One of the traumas I experienced in my own life was my senior year in high school. A friend of mine took his own life and I had survivor’s guilt. I struggled with that for a long time and it was a mental block that I had to work with and get around because I held myself responsible, not only for person’s life, but that I spiritually wasn’t good enough as a Christian because I didn’t save him.
The other one’s about not deserving to be happy or those kind of things. We’re gonna talk more in the next two sections on the social and the spiritual, so I’m not gonna cover them as much here, but just to understand that body, mind, spirit, social, they’re all gonna be impacted differently depending on the kind of trauma, but they’re all gonna be impacted.
And I just mentioned the book here called The Body Keeps the Score because it just kind of goes through kind of a history of understanding trauma and just the ways that trauma is processed by human beings and some ways to kind of walk through that. Sure, sure. So, Ted, what I heard you say right, is it’s multi-pronged, right.
And it’s not either or, it’s a both and, and we laid out on these slides, couples the bodies part about helping the body learn how to calm and settle in traumatic retriggering type events. And then the mind part of helping identify. Where perhaps there is a cognitive distortion or a false thinking that can really get in the way of healing.
Now, like you said, let’s go into the last two keys, which happened. The fourth one’s gonna focus on the social or the support side. And then the last one was focused more on the spiritual. And I think it’s important. I’ll just make this comment as we switch slides. I think it’s important because sometimes if, tell me if I’m wrong here, but I feel like often we can oversimplify our approach towards trauma.
And what we’re really saying here is let’s widen the lens a little bit and let’s consider all the facets here. Absolutely. I’ll tell you, because I believe that it’s important to keep all these different things in perspective. So, because the person’s experience is gonna be different, but your own experience yourself is gonna really change how you view this.
Okay. If you’ve had something in your life that you’ve had decades of trying to get over, you’re gonna be much more patient with somebody who’s struggling with somebody and their, they experienced trauma six weeks ago. If you’ve never experienced something like this, going, come on, you know, it’s been six weeks.
Yeah. Let’s move along here, you know, can come up there. So, that’s a good discipline for the helper, just to realize every experience is multi faceted. But go ahead. I interrupted you as we talk about adequate support. So with this, with the support is first to understand that trauma is greatly impacted.
And how somebody experiences it based on whether they experienced it alone or in a community. Okay. And so some events, impact entire communities. So when the tornado went through Washington, Illinois, the whole community was impacted. Everybody experienced it together. People experienced different degrees of it, but everybody, A) knew it happened,
b) worked together to overcome it, and C) recognized that people experienced the trauma. When somebody has had a private trauma that has been, let’s say somebody experiences a sexual assault at college, or somebody was molested as a child, for example. And that was unspoken about, and no one knew that for decades or someone knew it, but then it was denied.
Those kind of things. The fact is the victims are gonna carry that very differently. And the ability to say, Hey, I’m struggling, you know, for somebody to be able to say, Hey, I’m struggling. You know, we just had this event, which a very, very public event versus somebody who’s struggling, but it’s private.
And they have, they feel like they can’t share it. It’s a huge difference. So the emotion of shame. Okay. And feeling emotionally overwhelmed are common in trauma. By the way, it is very common to experience shame with trauma. Even if it’s not your fault. So, I’m just gonna use the example and people feel differently about these things, but let’s say somebody who experienced a miscarriage, somebody had experienced it and say it wasn’t, it happened, but it wasn’t a huge issue to them.
Somebody else experiences it and it’s life shattering for them. It’s very different from them. It’s not their fault. Okay. Right. It just wasn’t it had happened. But for one person, they take it on as a very big private shame. I was flawed, what was wrong with me. Somebody else looks at it and goes, that was painful.
Or that was sad that happened, but it, they don’t take it personally. And so it, these kind of things greatly change how we process the trauma, but also what we do with it. And in terms of seeking help. Satan loves trauma because he loves to use isolation and shame. Yeah, and I really appreciate that last point just to belabor that a second is it helps us identify a tactic.
That’s gonna be common, by the enemy towards a person seeking healing is there’s gonna be a push towards isolation, a push towards shame, and those are not healthy. That’s right, at any point. Well, I wanna bring up another thing here. Think about something like post abortion trauma. Okay.
Where somebody can say, no, let’s say somebody had an abortion and afterwards they’re feeling guilty about this. And then they’re saying, but I did it, it was me. I chose this. And so, what happens is sometimes the whole thing of fault gets in there. And again, what we wanna say is, as gospel centered, Christian believers, we wanna say there is hope.
There is healing. There is forgiveness and there is life. Okay, so, but different things again, Satan loves to use that shame in isolation, that to say you are beyond grace, you are beyond help. Yeah. So strong support helps people recover more quickly and completely, again, people are gonna vary based on how open they are.
With whom they share those kind of things. And, so you have to be sensitive to that obviously. And some things are gonna be more private than others. But I would just say that research wise, you can really say it this way, that having an adequate support system is just almost, what I mean by adequate is not just people around, but people that you feel like you can trust and that there’s a supportive interaction.
Whether you know, that is something that we know is a very healing, resource, because part of it too, is it’s giving somebody a place to be able to vent or share their questions. Sure. Sometimes we’re going, we don’t know why these things are heard. Sometimes it’s a loss that doesn’t make sense to us.
It just doesn’t make sense. God, why? And, to have the body of Christ there to hold those questions, okay, to be that holding place. It isn’t always having the answer as much as it is to be there, the holding place. We have a resource here called, Helping Someone with PTSD.
There’s a number of other resources that you can go to, but they’re just about how to come alongside. And, those are often very helpful. But I would say it this way too, that it’s nobody’s job to fix it. Okay. And as helpers that’s, one of the things that we have to give up is I am gonna be the solution to this.
I, Ted Wittig, as a therapist, as a trauma focused Christian therapist, I’m not the solution. I’m one part of God’s solution. I’m a vessel. You can be a vessel too. Sure. And that’s very helpful. And so if you find yourself, like we said before, that lens of helping someone alongside it realize the very valuable role that you play, it’s an essential role towards healing, and then learn more about it through this resource and others on what are proper ways or what does good helping look like?
I think we maybe we’ll get to that a little bit more at the end, but let’s go into number five, which looks at the spiritual side and this millstone to stepping stone concept. Kind of break that down for us, Ted. Is that how Satan uses this? Yes. And, and I’m going off of here of that Scripture that actually talks about, you know, whoever offends, one of those little ones is better that a millstone was about them drowning the depths to sea. The issue is this, that Satan loves to use trauma because he loves to saddle people with this kind of thing. He loves to saddle people with our sin. He loves people to saddle people with trauma and unfilled wounds. If you think about it, a healthy way to view life is that we have a past, okay. That we could recognize that there is a past, we have a present and we have a future.
Okay. And, that we can see this progression a past and a present of the future. The problem then what Satan is trying to promote is he wants to bind us to our past, through our sin, if it’s sin, or through trauma. He wants us to be shackled by the past whatever way. Okay. And I’m not starting to say by the way that trauma is automatically sin, I’m just trying to say that somebody that he wants to shackle us with the past, what he wants to do is shackles with the past.
So it interferes with our present and it steals our future. Okay. He doesn’t want us to be able to see that there is a future. So trauma can crush an individual’s spirit and harm their relationship with God. There is a very common saying, and it’s oftentimes true, probably two thirds or three quarters of the time.
It’s true. I don’t know. That’s a ballpark. We’ll say that going through hard times helps us grow spiritually over time. Okay. It’s those hard times that we grow the most and things like that. I just wanna say there that is while as true as that is, and I’ve experienced that in our life.
I know, Arlan, you’ve experienced that hard times matured us and grown us, we met God in those places in powerful ways. It is also important to understand that not all hard times lead to redeemed futures. Okay. Sometimes these are really stuck. Okay. There is really stuck pain. There is wounding in somebody’s relationship with God where they don’t trust God or they felt abandoned by God.
And then it doesn’t come back around to a more healed or more attached relationship with God. The reason that I bring this up is that if we assume, incorrectly that A) time heals all wounds, okay. Number one. Right? So, that trauma that happened to so and so, that was a year ago.
That was two years ago. And in B), we assume that hard times eventually equal closer relationships with God. Okay. You can see what happens, where yeah. Where unhealed wounds, and shame and isolation can all of a sudden be part of the underground way that Satan’s really getting at somebody.
Sure, sure. Now it is very common, right after a traumatic event, particularly right after, now, it can be ongoing, but right after when something traumatic happens, it is so natural to ask why? Okay. You know when some of these bad things happen in life, they’re really bad and we cry out and I do wanna say, I do think that that’s one of the places that we can go to lament with God and say, God, what, why is it that I’m trying to do what’s right but this bad thing happened. And, so lament is a practice that can be used there, but I wanna say that Satan’s goal is to be able to take the concept of living an abundant life in Christ and wants to suff that out. Okay, sure. It wants to say life will not have joy.
It will not have meaning and he opposes efforts to heal. And, so I do believe that’s why prayer is so important and why the body of believers surrounding somebody is so important. Sure, sure. So as you, as you think about that, and we go on to the next slide here. What does helping others look like then in this context?
Yeah. So, one is, if you were the helper in this person’s life, again, if you are depends on how close you are to somebody, if you know, somebody’s gone through a trauma, but it’s, but you’re more distant to them. Some things like those cards, or practical helps for the person that lost their house or whatever.
Those are the things to do. Prayer, I think is so, so important and to not underestimate that. One of the things we want to do though, is we don’t want to simply gloss over the impact of trauma. Okay. You know, so for example, let’s say that somebody did have the experience of, they had a child that was still born, okay.
Or had experienced infant death. Okay. And, or a miscarriage. And then, you know, they had another child. Okay. Well, at least you had another child. Well, that’s great. They had another child, right? They did. That’s good. We’re glad for that. It doesn’t erase this. Okay. It doesn’t erase it. Somebody has a house fire, okay, and their house is destroyed and they escaped with their very lives, but nothing else. Hey, well, at least you got insurance. Well, if they had insurance well, great. I’m glad they had insurance. I’m glad they got a house. It does not mean they didn’t have a traumatic experience.
So we don’t wanna simply gloss over. Okay. I think one of the other things we wanna do is we want to help people to see that healing takes time and some wrestling. But that while we don’t see it today, that there could be a future and a hope. I oftentimes tell people, I tell people regularly that are sitting in my office and they’re like, I don’t think I’m ever gonna get past this or whatever this is.
Whether it’s the addiction, whether it’s the trauma, whether it’s depression, they’re just like, I’m stuck here forever. And, I’ll look at ’em and I’ll say, you know what, we’re gonna walk through this together. And I could, I can see a path that they can’t see. Okay. And, I’m no magician, and I can’t, you know, snap my fingers and make it better.
But there are some predictable phases people go through. And, the fact is right after a trauma when somebody’s discombobulated and so wounded and hurt and confused, it’s not gonna feel like God is very close to some of them. Yeah. Now some people will go through and they’ll feel like God has never been closer.
And so you’ll have two people experience the trauma and one person will say, oh, isn’t God so good? And he’s so close and the next person will go, I don’t know how they’re able to feel that, but I sure don’t. Yeah. And so I would just say that being able to hold people’s questions and doubts is such an important skill for the body of Christ.
It doesn’t mean that you have to have an answer, especially immediately, you know, but just being able to hear people, to love them. If you’re that person in their life that they’re seeking to help walk through, that’s great. Great and fine. But, we don’t wanna actually slip into believing we’re God’s spokesman or attorney.
So why was it that God allowed this to happen? Yeah. You gotta be just really careful with that. And the other concept I’m hearing from you too, Ted, is that lots of times is, you know, sometimes we usually the idea of marathon versus sprint, right? That sometimes things are more quickly, you move on and you’re, maybe you’re working with someone or helping someone for a short period of time.
But we’re talking often more of a marathon type mentality. This is gonna take time. Yeah. And it’s gonna be a lot of messiness and it’s gonna be questions without answers, and we’re not necessarily expected to fix things, but we are expected to listen and encourage and hold them up as we kind of walk alongside. That’s right.
That’s excellent. The resource you have there is this idea of suffering, right? There’s some resources on our website on the concept of suffering. So if you go to the search feature of our website and search suffering, some different things will pop up. So you as a helper need to be a learner, right.
Alongside as well, too. Yep. Having a healthy view of suffering is very important for the Christian life. And I think that’s one of the things that you don’t think about a lot of times as we do here at ACCFS where, you know, Matt and you and I, we think of these things, Arlan. When we think about what is healthy suffering. Oftentimes people don’t think of healthy suffering as a really important mindset to have about the Christian life and Christian walk because this life is hard.
And, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t good. God is good even when life is hard, but some of the times, you’re having to carry me. You’re having to lift me up through that time when I can’t see that. And I’ll be there to help you when you’re in that time and you can’t see that. Yeah, really appreciate that, Ted.
We have about 10 minutes left. I just wanna be mindful of the time. I’d like to give some opportunity if there are questions out there. But, first I wanna turn to you, Matt, if you have any questions or thoughts that have kind of come to you as you’ve been listening along here through this good content here.
And, if the rest of you, if you could have questions, you could be thinking about what you’d like to ask. So Matt, anything to share or ask. You know, thanks Ted and Arlan. Some of the questions that had come in really revolve around the how to, you know, what are ways to deal with PTSD or how do I help a loved one who has been raped or how do I overcome certain effects?
How do I overcome childhood traumas? So I want to key in, Ted, on this concept of no box to process it in. To me that was really helpful that I have a box to process, to process a loving father. For example, you know, we process that experience. I don’t have a box to process an abusive one.
And so that haunts me until it finds its home in process. So I would love to hear, what activities, what processes, what does it look like to construct a box to process these traumatic things? So I would say there’s two angles to what we wanna do there. And, one of the things that we want to think about is that we’re trying to drain the pain out of something while we’re also trying to lift up the growth and healing.
It’s not one or the other. It’s a both and, okay. And so I do believe that part of the box, part of the creating a construction of a new way to live, it’s gonna depend on the person’s experience. So for example, if somebody grew up in a highly dysfunctional home and they experienced many different types of trauma over the course of 15 years, Okay.
They may develop something, that is, they don’t even remember the one time that they experienced trauma. It’s been dozens upon dozens upon dozens of times. Okay. And it’s in the fabric of their life versus somebody who’s gone about, experienced their life. And then, you know, as his had helped reasonably healthy family and then experiences, you know, being at the wrong place in the wrong time and is at the bank when there’s the robbery.
Okay. You know, so those are very different trajectories. Understanding that, helps us to understand how much I need to focus right on processing the painful memories first, or how much I need to focus on helping to build some structures, to be able to receive love and nurturance. The more somebody is isolated, the more somebody doesn’t have the abilities to even calm themselves, or to be able to reach out to support people. That’s where we’re gonna start. We’re gonna start by being able to have a safe place and a safe space to be able to have thoughts and feelings, to be able to calm their body, to have a support network, to be able to have even the things to help them remember to anchor them to God’s truth.
We’re gonna start there. Other people that’s already built. They need help just dealing with the pain. And so that’s gonna depend, I am gonna say also that the time since the traumatic event occurred also plays into this. Okay. If the trauma happened yesterday, Okay. If you look at a graph and somebody, if a hundred people experienced a trauma yesterday and they were in the same building, let’s say there’s a shooting at a school.
And a hundred kids saw that same shooting at a school. Within the 24 hours after that shooting, almost all of them have some kind of trauma response going. Okay. They’re all feeling hyper, you know, alert and all those things. The community is feeling that. What happens though, over the next two weeks, you’re gonna see that hyper vigilance and those kind of things come down and you’re gonna see it gradually slope out.
So that 30 days later, a month later, you’re gonna see that be much lower. It’s not necessarily all the way gone, but it’s gonna be coming down. And then you’re gonna say six months later, where is that for people? And then six years later. See, so depending on where somebody is, we’re gonna focus in on different things.
If somebody’s coming right off of a fresh trauma, we are trying to help them settle their mind and their body, get them to sleep well, et cetera, et cetera. We’re trying to deal with practical needs in the here and now reestablishing patterns and routines. Somebody for who is dealing with something that was, they’re an adult now, processing childhood trauma that happened 25 years ago. For example, that has another life in, you know, today living out, maybe raising kids, et cetera. Their biggest challenge oftentimes is finding the space between living the life that they’re in today, raising kids, getting ’em to school, you know, all the, you know, getting to church, you’re getting supper, ready, all those things while dealing with such a highly emotional event from their past.
Okay. Sure. That everything in them on one hand wants to keep down. And then the other part of them is like, I need to deal with this. And so we’ll deal with that a little bit differently. I would say it’s why so much I would encourage people to, at some point in their trauma, and again, I’m not assigned to say that therapists are the key to all things here, but I would say that it’s why when somebody’s experienced particularly heavy trauma and it’s following them for a long time to be able to map that out with somebody that treats trauma so that they can understand what they’re dealing with.
So that can create a roadmap for recovery and that they can, we can work on figuring out where are we, you know, victim, survivor, thriver, and let’s focus in at this stage on the tools around those particular things, because we would just use different tools at the victim stage than we will at the thriver or overcomer stage.
And I would love to go into that more and more, but that’s really a question that comes down to an individual’s walk, but we’re glad to talk to people about that. Thanks. We really appreciate that question, Matt. Anybody else have a question that they’d like to share? We have just a few minutes left.
Otherwise, maybe I’ll just wrap us up this way in this, these last couple minutes. Arlan, can I ask one last question a minute and a half? You sure can. Ted, talk a little bit about maintenance. Suppose somebody does process it? Well, they thought they processed it, I mean, they were doing good for a decade.
Yes. If they relapsed, does that mean they didn’t do it right? A decade ago? Oh, that’s a great question. I’m so glad you asked that. So one of the things is I would love it, you would love it if we would never be impacted by things from our history. Okay. Some people Christianize that. Okay.
And I, they would say it this way, you know? Well if I’ve thoroughly, you know, dealt with something in my life, I’ll never be tempted by it, or I’ll never have a memory of it or whatever. And that’s just not how the human brain operates. And so it is possible that somebody does really good work, has processed it and has done really well, but then something causes it to reemerge.
It could be something in the news. It could be something that has happened to a family member or a friend. It so happened, for example, that let’s say somebody experienced some trauma as a child. They worked through that. 15 years later, 20 years later, their own child experiences something not even necessarily the same thing, but it may cause some of that stuff to reemerge.
And so what we would encourage is to know when booster sessions are necessary. Okay. Booster sessions, or sometimes restarting therapy for a period of time. It’s not a failure. It’s about knowing how to care for yourself well, and I would really encourage people to not put themselves in the box of either, going I have fully healed, I’ll never deal with this again, or I had a memory of this or this thing re-inflamed that memory and therefore, I didn’t do any good work back then. And it’s, you know, I have to start over at square zero. In the moment, it’ll feel like square zero once. If you’ve not had a trigger for six months or six years, and all of a sudden you have something that jumps up, it feels like it’s all back.
But, I think that’s helpful, Ted, to say that the overcoming stage does not mean necessarily, a forgotten issue or event in one’s life. But overcoming means that they walk in a way with that reality in a healthy way. That’s what we’re getting at. Sure. That’s correct. That’s correct. Well, I see we’re at the top of the hour and I wanna be mindful of time, but thank you so much, Ted, for joining us.
And thank you for all of you who are listening in and will listen in, as we learned about this important topic. And I think just to sum up, realize there is help and there is hope available for horrible things, even trauma. And, just be willing. We encourage you. We’d love to talk more, have more conversations, there’s resources out there to learn more, and whether you’re the sufferer or whether you’re the helper, be willing to reach out and seek that help and receive that hope that is out there in this difficult area.
So thank you again for joining us and we hope you have a wonderful day.