Traumatized clients may be living with the fear center of their brain perpetually activated. Because of this, other parts of their brain—the ones allowing for reasonable decision making, for example—may get “turned off”. This can make it difficult for traumatized people to function in and learn from the world around them.

By Sonja V. Batten, PhD

As a therapist or coach, our job is to work with our clients to move their lives forward in meaningful ways. But this is often easier said than done.

Obstacles can arise both on the part of the client and the therapist. If you’re finding that words are coming a lot more easily than actions for your clients, here are 3 common traps that you and your client may have fallen into:

Living in chronic fight- flight- freeze mode and having an overactive sympathetic nervous system can cause all sorts of health problems.

During normal states of stress, the hormones and other chemicals our body releases enhance endurance, strength, and focus. However, when constantly secreted in large amounts due to chronically being in survival mode, the same hormones can impair learning abilities, memory, physical function, and the immune system.

A number of medical conditions have been linked to PTSD and its chronic stress level. These include, among others, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders (Boscarino 2004), fibromyalgia (Boscarino 2004; Cohen et al. 2002), multiple chemical sensitivities (Scaer 2014), thyroid abnormalities, and other hormone dysfunctions.

Emerging from the CBS (cognitive behavioral science) and ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) literature as a set of evidence-based psychotherapy processes, psychological flexibility involves the development of expanding and adaptive behavioral repertoires that can be maintained in the presence of distressing events that typically narrow behavioral repertoires.

Before you begin using ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) with your clients, it’s best to have a good sense of the entire ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) model. This includes knowing a variety of core metaphors and exercises you can use and having a working understanding of the basic theory.

The flexibility processes—acceptance, defusion, committed action, self-as-context, values, present moment awareness—are sometime presented as if they were separate. However, they are actually interdependent. Thus it’s important to allow time for a period of growth with the theory and therapy. Lacking a basic understanding of one process could lead to difficulties in implementing other processes, as well as confusion and dead ends in therapy.

Have you ever wanted to be a Superhero? To have magical powers like Harry Potter or to have superpowers like Superman or Wonder Woman?

My name is Janina Scarlet. I was born and raised in Ukraine. When I was just a few months shy of my third birthday, there was a massive nuclear explosion a few cities away from us at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. This event forever changed my life.

My immune system was severely weakened due to radiation exposure. I would get sick very easily.  I got frequent nosebleeds, which wouldn’t clot. I spent many years in and out of the hospital.. A side effect which still affects me to this day is that whenever the weather changes, I experience severe migraines, and sometimes seizures.

Clinicians experienced in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are likely to be familiar with the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the primary treatment approach.  This highly effective treatment typically consists of three basic protocols:

  • psychoeducation about the disorder

  • cognitive interventions that challenge distorted ways of thinking about experiences

  • behavioral interventions, namely, exposure and response prevention (ERP), which involves confronting obsessive fears intentionally and resisting related compulsive physical and mental acts.


These are all buzzwords that have become more and more present in our national discourse in recent years. Within the mental health field, however, these discussions have been written about and researched for decades. In fact, there have been multiple taskforces, divisions, and guidelines developed to integrate multicultural competence in the provision of mental health services and research. Yet, there appears to be lingering challenges in translating the call for multicultural competence from literature to practice. Illuminating the greatest challenges to being or becoming a culturally competent therapist allows for strategic planning to ameliorate such barriers in ethical and effective care.

By Steven C. Hayes, PhD

Last week I was giving a webinar to a few thousand people, which is a lot for anyone I guess, and as I was getting set up a memory flashed through my mind of completely mangling a word in a elementary school class presentation. I almost involuntarily winced with embarrassment before noting with a sense of curiosity and a bit of humor that I’m the only person alive today with that memory.

By Matt Boone, LCSW

Helping people is hard work.

It can be especially hard if you are a helping professional. No matter what setting you work in, whether it's a hospital, clinic, or private practice, you will likely encounter deep suffering every day. It's in the nature of the business. People rarely come to us with simple, easy-to-solve problems. More often they bring lifetimes of secret hurts and private struggles.


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