Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Trauma Tool Kit Wins Awards!



I am happy to announce that in the last month, my book The Trauma Tool Kit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out has won both the 2013 Silver Nautilus Book Award and the Alumni Award for Written Work from Simmons College School of Social Work. Remember, you can read this book for free if you order it to your local library. Over 112 libraries around the world carry The Trauma Tool Kit!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mindy McCready's Death: Did Mental Health Treatment Fail?

My husband is an interventional cardiologist. Most of the people he sees are in manageable stages of cardiac disease. Some of his patients are quite sick and come in with advanced stages of illness. A few are dead and dying when they reach his cath lab. Miraculously, he can bring a few back to life, or ease their suffering greatly with stents and medications, saving them the trauma of open heart surgery.

Nobody is surprised when some of these people die. Sad. But not surprised. And certainly not outraged.

I’m a psychotherapist, as is Dr. Drew Pinsky. In the media Dr. Drew has been blamed for the recent death of country singer Mindy McCready, who appeared on his show Rehab a few seasons ago. Like my husband, we both see people in various stages of illness. We’ve held people’s lives in our hands in our offices as surely as my husband has in his cath lab.

Dr. Drew, on his show Rehab, treats the sickest of the sick. He admits people to his hospital who have a terrible prognosis, many of whom have been told they are going to die if they don’t get treatment. They are in the end stages of addiction, a disease just as surely fatal as heart disease.

Yet, for some reason, when these patients die, the good doctor is blamed. Why? He is treating those who need intensive intervention and treatment in a psychiatric facility, just as my husband treats people in his hospital. These patients can get well with interventions for a period of time and then fail, just as cardiac patients can.

I can only chalk this reaction up to the ignorance and wishful thinking of the American people. Here is what I, as a lifelong mental health practitioner, would like the general public to know:

1) Addiction is a deadly disease, no less of a threat than cancer, heart disease, or a terrible accident.

2) It takes a highly skilled practitioner, one with hundreds if not thousands of hours of training, practice and supervision to help these people get better, and, yet, like other physicians, we still may lose our patients.


3) When we do lose our patients, we feel terrible. We work so much more intimately with our patients than, say, my husband does with his. We know their secrets, their character. We have laughed with them and possibly cried with them. It is impossible to be a good therapist without attaching to our clients and they to us.

4) Clinicians don’t just ever treat addictions. Addictions are always a symptom of a much bigger problem, and, frankly, that problem almost always involves boatloads of psychological trauma.

5) Working with traumatic stress is incredibly taxing for patient and practitioner. Frankly, not that many people want to do it. If you don’t believe me ask yourself when the last time is that you asked someone to tell you about their history of abuse and neglect and then listened all the way to the end of their story. Never? I rest my case.

6) Mental health clinicians are the pariahs of the medical community in the same way our patients are pariahs in the public’s eye. We treat “losers” so we must be losers is how so many of us are seen (if you wish you can substitute the word “crazy” for “loser”). Most of us are undervalued, underpaid and disempowered, but we soldier on because we believe in our work and enjoy helping people end their suffering.

7) My husband never lacks for the tools to do his work. His patients have the best equipment, the best care, and only leave the hospital when they are well enough to go home. Often they go home with assistance of some kind or another. This is rarely true in mental health work. Our patients do not have long enough stays to get better, have trouble accessing clinicians who know how to treat them, and are often discharged without enough support at home.

Even with the best support money can buy, some patients, like the country singer Mindy McCready, fail. Some people do well until they are put under undo stress and then they collapse. This was the case, as far as I can tell, with Ms. McCready. She’d already had several suicide attempts until the completed suicide of her boyfriend. She snapped.

How is this Dr. Drew’s fault? Now, I know there is some controversy about publicly airing shows on mental health treatment, and the questions are valid. Yet, as a professional whose work is always done in complete opacity, I’m happy that the general public gets to see some of what I and thousands of my colleagues give to our clients on a daily basis. I can’t participate in Take Your Daughter to Work Day, but we can sit down and watch an episode of Rehab.

I am sorry that Mindy lost her battle with depression and addiction. I am sad that Dr. Drew is getting blamed for losing a patient in the end stages of a terrible disease process. I hope we can all use this event to deepen our understanding of the terrible costs and demands of mental health and addictions instead of using it as a way to take a cheap shot at a profession that works in areas that no one else will touch.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ritual Abuse, Silly Jingles and EFT

This transcript reveals the power of healing through EFT, a technique of dehypnotization, decoupling and tapping that painlessly takes the sting out of powerful traumatic memories and helps resolve them, forever freeing the body-mind of their influence.  I've written about EFT in the book.  This transcript is a powerful read.  Caution: May be Triggering.

http://www.eftuniverse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4351:glenda-ritual-abuse-qim-too-damaged-to-healq&catid=29:trauma-and-ptsd763&Itemid=3128

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Website Up!

I am very happy to announce that my new website is up and running at www.suepeasebanitt.com.  My blog will be moving soon to this new website complete with archives of this one.  There are upcoming events, coaching and past life regression services , radio interviews and more!  I look forward to seeing you there.

Happy 2013!

Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Power of Persistence (or What you Resist, Persists)




I don’t know how to say this to you any other way so I’m just going to say it:  There is no easy way to heal from psychological trauma.

There is no pill, no elixir, no magic wand, no therapist, no book, no workshop, no yoga class, no blogger that will give you a quick fix from your suffering.  I’m sorry; I truly am.

If you want to heal from PTSD you are going to have to work very hard for a long time. You are going to have to spend money (probably a lot of money relative to your income) to get help to overcome what you feel should have never happened to you. And then you will have to work some more.

In my book I compare the journey of healing PTSD to the journey that Frodo takes in The Lord of the Rings trilogy to cast the evil, all powerful ring back into it’s source: a dangerous volcano hidden inside of an even more dangerous enemy territory governed by an all seeing magical evil sorcerer.  Frodo has two choices.  He can either stay in his comfort zone in the bucolic shire of his childhood and live in denial until his land is ultimately overrun with evil mutant elves and destroyed while the ring has corrupted him (or someone else) completely.  Or, he can man up and take the journey, one that is most perilous and with no guarantee of success and try to destroy the thing forever.

This is basically our choice as well. Is the journey so easy? If it were, everyone would make it.

Yes, I know it sucks.  But suck it up folks. That is the way it is.  I can only say this to you, not because I am cruel and heartless, but because this is a journey that I’ve taken.  I’ve done the dirt time, so to speak, in spades.

It is totally worth it.  The sooner you get over resistance to healing and begin, the better.  Healing PTSD takes a chunk of your life.  Not healing from PTSD takes your entire life (and possibly future lifetimes if you believe in that sort of thing).

Take a moment and review the pros and cons of healing:

Pros                                                                 Cons

Peace of mind                                                  Nightmares and flashbacks for the rest of your life, chronic anxiety

The ability to love and be loved                     Failed relationships; people who are afraid of you; persistent loneliness

Bodily health                                                  Heart disease, migraines, joint pain, digestive issues, auto immune diseases

Wisdom                                                           Ignorance, bitterness, confusion

Compassion for self and others                      Self-pity, entitlement, self-loathing, shame

Money well spent in healing                          Money ill spent in addictions, diversions and distractions


Well, you get the picture. 

So which will it be?  Healing PTSD does have an endpoint.  It brings gifts beyond
compare but only if you finish the job.  You have no more time to lose. Put this at the top
of your New Year’s Resolutions and you will ring in a much brighter 2014.

Blessings on your journey of healing!

Endurance is the most difficult of all the disciplines but it is to the one who endures that
the final victory comes. ~ Buddha





Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Relevance of Mind Control and Mass Shootings

At least one of the recent spate of murderous shooting rampages show evidence of high level mind control of the perpetrator. The Aurora shooter, James Holmes is reported to have told another inmate that he thought he was in a video game at the time of the shooting and that he had been programmed and rehearsed to complete the shooting at the movie theater.

Crazy, you say?

Well many therapists, many of my colleagues have treated patients with credible stories of mind control perpetrated by factions within the US and other governments. These techniques were developed and honed in the Nazi death camps. Those "technologies" were then imported along with clandestine Nazi scientists into the USA through the infamous Project Paperclip program. Scientists have been perfecting these techniques for decades beginning with the famous MKUltra program and others such as Projects Monarch and Bluebird. These programs are well documented by releases under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Unfortunately under the Bush administration many previously released documents were reclassified or redacted to the point of illegibility. Nevertheless copies remain in the hands of a few.These programs were publicly discontinued several decades ago, but the research and the programming has continued clandestinely under ultra secret black ops programs.

I have heard disclosures from prominent therapists and psychiatrists, one of whom revealed in a public workshop that some of his clients could trace their programming back to "scientist and program" and that he had shared a hallway with Martin K. Orne who used to brag about his ability to make people do anything he wanted. (Orne has sat on the famous and fraudulent False Memory Foundation and is implicated in the MKUltra programs of the 1970s).

Any time therapists and their clients have tried to step forward with this information we have been threatened, attacked and sometimes had our licenses revoked. Therapists have also been harassed with reports of mutilated animals being left at their houses and even break-ins. There has been a profound media silence in the United States about such matters even while Canada publicized a national case of successfully suing and winning a settlement with the CIA over the mind control practices executed in that country.

Today a colleague whom I respect highly sent out a release about this article on her blog about why therapists have not been credible in the media and the attacks to which we have been regularly subjected on behalf of our clients.

I hope you will take a moment to read it, but I must warn you that if this information is new to you or if you have been a victim of these programs, you will find it highly disturbing.

If you want answers and want things to really change you must educate yourself on the unthinkable. These programs must be exposed and disbanded and the thousands of citizens subjected to them require healing apace.

You can find the article here:

Common Forms of Misinformation and Tactics of Disinformation about Psychotherapy for Trauma Originating in Ritual Abuse and Mind Control by Ellen Lacter, Ph.D.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sandy Update 3: Top Five Reasons You're Eligible to Apply for SBA Disaster Assistance | SBA.gov

Sandy Update 3: Top Five Reasons You're Eligible to Apply for SBA Disaster Assistance | SBA.gov

If you have property destruction from Sandy, please read this very important article.  You don't have to be a business owner or to have insurance to apply for a low interest loan from the Small Business Administration.  You might also be able to apply even if you live in a Coastal Barrier Zone.  Most loans are made at four percent! The remainder are at six percent. Read the article for complete details.

Monday, November 26, 2012

PTSD and the Holiday Season

Here’s the sad truth. PTSD often worsens during the holiday season. One would hope it was different, that holiday cheer, food, friends and good spirit would pop up like champagne on one of those commercials we see on TV where people are toasting each other, smiling and all looking fit, young and strong. But alas, it is not and here are some reasons why:

1) Holidays come with lots of triggers. We can be around too many people or too few. Even if we want to be with people, loneliness can be enhanced by the inability to connect in the midst of deep emotions such as fear, grief, or rage. There is no lonely like the lonely that comes in the midst of a group of friends or family.

2) We tend to eat foods that aggravate our nervous system. PTSD causes an inflammatory reaction in the body (see my HPA Axis posts). When we pile on the sugar, alcohol, fatty foods and just plain junk that pervades holiday fare our delicate and taxed nervous system can come under a lot of strain. Eating aggravates our anxiety, and anxiety aggravates our eating, repeating until New Year’s Resolutions come.

3) Feelings of self-loathing tend to emerge more strongly in holiday season. Perhaps we are trying to live up to an unattainable ideal of our religious faith or maybe proximity to family reminds us of our (and their) shortcomings. Whatever the reason, the phenomenon is real.

4) There is a lot of stimuli in the environment! Bright lights, flashing lights, loud music, smells, endless holiday music, crowded shopping environments all add to the load on the nervous system. Not to mention traveling on overcrowded airplanes and roads in dangerous weather. Not exactly a good environment for the hypervigilant and stressed.

If you think avoiding the holidays is easy, just watch the hilarious movie, Christmas with the Kranks. A lucky few might escape to Hawaii or a cruise but even then the holidays follow and are on our mind (if not our neighbors).

So, what to do? If you see a therapist and can afford it, scheduling extra sessions can be helpful. For those of us not lucky enough to have that resource, protection from the holiday barrage starts with our own awareness.

Pace yourself. Take some time every day to see what it is you do and don’t want to do. Say ‘no’ as often as you must. Stop worrying about hurting other people’s feelings, and focus on healing your own. Remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. For it will.

Better yet, dig down in yourself to find your own meaning of the holiday – whether it is about religion, vacation, or promoting your business, find the meaning that will be best for you.

Move into alignment with the season. In Chinese philosophy, winter is a time to move inside, to become dormant like the plants outside, resting so that our roots will be nourished and the plant flourish in the Spring. This is my favorite meaning of the winter holidays: renewal, self-nourishment, quiet companionship with those you love, sleep. Lots of sleep.

So here is my wish for you in the holiday and end of year time: Know when you are triggered and move to take care of yourself as needed. Cultivate compassion in your heart for yourself and others. Rest. Eat well. (And read The Trauma Tool Kit as needed.)

Happy Holidays.




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Research is in: Meditation works!

Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain

The good folks at Mass General Hospital (MGH), Boston University and other research institutions have shown conclusively in a research setting, for the first time, that an 8-week meditation program affected brain function in a positive way even when the subjects were not meditating.  The amygdala (our crisis response center) was positively affected by their modest practice.  Highly recommended reading!(Click on the title to go right to the article.)


Monday, November 5, 2012

Helping Kids Recover From Hurricane Sandy

Children can be particularly vulnerable to distressing weather and events. Most parents have not been taught to look for signs that children are under stress, or even intense stress. This blog, by request, will give you some tips on helping your children recover from Sandy.

First know that your child is stressed. Some signs that children are stressed include:

- repetitive talk about the event
- repetitive drawing of the event
- unusually irritable
- unusually withdrawn
- needy and clingy
- more forgetful than usual
- having trouble regulating emotions: laughing silly “highs” crash into sullen “lows”
- hair-pulling (trichotillomania)
- disturbed eating
- disturbed sleep


We forget what it is like to be a child. Under 14 years of age, children have some awareness that they cannot survive without adult assistance; this is especially true for very young children. Children watch their parents very carefully and take their cues from them about whether they should be upset or not. In addition children have losses in the storm that adults may trivialize or not realize the depth of the loss. For instance, a parent may not know that a stuffed animal was more like a best friend, or that a destroyed work of their art has taken away a precious sense of self. Because parents are suffering their own losses and in survival mode they may not feel like children are dealing with anything significant, but, of course, they are.

Here are some ways to help your child heal in the aftermath:

1) Limit media exposure of the event. Adults tend to watch traumatic events obsessively but we know from 9/11 that this can create traumas in kids who may not understand that they are seeing the same event repeated rather than several different events. TV may make them think the world is ending

2) Set some “processing” time aside every day for your kids where they can express their feelings. Young children (3yrs-8yrs) might be encouraged to color, draw a picture, or engage in puppet play. 8-12 years olds might want more information about storms, or just to spend time playing games. (Experienced child therapists know that most kids need to be occupied with a game or activity in order to talk about their feelings.) Teenagers may be able to sit and talk if they are mature, and are invited to participate in a judgment free zone. Also, ball throwing and basketball hoop shooting are excellent ways to get kids to open up. During this time turn off your phone and your own agendas and create a lot of space to just listen or answer questions.

3) Try to keep a normal rhythm to the day, even if you are in a shelter. Have regular mealtimes, structured activities and a bed time.

4) Speaking of bedtime, be aware that sleep may be difficult at first. Kids may be having unpleasant dreams processing the storm. Be patient and non-judgmental about this, while helping maintain a schedule.

5) Monitor your own reactions. Calm yourself down as much as possible. Do not share horrible new stories with your kids or in earshot of them. They will be alarmed but will not tell you.

6) Understand that quiet kids may not be OK. Invite them to play with you or help you with simple chores. Reinforce any sharing with your attention and love.

7) Provide lots of hugs and affection. Take time for yourself and for them. You both need the contact!

8) If your child has a pronounced behavioral change reach out for professional help ASAP. Red Cross will have referrals for free and low-income therapy professionals.

9) Be active in reassuring your children that life will get better. Hold the optimism for them, even if you are feeling discouraged. This is kind and wise parenting.

10) Lastly, cultivate patience! Be patient with your kids and be patient with the city and be patient with yourself. Stop and breathe as needed. Practice self-care and stay aware of your own needs! Then you won’t resist the children’s needs when they are up.

Know that there are so many of us pulling for all of you and your kids. Be well and be safe!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Ten Tips to Help You Weather the Storm

Sandy is a big unsexy monster ready to pound the East Coast. Here are some tips for surviving the storm and its aftermath.

1) Don’t be afraid to get help! This is no time for pride. NGO’s and government assistance programs exist to help people in need. Helping in emergencies is a core function of government (and your taxes) and, indeed, a mark of a civilized society. If you wait too long to get help you may end up inconveniencing and/or endangering yourself, those around you or those who can help you. It’s really OK. We all need assistance some time in our lives. Maybe it’s your turn.

2) FEMA is a great resource. Many states along the Mid-Atlantic and the East Coast have shelters open in response to Hurricane Sandy. Search for an open shelter by texting SHELTER + a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). You can also download the FEMA disaster app for the device of your choosing here: http://apps.usa.gov/fema-mobile.shtml.

3) RED CROSS (NGO) is over 130 years old and helps approximately 70,000 people a year survive and thrive after disasters. Be prepared: From your mobile phone, call "**REDCROSS" (**73327677) and they will send you a link to download the app to your phone or you can download them directly from the iTunes or Google Play app stores. If you don’t need them, great. But if you do, you will have their information at the ready! Use them; you can always make a donation later.

4) Know where your local homeless shelter is. Up and down the East Coast homeless shelters have been expanding services. If your home or apartment becomes unlivable during the storm, go there! Here is a link for all the homeless shelters in the state of New York: http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/newyork.html

5) Find a church. Any church. Whether you are a believer or not. Churches have been gearing up for this storm for days. They don’t care about the state of your belief or non-belief. They just want to help. Let them.

6) Make sure you stay on any and all medications! If you run out or something happens, get more at your local Emergency Room. When I worked on the no-name storm (aka Perfect Storm) one of the biggest problems was people who had lost or gone off of their medication. You can become disoriented and ill quickly going off some medications suddenly. Set timers and be sure you stay on schedule! Time gets wonky when there is a big storm or emergency happening. If you have to evacuate suddenly, make your medications a priority in packing!

7) Keep yourself busy and happy. Storms bring unexpected bonuses in terms of companionship, comraderie, time off, clearing of pollution, quiet, relief from inane media, and neighborliness. In the no-name storm, people who ventured out onto the beach after the storm found hundreds of flash-frozen lobsters ready for the picking!

8) Check on your neighbors – especially those who are infirm, elderly or who have children. You might become somebody’s patron saint!

9) Don’t do work beyond your capacity (be a foolish hero). There is an abundance of emergency workers on call for power outages, health emergencies, etc. Let them do their work as professionals. You do them the biggest favor by staying out of their way and keeping yourself safe.

10) Don’t panic over material goods. There are many resources available to help you build your life and home back after the storm. One of these is the Small Business Administration. According to their website: “The SBA provides low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster." http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/disaster-loans

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween: A Tough Season for Ritual Abuse Survivors

Ritual Abuse. Yes, it’s real. Yes, I know there are many of you white knuckling your way through October. Hang on!

For an unfortunate but larger than you might think number of Americans, Halloween is a time that activates ritual abuse memories and/or programming.
I know nobody talks about this. Therapists have been running scared since the sham lawsuits and harassment of the last two decades by the now discredited False Memory Foundation.

But I’m here to tell you , it’s real. And I feel for all of you who have been hurt in this fashion.

Ritual Abuse (RA) survivors have a unique set of triggers. Because so many are abused in rituals around Halloween (Satanic and Witchcraft ceremonial time) these triggers can get very activating. In some cases, there may be programming to return to the cult for ceremony. These internally installed prompts may be conscious or, more likely, unconscious especially for those who are still under cult control and connection.

If you think you may be a ritual abuse survivor, you may want to check out this page of Ellen Lacter, Ph.D.’s comprehensive RA survivor website, endritualabuse.org.

If you know you are, here are some reminders:

~ know that Halloween programming and compulsions will pass right after the “holiday”

~ surround yourself with safe friends

~ plan to make extra appointments with your therapist

~ go on a media fast until the end of the month

~ take extra good care of yourself and your “littles” this month

~ affirm your own inherent spirituality unrelated to any rituals

Know that there are many of us out here wishing you safety, healing and freedom. Take good care of yourself!

Monday, October 8, 2012

ACE (Adverse Childhood Events): The Most Important Trauma Study You’ve Never Heard About





In order to understand why his obesity patients were dropping out of a successful weight loss program, Dr. Vincent Felitti dived into their medical records and interviews for clues. What he found launched a several year study that has enrolled more than 17,000 people. These patients were talking about incest, abuse and neglect, extreme adversity in their childhoods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Felitti with Kaiser Permanente launched a study to look at adverse childhood events and their effect on health and longevity over the lifespan.

What is an adverse childhood event? For the purposes of the study it is:

- sexual abuse
- physical abuse
- emotional abuse
- physical neglect
- emotional neglect
- a home where the mother was treated violently
- substance abuse in the home
- mental illness in the home
- parental separation or divorce
- one or more parents imprisoned

Count up the categories that apply to you. That gives you your ACE score. Anything above 4 predisposes people to substance abuse, dysfunction and health issues among other things. People with the highest scores died on average 20 years earlier than people with low ACE scores. (For more information about the mechanisms of these effects see my earlier blog posts on the HPA Axis.)

You can check out more information about the study here. Highly recommended reading for everyone: those of us who suffered difficult childhoods, caregivers, treaters and public policy setters.

This can feel overwhelming as we delve into the truth. The good news is that we are beginning to finally come to terms with the widespread effects of trauma and PTSD and the need to heal from it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Help! My Partner Has PTSD: Seven Strategies for Coping as a Couple


If you are partnered with someone who is struggling with PTSD or you both have PTSD, you know your life together is challenged in some very profound ways. Fights can be explosive, resulting in fireworks or endless stony silences. Misunderstandings can abound. The non-PTSD partner may start to develop secondary or vicarious trauma just being exposed to the intense PTSD in their loved one. Life can start to feel very unpredictable, like threading one’s way through a minefield. It can be easy to start walking on eggshells or conversely getting fed up and moving away from each other. Love and connection are harder to feel. PTSD challenges couples like nothing else. Waiting it out doesn’t work and neither do threats or force. What to do?

1) Educate yourself. PTSD is a whole body process that affects every aspect of the human being. It has predictable stages (see my book, The Trauma Tool Kit) and effects on the person and the partnership. You would educate yourself if your partner had a major medical illness, right? This is no different. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes.

2) Set some clear boundaries around behavior in the relationship. Just because someone is suffering does not give them the right to be abusive. The anger/fear response is hardwired and amped up in full-blown PTSD. Often people with PTSD dissociate when they are angry and don’t even realize what they are doing. Sit down with your partner, ahead of time, and set rules for what is tolerable and allowed in the relationship and what is not. These can change over time depending on where each of you and your life circumstance. For instance, shouting might be OK if it is just the two of you, but if you have a child in the next room, shouting can become off-limits behavior. Violence or abusive behavior is never to be tolerated under any circumstances.

3) Learn to take time-outs, or, as we call them around here, amygdala resets. Your amygdala is the part of your brain that is the crisis response center. When it goes on red alert it highjacks the brain to deal with threats, whether real or perceived. With the amygdala in the red zone, people are very close to being out of control or they are out of control. Taking 20 minutes, the average reset time, to reboot the brain for both parties, will lend itself to a more peaceful and safe outcome. Either partner should be able to call time-out at any time. Be sure to make it a time out not an end to the discussion. Always come back together to resolve the issue at hand. If it is just too explosive get into couple’s therapy. Which reminds me…

4) Get into couple’s therapy! More research is showing that couple’s treatment can be very helpful in coping with PTSD. Individual therapy is great, but couple’s issues are complex and require their own special interventions. Not all therapists like to do or can do couples’ work well. Look for someone with previous education and training or with a degree in family work, who also is knowledgeable about trauma. Even a few sessions can make a tremendous difference. If you are worried about money (and who isn’t these days) know that there are many organizations that provide these services for low and no cost. If you are a veteran or married to one, you may be even more eligible. If money is still on your mind, remind yourself of how expensive divorces are, as long as you both shall live.

5) Study triggers together. Big rages and emotional swings are almost always brought on by triggers to PTSD. A trigger can be anything at all. I worked with a couple whose partner was an Iraq war veteran. He became severely triggered one afternoon by three events happening in close succession: he saw someone in the parking lot of the restaurant with camouflage clothing; he got a freeze headache, and he got closed in when more people joined his table. The clothing and feeling of being trapped are obvious triggers, the freeze headaches not so much. But it turned out he’d had a number of them in the desert, and it had become a trigger. The more triggers you figure out together, in the calm times, the easier it becomes to avoid setting the PTSD partner off, or resolving it more quickly if you do. This is an empowering step that often brings couples closer together. In this case, the couple avoided, what would have been in the past an angry meltdown on his part. His partner then could respond with concern and compassion.

6) Make healing PTSD a joint task in your relationship. Strategize together. Discuss medical options. Open up lines of trust and communication. Often a spouse or partner is the only person to tell one’s story to with complete safety and trust. Don’t avoid the issues just because your partner wants to. Avoidance is part of the disease of PTSD. Don’t collude with it.

7) Join together in mental and physical fitness. Develop couple’s routines around calming down the mind and body on a daily basis. This could be through prayer, meditation, tai chi, yoga, or long walks. The evidence is pouring in daily about the beneficial effects of calming techniques on PTSD. You will both be better for it!