April 28, 2015

On Steps Two and Three: The Sanity and Decision Factors

This week, we wrap up our series with Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. in which she shares the healing power of trust and letting go of control.
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STEP TWO:   “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” 

In social work we say: “Start from where the client is.”  This applies to trust issues:  if you feel you cannot trust enough to ask for help, then you have just identified your starting point. You will begin your journey from the place of “I don’t / can’t trust”.

During your personal process of recovery from trauma, by applying the Twelve Steps, you will learn the difference between belief and trust.  A person can believe that a spiritual power exists; but that does not mean that he necessarily trusts that power. 

It is true that traumatic events shake up your world, have you questioning the meaning of life, and this puts up barriers to trust.  The goal of trusting a power greater than you can be an exacting taskmaster.  As a result, many survivors are attempting to do much more to heal than what once was
just a longing.  Having the courage to take your first steps in recovery is what lays down the bricks on your path, in order to “come to believe” that you could be restored to wholeness.

When you apply Step Two to your own life, you can begin the process of developing a sense of trust for safe others.  The essence of Step Two is coping with loss, including grieving for what is now gone and cannot be undone (perhaps you were once a very trusting person; innocent and vulnerable, and something or someone robbed that from you).  It is also about learning to know a Power greater than yourself, as a loving, sustaining energy, and not as an authority figure that will harm or control you.  Step Two is also about achieving some cognitive understanding that no matter what happened to you, a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity and integrity.  Think about this for a moment.  You are not to be blamed for your loss of trust, or any other reaction or formed beliefs.  Actually, it was a perfect response in the context of what happened.  


STEP THREE:  “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” 

You have worked Steps One and Two with a safe and trusted person – you have surrendered and you have demonstrated your willingness to try a new approach to your life experiences.  When you admit your powerlessness over your traumatic history, you learn a comforting and critical truth: that you experienced certain painful life events that you absolutely could not have controlled. You were also not always in control of the coping patterns that have emerged.  For some survivors, this can be a frightening and humbling experience. 

In addition to your traumatic life experiences, there are numerous things in life you cannot control.  Your willingness to view your experiences in a different light infuses you with a new sense of hope and relief.  However, if you do not translate your hope into action, you will revert to old behaviors.  


Your old behaviors, formulated by you as coping mechanisms, leave you feeling resentful, frustrated and angry.  As a trauma survivor, you try to be in control in many different ways.  Using your sexuality as punishment or reward, using guilt, dishonesty or “learned helplessness” to get your way, you try to get the results you want.

Another very common dysfunctional behavioral approach in dealing with people is trying to “take care of” or “fix” things, even if it is unsolicited, unnecessary or inappropriate.  Some of you may resort to threatening others, manipulating, or bullying to get your way, even if these tactics are not necessarily used maliciously. 

Your willingness to receive the care of a power greater than yourself will produce a life-changing transformational shift, because it opens you to new, broader possibilities.  You participate in rather than try to control life.  No one gets anything right without an appropriate amount of practice and patience, and this step is no different.

If you are anything like the average person, you will find that your openness will come and go.  However, as long as you remain on your personal spiritual path, a little bit of faith is enough to bring you back.  When you feel like giving up, remember that you are wired for growth and change (neo-plasticity).  By remaining honest, open and willing (H.O.W), you will be in the best position to change any negative and false beliefs about your Higher Power, yourself, and other people. 


Thank you so much for your participation up until this point!  I am delighted to have had this opportunity!  If you are interested in learning more about this process, please see my contact information below.  Good luck on your healing journey, and trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. 

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Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Science and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.  She is a highly intuitive and sensitive psychotherapist, with a private practice in Brooklyn, NY, and is a first time author specializing in trauma recovery and spirituality.  She has been active in the treatment and recovery field for more than eighteen years.  Since 2009, she has been working as a clinical social worker assisting clients who are recovering from trauma-related disorders.  She has treated numerous clients and has talked with hundreds of recovering addicts.  As her career was advancing, Rivka wondered if the ancient spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous could be applied to the healing of trauma.  One day, she was suddenly inspired with an idea that had a firm hold on her and has not let go since.  It combined the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that saved her life, with life problems that are a result of surviving traumatic experiences.  The result is a unique approach for trauma survivors who are seeking a combined spiritual and clinical approach to their personal effects of surviving trauma. www.rivkaedery.com

Author of: “Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide”
To purchase my book, “Trauma And Transformation: A 12-Step Guide” (2013): http://goo.gl/o3BndU

My podcast, "Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide", is available at the iTunes Store, Microsoft Windows Zune, and other podcast providers. You can search using my name, book title, or key words.

Bi-weekly Radio Show Guest Host
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA)
“Stop Child Abuse Now" talk show.  Every other Thursday is SPECIAL TOPIC Night - "Child Abuse, Trauma and 12-Step Recovery". Please see our web page at: www.NAASCA.org/Trauma-12Step

April 21, 2015

On Step One: The Admission of Powerlessness Factor

This week, we continue our series with Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. in which she shares with us the importance of acknowledging we may have been powerless but we are not helpless.
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STEP ONE:  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.  

Step One is your guide on how to process and heal from trauma.  It will also serve as your guide to personal growth, which is applicable for anyone, not just for trauma survivors. Why is processing trauma, and personal growth, important for you?  You may wonder of the necessity of going through such a process, especially if you are high functioning and successful in life.  Growing pains are painful, and we humans are wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure.

You also have a responsibility to take care of yourself, and although some pain can be avoided, there is the pain that cannot be avoided, and requires processing.   This is your turn now, and you begin with this first step.  The word “admit” is to accept what is valid and true for you personally.  This step asks you to accept what areas in your life that have been affected by your personal trauma history, causing your life to be out of control, unsatisfying, or chronically problematic for you.

Emotional growth includes freedom from a sense of false control and dependency, facing what needs your attention, replacing unnecessary emotional defenses, and ending spiritual isolation.  At this point, you may be thinking: “Just get over it and move on!  If I dwell on it, talk about it, explore it, I will just make it worse.  I don’t know why I should bother with this healing stuff?  After all, look at how 'fine' I am without knowing or dealing with what happened!”  

If there was a time in your life where natural dependency was used against you (childhood abuse and trauma), you may be highly triggered by “admitting powerlessness” over what happened.  After all, when you are powerless over something, it implies that you did not do something, but rather, you get done to.

If your powerlessness was once a weapon used to control you, and your protesting what happened carried little weight, you may associate “powerlessness” with defenseless, and this can be entirely too painful.  You may have never taken the risk to feel this vulnerable, or to explore the definitions of these terms, as it pertains to your growth.  After all, most people have the need to be in control, let alone if believing you are in control once saved your life, your mind, your sanity, etc.

Some survivors over-react and harm themselves or others.  In either case, there are always the elements of either over-reacting or under-reacting.  You do not have to remain this way the rest of your life.  The opposite of Step One is the erroneous and highly misleading belief that you have power (over what happened: people, places, and things), which results in you taking inappropriate or excessive responsibility.  This is because you think that you can stop the person(s), or event(s), or that in some way you actually caused it to happen.


Human nature is such that people would rather feel guilty than powerless.  That is why you assume a great deal of power; to counteract the real feelings of powerlessness, which is inherent in having been traumatized.  In what areas of your life can you see evidence for this?

TIP: Whenever you feel miserable, consider if it may be because you are forgetting that you are powerless of the situation (people, place, or thing), and you are mentally trying to change someone or something else, that you do not have any power to change. 

TIP:  Being powerless does NOT mean you are helpless.  It just means that you must change your source of power.  You are not the Source.  Internally, you may have taken on the entire burden, which leads to emotional entrapment and a form of mental slavery.  Unlearning your original beliefs about power, and responsibility, is the essence of Step One.

TIP:  Step One will allow you the freedom to love people in a genuine way, because you will be free of needing anything from them.  By letting go of control and manipulation, both you and the other person are free to be who they are.  You allow yourself, and others, to experience love on a different level – free from demands and hidden agendas.

You cannot overpower a traumatic event, and other people are beyond your power to control.  This is the essence of Step One.  If you integrate this principle into the very fiber of your being, you are experiencing the power of Step One.  You may need to return to this step as often as you need to, and feel free to do so.  It is now that you stand a real chance in changing your self-identified unhealthy patterns.


Please join me next week as we further explore Steps Two and Three of Alcoholics Anonymous, and their application for trauma-recovery:  Step Two: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”  Step Three:  “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”



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Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Science and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.  She is a highly intuitive and sensitive psychotherapist, with a private practice in Brooklyn, NY, and is a first time author specializing in trauma recovery and spirituality.  She has been active in the treatment and recovery field for more than eighteen years.  Since 2009, she has been working as a clinical social worker assisting clients who are recovering from trauma-related disorders.  She has treated numerous clients and has talked with hundreds of recovering addicts.  As her career was advancing, Rivka wondered if the ancient spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous could be applied to the healing of trauma.  One day, she was suddenly inspired with an idea that had a firm hold on her and has not let go since.  It combined the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that saved her life, with life problems that are a result of surviving traumatic experiences.  The result is a unique approach for trauma survivors who are seeking a combined spiritual and clinical approach to their personal effects of surviving trauma. www.rivkaedery.com

Author of: “Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide”
To purchase my book, “Trauma And Transformation: A 12-Step Guide” (2013): http://goo.gl/o3BndU

My podcast, "Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide", is available at the iTunes Store, Microsoft Windows Zune, and other podcast providers. You can search using my name, book title, or key words.

Bi-weekly Radio Show Guest Host
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA)
“Stop Child Abuse Now" talk show.  Every other Thursday is SPECIAL TOPIC Night - "Child Abuse, Trauma and 12-Step Recovery". Please see our web page at: www.NAASCA.org/Trauma-12Step

April 14, 2015

The Transformation Factor: Addiction, Trauma and Recovery

This week, we continues our series with Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. in which she shares with us the important transition we have to make from denial to acceptance.
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The consequences of surviving trauma are complex, making it difficult to formulate a recovery and treatment plan. The most common defense mechanism, and the toughest one to work through, is denial. Throughout human history, lack of knowledge and non-acceptance of the perpetrators misdeeds has placed the suffering of survivors behind an armored wall, perpetuating traumatic effects.  No recovery can occur behind this wall of forced silence, ignorance and lack of helpful resources.

Over the last two decades, research has revealed the frequency of traumatic events, and their injurious effects on a survivor’s psyche.  Mental health professional have come to understand the connections between unresolved trauma and serious psychological problems.

The survivor’s decision to begin a process of healing begins with the admission of what happened to them.  This involves working through the defenses employed to shun from consciousness the excruciatingly painful memories of the traumatic events.  Having passed through this phase of remembering (in any way possible), the acceptance of the truth of the traumatic experience moves the survivor towards resolution.

Thus begins the creation of an internal, healing space for the survivor to feel what remained frozen in time, banished and unwelcome in consciousness.  By going through the felt experience, the survivor can let go and access healing. The way is open to be in charge and responsible, embracing difficulties as well as personal assets and gifts.

Over the course of each survivor’s life, there will be people who will criticize any efforts to acknowledge and heal from traumatic experiences.  Such nay-sayers accuse survivors of using their histories to live in the past or to make excuses for personal problems.  This criticism comes from those who have limited empathy, or may be in denial about their own mistreatment.

Qualified trauma specialists know that the stress from repression manifests itself in serious life difficulties.  The perpetrators themselves will often intimidate their victims in an attempt to enforce silence.  Although the absolute recall of traumatic events is not possible, the overwhelming consequences and burden on the untreated survivor deserves attention.


Please join me next week as we talk about Step One of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:  “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”  We will explore what, if anything, this step can teach us about trauma recovery.


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Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Science and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.  She is a highly intuitive and sensitive psychotherapist, with a private practice in Brooklyn, NY, and is a first time author specializing in trauma recovery and spirituality.  She has been active in the treatment and recovery field for more than eighteen years.  Since 2009, she has been working as a clinical social worker assisting clients who are recovering from trauma-related disorders.  She has treated numerous clients and has talked with hundreds of recovering addicts.  As her career was advancing, Rivka wondered if the ancient spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous could be applied to the healing of trauma.  One day, she was suddenly inspired with an idea that had a firm hold on her and has not let go since.  It combined the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that saved her life, with life problems that are a result of surviving traumatic experiences.  The result is a unique approach for trauma survivors who are seeking a combined spiritual and clinical approach to their personal effects of surviving trauma. www.rivkaedery.com

Author of: “Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide”
To purchase my book, “Trauma And Transformation: A 12-Step Guide” (2013): http://goo.gl/o3BndU

My podcast, "Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide", is available at the iTunes Store, Microsoft Windows Zune, and other podcast providers. You can search using my name, book title, or key words.

Bi-weekly Radio Show Guest Host
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA)
“Stop Child Abuse Now" talk show.  Every other Thursday is SPECIAL TOPIC Night - "Child Abuse, Trauma and 12-Step Recovery". Please see our web page at: www.NAASCA.org/Trauma-12Step

April 7, 2015

The Spirituality Factor: Addiction, Trauma and Recovery

This week, we begin a series by Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. -- and I couldn't be more thrilled. Rivka has done amazing work bringing the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous and spirituality to the world of trauma recovery. I'm sure you will gain so much from her over these next few weeks!
 
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The role of spirituality in trauma recovery is often misunderstood and subsequently minimized. There is a great need for understanding the healing potential of spirituality in addiction and trauma recovery. Utilizing spirituality as part of trauma–informed care, while detailing the complicated puzzle of the survivor’s inner reality, requires a step-by-step process of applying spiritual tools to each phase of recovery.

This process significantly alters a life of pain and confusion. It is my pleasure to introduce to you, during the course of the next few weeks, a series that explains, and discusses, the process of utilizing the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as an adjunct for trauma-recovery.


Trauma survivors usually have a difficult time experiencing their vulnerability and the attending feelings of having once been profoundly helpless and alone. The process of unearthing one’s memories and re-experiencing anguish requires the help of skilled, knowledgeable and spiritually grounded professionals who have done healing work on themselves. With issues as delicate and sensitive as deep emotional wounding, each survivor and counselor must approach the recovery path with patience, self-love, self-care and the development of an appropriate support network.

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous comprise a spiritual program used to treat alcoholics and other individuals with a range of self destructive and addictive tendencies. The potential for transformation in trauma-recovery lies in the powerful spiritual process that has its own mysterious element to it.

Due to the nature of the wound of trauma that is so often intertwined with addiction, a comprehensive approach to healing the physical, mental and spiritual wounding is essential. It is my hope that survivors will consider incorporating a rich spiritual component to their recovery, and encourage others to do the same.

Please join me next week, as we talk about “The Transformation Factor”

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Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Science and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.  She is a highly intuitive and sensitive psychotherapist, with a private practice in Brooklyn, NY, and is a first time author specializing in trauma recovery and spirituality.  She has been active in the treatment and recovery field for more than eighteen years.  Since 2009, she has been working as a clinical social worker assisting clients who are recovering from trauma-related disorders.  She has treated numerous clients and has talked with hundreds of recovering addicts.  As her career was advancing, Rivka wondered if the ancient spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous could be applied to the healing of trauma.  One day, she was suddenly inspired with an idea that had a firm hold on her and has not let go since.  It combined the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that saved her life, with life problems that are a result of surviving traumatic experiences.  The result is a unique approach for trauma survivors who are seeking a combined spiritual and clinical approach to their personal effects of surviving trauma. www.rivkaedery.com

Author of: “Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide”
To purchase my book, “Trauma And Transformation: A 12-Step Guide” (2013): http://goo.gl/o3BndU

My podcast, "Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide", is available at the iTunes Store, Microsoft Windows Zune, and other podcast providers. You can search using my name, book title, or key words.

Bi-weekly Radio Show Guest Host
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA)
“Stop Child Abuse Now" talk show.  Every other Thursday is SPECIAL TOPIC Night - "Child Abuse, Trauma and 12-Step Recovery". Please see our web page at: www.NAASCA.org/Trauma-12Step

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