Critical training to better protect, support, and heal vulnerable children

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BRING BACK TO THE PRESENT (WHEN EXPERIENCING FLASHBACKS)

series: emotional wellbeing of children by Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, Richard P. Brown, MD
& Somiari Demm, MA/M.Div, CYT, CTS

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

If the child is having a flashback--an experience where they're so overwhelmed that they're losing their awareness of where they are--you may need to do more than just basic grounding. There are a number of different techniques you can use.

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Of course, the first thing you want to do is get their attention. Usually, they'll be sitting hunched over, or even lying down, with their eyes shut in a clenched position. First, say their name and say to them, "Open your eyes and look at me." Say their name again. You may have to do this several times. Repeat, "Open your eyes and look at me." Then say: "We're here in the camp. You're safe. I'm your teacher." You say your name, then you say their name. You want to orient them repeatedly to where they are.

You may say to them, "Breathe with me." Then, show them and model it. Have them take some deep breaths with you.

Continue telling them to open their eyes, reminding them of where they are, but you want to do this in a calm, steady tone. You don't want to be upset yourself. You want to use your calmness, your physical presence, and a little bit of grounding to remind them to feel the floor with their feet.

In other words, encourage them to go into their grounding practice. If you've taught it ahead of time, it's a lot easier. It's hard to teach grounding in the middle of a flashback, so these are just some approaches that you can begin to use.


 
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Dr. Patricia Gerbarg

Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor in Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Dr. Gerbarg has lectured and taught about a wide range of topics in psychiatry, psychoanalysis, women’s issues, trauma, neurobiology, natural treatments (herbs, nutrients), and the integration...

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of mind-body practices in psychotherapy for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Meetings and many other conferences, academic centers, and community organizations.She serves on the APA Caucus on Complementary and Integrative Psychiatry and is a board member of the American Botanical Council.

Dr. Gerbarg practices Integrative Psychiatry, combining standard and complementary treatments. Her research focuses on mind-body practices for reducing the effects of stress and trauma, particularly in survivors of mass disasters, including the Southeast Asia Tsunami, 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, war in Sudan, Gulf Horizon Oil Spill, veterans, and stress-related medical illnesses.

 

Dr. Richard P. Brown

Dr. Richard P. Brown is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons where he obtained his medical degree 1977. The recipient of numerous awards, he has authored over 100 scientific articles,...

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books, and book chapters on pharmacological treatments, clinical studies, and complementary and integrative treatments in psychiatry.

Dr. Brown developed a comprehensive neurophysiological theory of the effects of breathing exercises on the mind and body, particularly its benefits in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dr. Brown gives over 100 lectures and courses every year. Since 1998, he has taught full-day courses on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as well as Mind-Body trainings for the American Psychiatric Association, other national and international conferences, veterans, and community service programs.

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Somiari Demm, MA/M.Div, CYT, CTS

Somiari is a certified trauma specialist, a certified yoga teacher, and a certified breath body and mind teacher. Her areas of concentration include children and adolescents, trauma, mindfulness, and spirituality. She is a passionate scholar-practitioner in the...

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field of clinical psychology who has divided her time betweenclinical practice, training, workshops, and consulting. As a mental health practitioner, she uses mindfulness cognitive behavioral therapy (MCBT) and other evidence-based practices to help adolescent and adult clients with a wide range of emotional, and behavioral issues.

Somiari has received extensive training in the treatment of addiction, mental illnesses, affect regulation, and trauma. In her consulting work, she has provided bullying, violence, and trauma training for elementary and residential schools. In addition to clinical practice, for 3 years she worked as a consultant counseling Chibok girls that escaped Boko Haram.Somiari has been interviewed by 60-Minutes, CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, BBC, and Aljareeza.

As a trauma thriver, her life experiences have fostered her love of, and dedication to the mental health field. Following the words of Gandhi, she believes that “purity of life is the highest and truest art.” Somiari also believes she is here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. Through her work, she is enriching the world through love, healing, and peace

 
 

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