All of us have shouldered the burden of emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual distress in our lives. I've experienced it myself and as a Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology. Yet, rather than be compassionate towards ourselves for the pain and suffering we so valiantly carry, we berate ourselves for never achieving an absolute state of healing. The reality is that healing is a cyclical process that we are equipped to address.
For example, when I was a trainee I conducted therapy with children, adolescents, and adults. Quite often they would express frustration over dealing with the same mental health problems for years. Compare this to how we react when we get the flu. None of us say, " God damn it! Why am I getting the flu again? I thought I was done with this shit when I was five." No. Rather we recognize that external conditions have compromised our immune system and we must remedy it with appropriate intervention. The same line of thought applies to mental illness or other forms of distress that impact us. Just as the earth takes its revolution around the sun, psychopathology and nonpathological stressors can reappear in our lives. Luckily, when it does we can address it with healing tools, or even better, preventative measures.
The following exercises are adapted from the Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency (ARC) model. The ARC model was created as a psychotherapeutic intervention to address the multifaceted sequelae of trauma among children and adolescents (Blaustein & Kinniburgh, 2010). It is based on the theory of complex developmental trauma, which pertains to repeated and protracted involvement or exposure to harmful, interpersonal experiences, beginning in early childhood (van der Kolk, 2005). Due to limited research, the ARC model is categorized as a promising/emerging treatment (Arvidson et al., 2011). However, the model is based on empirically supported theories and research related to: attachment, lifespan development, trauma, and neurobiology (Kinniburgh, Blaustein, Spinnazola, & van der Kolk, 2005). Some of us may not be within the population for which the ARC model was designed. However, the underlying theories from which the model was derived apply to and have useful implications for a wide range of ages, developmental stages, and presenting issues.
Exercise I: Steps for Emotional Definition
Exercise II: Steps for Emotional Management
When you have completed exercises I and II please put your responses in a place that you can easily access in times of need. You have now complied a set of resources that you can modify and expand, accordingly.
As we go through the cycle of healing, we realize that revisiting adversity does not have to be redundant and leave us feeling helpless. It can be empowering, by enabling us to utilize our skills and acquired knowledge for restoration and progress
Arvidson, J., Kinniburgh, K., Howard, K., Spinazzola, J., Strothers, H., Evans, M., … Blaustein, M.E. (2011). Treatment of complex trauma in young children: Developmental and cultural considerations in application of the ARC intervention model. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 4(1), 34-51. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19361521.2011.545046
Blaustein, M.E., & Kinniburgh, K.M. (2010). Treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents: How to foster resilience through attachment, self-regulation, and competency. New York, NY: The Guilford Press
Kinniburgh, K. J., Blaustein, M., Spinazzola, J., & van der Kolk, B. A. (2005). Attachment, self-regulation, and competency. Psychiatric Annals, 35(5), 424-430. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.3928/00485713-20050501-08