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Presentation for Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, August, 2015, San Diego, California


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This is: The Role of Self-Blame in Surviving Childhood Abuse

To get a one-one or organizational presentation contact Cathy Harris at

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Presentation for Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, August, 2015, San Diego, California

  1. 1. What Professionals need to know Cathy S Harris, LCSW San Diego, California August 25, 2015
  2. 2. Trauma-Informed perspective is first and foremost about “What happened to you?” Trauma-Informed approach is based in compassion and a recognition that all humans experience trauma in their lives. A professional who is “trauma-informed” understands the basic after-effects experienced by survivors.
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  5. 5. IBS: What is it? Why is it important? How can we help reverse it?
  6. 6. “I shoulda never had a birthday, dad.” Woulda Coulda shoulda
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  8. 8. Understanding IBS Assists Us To Become “Trauma- Informed” Assists our clients to recover and get on with their lives
  9. 9. CHILD: helpful defense ADULT: impedes maturity affects communication, relationships, goal completion FOUNDATION OF TREATMENT: empowers creates momentum
  10. 10. Locus of Control Shift: Colin Ross, MD Internalized oppression: Eduardo Duran, Ph D Internalized racism Stockholm syndrome
  11. 11. Why? It’s a universal experience to take on responsibility. But, what purpose is served?
  12. 12. It’s not your fault It’s not your fault and here’s how believing that has helped you survive. Trauma aware professional Trauma-Informed professional
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  14. 14. Piaget: Egocentrism Surviving adults: when overwhelmed resort to magical thinking to gain a sense of control and to avoid feeling completely vulnerable
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  16. 16. It’s All About Resources
  18. 18. Brain development, social, educational, physical & economic opportunities are not available MAGICAL THINKING—child’s sole resource Hard-wired for survival: a necessary illusion of control
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  20. 20. Adult, out of 10 siblings, was not abused by father “I should have gotten A+ on report cards” Asked, “Can you give A+ on your students’ reports?” Answer, “No, but I should have gotten A+s.” Adult school teacher’s expression “I was not good enough” for the abuser. As adult: robbed at gunpoint, wasn’t raped. This client’s expression? “I’m not even good enough to be raped by a criminal.”
  21. 21. From “I’m bad, I must be causing you to hurt me” the child reasons “If I am ‘good enough’ maybe you won’t hurt me” The adult exclaims “If only I hadn’t left the house when I did, I wouldn’t have gotten into a car accident”… “If only I hadn’t built my house in that field, the tornado wouldn’t have destroyed it” When victimizers say “you made me” (hurt you)— they reinforce the illusion that the victim could prevent the abuse by being “good enough” in some way
  22. 22. It gave the child-victim an illusion of control; this sense of power, though false, allowed the child to survive, to make sense of circumstances that made no sense The primary reasons the adult continues to engage in use of IBS is for avoidance of feelings (perceived “bad” feelings), gain a sense of control, continue attachments to those who may have/they perceive have hurt them
  23. 23. Case Study: “FU, I’m just a screw-up!”
  24. 24. Copyright United Artists, 1995
  25. 25. I’m a bad person I might as well use I used That makes me a bad person No one loves me
  26. 26. Increases compassion Allows for appropriate detachment (especially with Complex PTSD clients) Provides structure for therapy Provides explanation for “resistance” Can help address Vicarious Traumatization
  27. 27. Copyright Pixar Animation/Distributed by Disney Picture, 2015
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  29. 29. you can’t get away from the art of therapy Colin Ross, MD
  30. 30. • Cognitive work • Grief work • Mindfulness/Meditation • Self-Compassion • Expressive work • Education • Identify “IBS” moments and events • Therapeutic relationship • Positive affirmations • Somatic work
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  32. 32. Hear the story at
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