Self-Regulation and Trauma

I’ve been thinking a lot about these two things today. I’ve met children during my time teaching that just really struggled to self regulate even though they were trying. Most of the time they managed. Most of the time they were surviving among peers and teachers who were waiting for the next time. And, the next time always arrived.

What I know, is that when the time arrived, they could not recognize that they needed to use a self regulation technique because they were in the throws of a anger/sadness/safety-loss episode. Most of those kids were survivors of trauma, and self-regulation for a trauma survivor is dependent on the absence of triggers. Being triggered, I’ve noticed through watching children, requires a response. If the response doesn’t happen immediately then that emotionally loaded gun is a walking explosive looking for another place to happen. And it will. That is why schools need spaces where a triggered child can process and counselors, if not psychologists are always in the building as contributing school staff.

And what about adults who are trauma sufferers? Vodka certainly isn’t the answer and neither are masking drugs, prescribed long-term. Trauma happens. In many guises. Many times, unpredictably. In fact a trauma survivor can traumatize another, we know that, but what have we done about it?

Step One: Canada is attempting to recognize, normalize, and de-stigmatize mental health.

Step Two: Mental Health specialists are beginning the process of educating the public on the many diverse mental health illnesses.

Step Three: Mental Health experts and the workplace are beginning to advocate for mental ‘fitness’, which may or more likely may not prevent mental illness from occurring.

These steps obviously aren’t enough to fix anything but they are a beginning.

A logical next step would be to ensure that counselling, psychologist and psychiatric visits are covered by our medical plans.

I would also argue that there is a huge need for many, many safe havens specific to particular mental illnesses, staffed with highly skilled psychologists, educators, alternative health practitioners, and psychiatrists who team together to help patients name, manage, and work through recovery. And because I’m focused on trauma sufferers, I would add that these havens need to be immersed in nature.

I’ve often thought, that if I were to land a $ windfall, I’d establish such a place as a model. A safe haven specifically for female sufferers of physical and emotional abuse. A place where they could rest, express, and right themselves. A place where tears, talk, and stillness were considered not just acceptable but important steps toward recovery. A place, when a valley hits and they need support, they could be welcomed back to.

If you have some thoughts, I would love to hear them….



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