Author Archive | Stephanie Book Koehler

trauma symptoms

Seeing Red Can Help You Manage Trauma Symptoms

At Cutting Edge Counseling, Somatic Therapy is one of the approaches we use to help people recover from trauma and restore resiliency to their nervous systems. While it takes a therapist years to become skillful with this therapy, there are simple tools that we teach our clients to use in their everyday lives to help them manage trauma symptoms. Somatic Experiencing allows us to access extraordinarily simple self-regulation skills that tap into our body’s ability to heal and balance itself. Self-regulation skills, also known as affect-regulation skills, help us manage…
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Is EMDR a Miracle Cure?

I get a lot of call these days from folks who have heard from a friend that a few sessions of EMDR helped them get over a trauma. Then they go on to outline long histories of repeated traumas and ask how long therapy will last. So, is it a miracle cure? My authentic short answer would be yes, no and sometimes. I’ve had many clients with single incident trauma (car accident, sexual assault, etc.) who had a couple of sessions and felt immeasurably better, no longer plagued by the…
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relationship counseling

The #1 Secret to a Happy Marriage

Have you ever made a list of what you’re looking for in a mate? Of course it would look different at different ages, but it might include steady job, great sex, smart, funny, romantic, curvy or studly, vegetarian or meat eater, easy going or exciting, your race/culture/religion/class. So what is the secret to a happy marriage? What’s the Research? Therapists have had a lot of ideas over the years about how couples should repair their relationships, such as using tools like active listening and “I” messages, but psychologist and researcher…
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Uneasy Rider

Mike DeStefano was still on the rise as a comedian when he died of a heart attack at 44. He was one of the finalists on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and definitely stood out from the pack. He wasn’t always the funniest, but there was something direct and heartfelt about him that made you root for him, and you could feel the weight of his personal story, always. He grew up tough in the Bronx. Had been addicted to heroin. Three months before his death, he spoke with his fellow…
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Upping Your Happiness Quotient

Did you know that: A full 40% of our happiness levels can be altered by our intentional behavior. Once basic needs are met, more money does not bring more happiness, People whose basic values are money, image and status are less satisfied, more depressed, more anxious and less vital than those whose values are personal growth, having close relationships and concern for others’ well-being. The country of Bhutan tracks the Gross National Happiness of its people and considers it more important than its Gross National Product. The positive psychology movement…
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What are the Secrets to Successful Aging?

A useful definition of wisdom is maintaining positive well-being in the face of challenges. Here are some of the components of wisdom: Emotional resiliency Positivity Self-insight Kindness towards self and others Generativity (giving back to others) Humility Ability to learn from experience Understanding that priorities and values, including your own, are not absolute Acceptance Gratitude. What we usually focus on when we think about satisfaction in later life is things like maintaining physical and mental health, volunteering, and having posititve relationships with others. But what about when life narrows: when…
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Emotions Don’t Deteriorate With Age

In an important contribution to emotion studies, a new finding indicates that older people have a heightened response to sadness which may reflect a greater compassion for other people and strengthen social bonds. Researcher Robert Levenson of UC Berkeley thinks the heightened sadness response might be beneficial for maintaining and strengthening social ties. Sadness “is a very functional emotion” ,he says. “It’s an emotion that really brings people towards us and motivates them to help us.” Earlier studies have reported that in day-to-day life, older people report experiencing more positive…
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Chocolate Kisses for Dementia

Isn’t it one of our biggest fears—losing our minds and being warehoused in one of “those places”? Don’t we all have the images in our heads of people drugged into silence, plunked in front of TV’s, forgotten? There’s a (slowly) growing movement to introduce effective, respectful and inexpensive innovations to nursing homes for people with dementia. The research suggests that creating positive emotional experiences, for patients who are in a continual state of confusion as to time and place, reduces behavioral problems and the suffering that underlies them. Beatitudes Campus…
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How Do We Change Memories for the Better?

We know that we can heal PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) by using EMDR and Somatic Experiencing to alter traumatic memories, but what is happening in the brain? How are we able to change a person’s relationship–their visual memory, sense memory, emotional response and belief system–to an event that is in the past? Scientists have now verified through clinical reearch what we trauma therapists have been doing for a long time. They established that old memories can be changed or reconsolidated, but only in a window of susceptibiity typically between…
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Out of Body Experience: Thank Your Brain

In our work as trauma specialists we often see people who have had an out-of-body experience during a traumatic event such as assault or sexual violation. They might say something like, “I wasn’t there. I floated up to the ceiling and looked down at my body.” We know that this is a not uncommon reaction to a situation of inescapable attack, but now we have a scientific explanation of what is happening in the brain. Dr. Brugger, a neuroscientist in Zurich, says, “The research shows that the [sense of] self…
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