Tag Archives: Posttraumatic stress disorder

Free Issue of Journal of Traumatic Stress

As a member of International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), I am able to offer you a link to a free issue of their journal, Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Click this link for the February issue page with links to download individual articles.  Several essays relate to PTSD treatment for veterans, at least one essay re: child maltreatment in Uganda.



Filed under counseling science, counseling skills, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychology, ptsd, trauma

What is Global Trauma Recovery Institute all about? Check out this video

At the beginning of 2013, Biblical Seminary launched Global Trauma Recovery Institute to train recovery specialists here and around the world. We’re small but thus far we have taken 20 students through 120 hours of continuing education, another 15 have just begun, and we are now preparing some of those first students to travel to Rwanda to observe and participate in trauma recovery training with local caregivers. Those students we serve are from or located in three continents plus the United States. In addition, we have represented GTRI in trainings in South Africa and Rwanda this year as well as engaged Christian counselors in Romania during one of their trainings. Our hope for 2014 includes more of this kind of training as well as our first immersion trip with students. Think we are just focused on the international scene? No! The “abuse in the church” video on the right hand bar of this site was sponsored by GTRI as well.

Maybe you wonder what we do and how we handle cross cultural challenges. Check out this short 3 minute video below to see our (myself and Diane Langberg) heart for raising up capable recovery specialists here and around the world as they follow Jesus into the world.

Want to support? After viewing the video, please consider supporting us with prayer and even tax-deductible donations. If you do choose to donate, this link will bring you to a donation page. You can give to the seminary’s general fund (without their support, GTRI would NOT exist!) or you can give a specific gift to GTRI. Just note that in the comments section. Your gifts will enable us to serve more international students and to begin the formation of learning cohorts on other continents!

[Note: Link on image is broken, click here to see the video]

GTRI Video Image1

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Filed under Biblical Seminary, christian counseling, counseling, counseling skills, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma

Is PTSD an internal problem causing social problems? Or the other way around?

I am finally getting around to read Ethan Watters’ polemic Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of American Psyche (Free Press, 2010). In this book he details the way America has exported not only its pharmaceuticals but have redefined mental health and disease. As the promotional material on the front cover says, the book “[uncovers] America’s role in homogenizing how the world defines wellness and healing.”

As I read the book, I find he is overly negative and pessimistic, even as he right points out some major bumbling when bringing Western mental health ideas to the world. And yet, consider this…

In chapter two he examines the way Western mental health providers flooded (bad pun but appropriate picture) Sri Lanka after the Tsunami to treat all the PTSD that would most definitely come to light. They “educated” the country about the symptoms of PTSD and trained caregivers and counselors to provide counseling interventions. When certain symptoms weren’t presenting widely, some helpers assumed victims must be living in denial.

Watters describes how one researcher began looking to see how Sri Lankans described symptoms of poor responses to trauma–instead of using a pre-determined set of symptoms. This researcher concluded that Sri Lankans experience trauma quite differently.

1. Sri Lankan PTSD symptoms were primarily physical in nature.

2. Sri Lankans did not identify anxiety, numbing, fear symptoms but rather identified isolation and loss of social connection as key to PTSD symptoms.

The root problem in PTSD? 

So, is PTSD internal or external? Intrapsychic or social? Most Westerners think of psychopathology in terms of the individual. A sick individual will likely find their social lives eroding and less supportive. It appears Sri Lankans think of pathology in terms of social connection which when broken results in some of the physical symptoms. So, does trauma cause psychological damage which in turn harms social networks…or does trauma harm social networks which in turn causes distress?

Your answer to this question likely reveals whether you see the world as a community or a group of individuals.  Or, your answer reveals whether you focus on universal human experiences or constructed human experiences.

One semi-helpful answer

My answer? Our minds, bodies, spirits and social networks are not disconnected. While distinct entities, we are far more connected than disconnected. To paraphrase the bible, if the eye is sick, the whole body is sick. Psychopathology does not reside only in one location, even if we can see it’s impact in one specific location (e.g., cells not functioning). We would not assume that seeing the destruction after a tornado would be all that is needed to find the cause of that same tornado. Whatever interventions we devise, we will not find a one-size-fits-all solution. For some, we will intervene first in the interior of their lives (medications, private counseling). For others, we will start with social reconnection.

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Filed under counseling, counseling science, counseling skills, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychology, ptsd

Revisiting trauma healing and recovery words

Some time ago I published a blog considering which words communicate a person’s process of recovery after a traumatic experience. The faculty blog over at http://www.biblical.edu has posted an edited (and better reading!) version of that blog. If you are intrigued by the way particular words shape the meaning and description of change, click here.

What words would you use to describe the process of recovery from a traumatic experience? Trauma healing? Trauma Recovery? Do these words convey an ongoing process or a completed task. Read more if you want to consider another word: integration–the concept of developing a new normal.



Filed under Abuse, counseling skills, trauma

What can veterans teach us?

If you read much about matters of politics and the military, you are well aware of the significant problem of PTSD in returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. While only 20-30% meet criteria for PTSD, all have been forever impacted. Rightly so, the military and traumatology researchers are expending oodles of money and time trying to understand (a) ways to reduce trauma symptoms and (b) improve resilience. Thankfully, we are seeing some helpful interventions being developed. However, there is much work to be done in perfecting treatments (finding ways other than just medicating vets into a stupor), ensuring that practitioners are competent, and improving societal acceptance of PTSD as a real disorder and not just something someone can just decide not to have.

And yet, these wounded and changed warriors have something to teach us about how we see ourselves and our world. Sometimes, it takes a life-changing experience to recognize serious blind spots. Even if you haven’t served in a combat setting, you can understand a bit if you’ve gone on a mission trip and returned with a different perspective and a sense you could no longer go about life the same way.

This article is a worthy read to consider what we can learn from those who were willing to sacrifice their lives, their futures for our safety. If you are indeed thankful for a vet’s service, take a minute to read it.

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Filed under Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Trauma Healing Equipping Week: February 2014

Biblical’s Global Trauma Recovery Institute is sponsoring the American Bible Society’s Trauma Healing Equipping seminar set for the Philadelphia area late February 2014. This is a week-long seminar that gives participants hands-on experience with the Healing Wounds of Trauma material. If you are local and would like to have experience with this Scripture engagement material (excellent for use in churches or lay counseling contexts) that explores both content and means to teach others, I highly recommend you check out this 2014-02 Equip PA Flier.

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The Mission of Trauma Recovery: Making the Church a Safe Place for Victims

A few months ago I asked readers to give me ideas about how the church could better serve victims of trauma experiencing PTSD and other
related symptoms. I did so as I was thinking about the presentation I would make to conference attendees in Potchefstroom, South Africa on October 18, 2013. So, I post these slides (in advance) for those who can’t join me there or who were there, but want a copy.

The Mission of Trauma Recovery South Africa

Conference link


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Filed under Abuse, Africa, christian counseling, Christianity, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, ptsd

Study Global Trauma Recovery Online!

Dr. Langberg and I are forming our next cohort interested in studying global trauma recovery principles and practice. If you have thought about getting such training, now might be a good time! Check out this link to our website where you can find descriptions/objectives of courses in the series as well as application materials (see links on the right of the hyper-linked page)


If you aren’t sure about doing the whole series, just try our introductory month-long course. You can get graduate credit gtc-logoor 40 hours of CEs for just $500. Here’s a few more details:



  • CEs are NBCC approved
  • Class runs November 9th to December 14th (time off for Thanksgiving)
  • Workload is about 10-12 hours per week (readings, discussion boards, brief response papers)
  • 4 required live 1 hour web conference to discuss material with the professors
  • Focus of the class is to explore psychosocial trauma in international settings



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Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling skills, Missional Church, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma

Addressing Trauma in International Settings: 3 Models in Dialogue

The 2013 AACC World Conference continues. Thursday, Drs Harriet Hill, Matthew Stanford, and Diane Langberg and myself will make the above titled presentation. Harriet will present an overview of the American Bible Society’s Trauma Healing Institute work of developing helpers who can help others re-engage Scripture around their traumas. That model is centered around the small but helpful book, “Healing Wounds of Trauma” (you can find this on bibles.com). Matthew’s work is the Mental Health Grace Alliance project of hope groups–structured support groups that have been tested in Bengazi IDP camps and other locations. Diane and I will describe the beginning work of the Global Trauma Recovery Institute which is designed to support the existing work by local caregivers.

Follow This slide show link for our slides.

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Filed under AACC, Africa, Diane Langberg, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

When trauma isn’t “post”?

Over the last year or so I have been doing some thinking about those experiencing ongoing trauma. We talk of PTSD, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, as a set of symptoms experienced after a traumatic event or time. But some people continue to live in ongoing trauma. I’m reading James Fergusson’s The World’s Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia. Early in the book, he talks of seeing “Sister Mary, a warm-hearted big-bosomed Ugandan in combat fatigues, dispensing medicines from a table in the ruins of the villa’s kitchen.” (p. 45). Sister Mary explains that there are two medical problems she sees. The one she treats most often is diarrhea. But, she says, the other problem she could not treat,

The people here are stressed, she explained. They are traumatized. They do not know where to turn.

You talk a lot in the West about PTSD-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder…but for these people there is no “post”. The trauma never ends.

What can people do when trauma isn’t post? Do they have to wait until the traumatic experience is in the past in order to deal with it? What can we do for others who remain in precarious and life-threatening situations? A friend raised this question when working with a group of refugees in a UN temporary camp. Some of the suggestions that were given this friend

1. Helping refugees find some way to hang on to small measures of empowerment: set up classes for children, build huts for those who are just arriving, develop “positions” for adults to fill so the camp runs smoothly and has a modicum of safety.

2. Reinstate religious and cultural traditions where possible

3. Practice corporate lament along with other worship activities

4. Allow people to tell as much story as they wish, whether by voice or artistic rendering

Notice that these are finding ways to cope by (a) making the moment better and (b) bearing witness, even if they can do nothing about the crisis. When a person feels some level of ability to respond to a difficult situation, that person often experiences less trauma than those who are unable to express any agency. Further, when they feel that they matter to others (someone listened to whatever they had to say), they tend to have less long-lasting PTSD symptoms.

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Filed under Abuse, Psychology, Uncategorized