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Childhood Trauma and Neurofeedback

The Impact Of Childhood Trauma

The Impact Of Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can take 20 years of a person’s life. People can be consumed with fear and faint. Steven the disciple appears to go to sleep right before he was stoned to death. We can say now, that was probably a Vagal reaction, fainting instead of sleep.

The Polyvagal Theory

The Polyvagal Theory ties heart rate viability (HRV) with the autonomic nervous system; plus it tells us about three switches (reactions) now instead of only the two (flight and freeze ). Dr Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, tells us the vagus nerve and autonomic nervous system has a master switch called  “social engagement”, this lead switch hands reactions over to the Autonomic nervous system (ANS) if the vagus interprets (fear), unknown to thought processes. Then it activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to activate flight or fight, a “danger response”. If the vagus senses “life threat” the third switch activates the parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) and shutdown begins.  Caution your clients that they can also vacillate  between the two SNS and PSNS.  This happens a lot in therapy and in social interactions. So we can see which of the two ANS they are struggling with.  Are they a tiger, turtle or a snapping turtle? The answer is “Yes”.

Now we can see that having a “gut feeling” bares more truth than we thought. The second brain, the longest nerve in the body, the vagus nerve tells the brain stem to take action by passing thought processes. The vagus can react quicker than the”mind”. The ANS’s’ job is to allow one to enjoy life and to keep you alive, a  program loaded on your hard drive before birth.

If fear exists you have the Vagus Nervous System (VNS) causing social disengagement, flight, or shutdown but with safety (trust) social engagement you have  community not disengagement, play not fight,  and relaxation not shutdown by the ANS. So we should fear “fear”.

As a marriage and family therapist and former combat vet, I started to focus on trauma in the combat PTSD families or how the family is contaminated by the behavior of a trauma person’s-unknown vagus ANS reactions.  Something a person is not aware of via the frontal cortex. In other words, the trauma memory sets up a persons behavior and they don’t know “what or why”. Like a wolf, they bark at the family, not knowing the cause.

The ACE Survey – Childhood Trauma Questionnaire

This led me to the ACE survey, a childhood trauma assessment. Those  significantly traumatized can develop biological problems and lose twenty years of life. I connected the dots by studying  Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory.  Insight therapy, my career  field was coming to a standstill, my clients and I were stagnating in PTSD recovery. I soon validated insight therapy was detrimental to helping most forms of trauma clients. The release of cortisol can be easily activated because the brain is sensitized by trauma and each new trauma event has a larger adverse reaction to the next trauma event. It seems the cortisol faucet is not shut down or we have a damaged neuro system. Trauma Memory (TM)  behavior can be activated by thought/insight quickly.

Treating childhood trauma ( Dr. Van der Kolk uses the term development trauma disorder), unfortunately it is not adopted into DSM yet. There are two issues needing correction: Neuro damage and negative reality development, the child learns to accept abuse as normal.

If you use the ACE Survey to assess childhood trauma, you will likely run into having to notify the authorities. But utilizing the ACE on an adult, you can detect his or her trauma history which leads to the sensitization of the brain neuro system.

Treating a vet who thought he had combat PTSD, had me convinced, but after assessing all his combat situation he was devastated by finding out about his wife’s affair while he was deployed. Thus the cultural form of combat trauma, was highjacked by relationship trauma. It appeared as if the horror of war took a back seat to his relationship trauma but cortisol doesn’t care. The requirement to stay on high alert takes it’s toll (stress), while addressing other life matters. Thus constant stress can lead to an event that causes TBI, but the event by itself wouldn’t necessarily seem to have that much impact.

Now my theory is the social engagement switch can be called the “faith or trust” switch. When we lose hope, faith, and or trust, where are we? Victims of rage and gut issues.

IASIS MCN Micro Current Neurofeedback

Fortunately for me, a former PTSD/TBI client directed me to Iasis MCN Neurofeedback. My understanding is Iasis MCN Neurofeedback can do the detoxing, thank goodness, and some therapy will be required to reset reality in DTD, and change the hierarchy in chaotic families.

As Iasis MCN Neurofeedback cleans out some hormone contaminated neuro pathways, it helps reset the CNS and it’s sub systems. Our journey appears to be how can we assist and treat the damage that the high octane cortisol has left behind? I think frequencies do the scrubbing  to clean the damaged neuro endocrine system. They are using modulated music to correct those with ear muscle dtysfunctioning (autism) and Iasis MCN Neurofeedback could be doing the same.

Relationships sustain life when they are functional.  Adrenaline keeps us alive when events or relationships give us danger or life threat.

My research pointed to the Polyvagal therapy instead of talk therapy. Yoga, Feldenkrasis, relaxation techniques, deep breathing, Emotion Freedom techniques (tapping), acupuncture, cold water exposure, throat vibrations (singing, gargling, Mongolian throat singing), praying and others are bypassing thought processes and assisting the vagus nerve reset and control what “fear” (the automatic reaction trigger) sets in motion, so social engagement, trust needs to be addressed. It’s my belief Iasis MCN Neurofeedback can do this quicker but these homework tools can supplement IASIS just as the IR light therapy.

PTSD Therapy Case Study

Case study: I helped a child correct most of his behavior problems, even after PTSD therapy from another source failed. I was tasked to restore faith in therapy gone wrong, another form of trauma. It didn’t take long to realize he was trapped in a chaotic environment of no trust and understanding, my pleas to suspend corporate punishment went unheard. I assessed the  clients environment, using the ACE survey and the Global Assessment of Relational  Functioning (GARF). This addresses systemic change measures instead of just behavioral change. I tasked the guardian to contact the school to determine if they assess for trauma and do they know how to interact with a trauma child. The negative answer led to switching  to a school that treat childhood trauma differently. The child went from failing all classes to some “A”s in the new school. 

Caution: As providers we must realize that our facial expressions are signaling the client to be fearful or not, their trust factor is contaminated. It’s not only what we say, sometimes it is “how we say it”, that sets the therapeutic process in motion. Everyone’s ANS reads another’s facial expressions, but we don’t see our own facial expression, it is set by our ANS. Our duty face maybe disturbing to the client but our compassion face, offers hope.

First responders and Iasis MCN Neurofeedback providers can create hope in someone by expressing compassion in their face, Don’t let the client’s trauma face, body language set your facial reaction, note it and watch their body, face language changes during your treatments.  I see the change about halfway through the IASIS session. It is worth helping someone feel better and live longer. To see a child’s face turn flat from trauma to a thankful grin is truly priceless. Helping a parent is helping a child that becomes a parent one day that builds trust in another child.

Should we look into family required treatment?  I trained our juvenile courts to accept this challenge. Will they? I was only able to point to the pathway, the culture usually resist a homeostasis change. Something else to chew on. Correcting the hierarchy in dysfunctional trauma families is another story that needs to be told but let’s chew and digest this first. Collaboration among Iasis providers will bring improved practices.

Dudley Chewning EdD, LMFT, ICP

Dudley Chewning EdD, LMFT, ICP

Retired combat pilot, clinical member of AAMFT. Mental health director for the following: Medical Reserve Corps NW La., VOAD NW La., PTSD TBI counseling Center NW La., and Katrina Rita evacuation shelter Shreveport La. My current challenge is collaborating with providers on the advantages of IASIS MCN Neurofeedback over medication and insight therapy.

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Blog posts are not the opinion of IASIS Technologies International and its providers. No treatment for healing neurological conditions has been expressed or implied.

DISCLAIMER: This website does not contain medical advice. IASIS MCN is not a medical treatment, rather the retraining of the brain and nervous system. The information, including but not limited to text, videos, images and other material contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge about IASIS MCN. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you believe you have a medical condition, please first, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Video and written success stories contained on this site are the sole experience of those individuals shown or having written them, and are not the opinions of IASIS Technologies, Inc. Never self-medicate or choose to discontinue taking medicine without discussing your medical care with your doctor.

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