We are always looking for more resources. It’s almost like we can’t have enough to help us cope.
„Inside the box“-things that might be helpful to look into
- mindful exercise/sports
- trauma-sensitive yoga
- trauma-sensitive qi gong
- drama therapy
- dance therapy
- art therapy
- every kind of art used for therapy
- sand trays
- sensorimotor therapy
- music therapy/ drum circles
- laughter yoga
- theophostic prayer
- story therapy
- play therapy
- concentrative movement therapy
- imagery work
- systemic therapy
- trauma-specific self-defense classes
- relaxation techniques
- therapeutic breathing
- self-help groups
- singing groups (not necessarily a choir)
But these are not the only places to find help.
Here are some „outside the box“- ideas where you can find inspiration for better coping:
stands for „highly sensitive person“. It is not a diagnosis, but a popular concept. A lot of traumatized people will score high for HSP because it measures vulnerability, sensitivity and overstimulation as well as struggles to regulate yourself. It mostly covers the „too much“ of hyperarousal as well as intuition, a skill most trauma patients had to learn to survive. No surprise that the tricks that help HSP to cope will help you too.
(we have seen clearly traumatized people deny their PTSD to go after HSP instead. They all failed to heal. This can be an addition to your healing, it is not the solution. Ignoring the trauma will not heal it)
Many autistic people struggle to regulate their emotions within their window of tolerance. For different reasons than you, but still. Their struggles with over or understimulation, feeling „too much“ or „not enough“ are very similar. They too experience feelings of being estranged from the world or themselves like you might with dissociation. „Stim toys“ for autism make very good skills for dissociation and emotional regulation. Weighted blankets were first used with autistic kids before the positive effects for anxiety and PTSD were discovered.
Sensory processing disorder
Another concept that is not really a diagnosis, at least not yet. It describes different ways how body sensation might be altered, very similar to things that can be experienced with dissociation. All senses can be affected. Learning to live with an inability to feel your legs or know how long your arms are, altered perception of senses like hearing or seeing are problems dissociation and SPD have in common. Approaches to cope can be similar. (Again, this is just coping, not healing. Don’t neglect your grounding!)
Some people with PTSD and dissociation are first diagnosed with ADHD. That is because of the struggles to focus, bad memory performance and hypervigilance that come with PTSD. They also share impulsive behavior, struggles with regulating emotions and a restlessness that with PTSD is a form of hyperarousal. A lot can be learned from techniques people with ADHD use to calm themselves down and improve focus and memory.
No outside children required. If you do inner child work this might give you insight that can help you deal with your inner child in a healthy and nurturing way.
With DID it can provide solid and practical tools on how to raise your littles. We really enjoy reading „Loving our kids on purpose“ by Danny Silk and work with it all the time.
Therapy for children in general is a good place to learn helpful tools for a system.
Relationship guide books
Learn how to recognize unhealthy relationships and create healthy ones. No partner? Learn it for your system! It doesn’t always have to be trauma-specific. There is still a lot to learn from regular self-help books. Especially those that touch on healthy boundaries (“boundaries” Cloud/Townsend). Trauma patients are not the only ones who struggle with this.
It also helps to look into guide books on communication, especially with DID.
Maybe you are in chronic pain. Maybe you are in chronic emotional pain. Both is difficult to live with and increases risk of suicide. Learn how to cope with your inner pain by learning from others with physical pain. Especially learning how to breathe through it can be helpful.
We have already seen how DBT can help even when you don’t have BPD. Schema therapy could help you sort out your system and different roles/needs and how they are connected and influencing each other. If you adapt it, it can provide support for your inner team. A lot of self-regulation and relating to other people in a healthy way can be learned from approaches that are originally meant for PD’s.
Look into as many self-help books that cover daily life or self-care as you need to manage your life. There are so many techniques out there to make things easier, keep track of things, or teach basic skills. Learn all you can, then adapt it. Especially books for busy people that simplify life can help you to get organized.
Don’t forget to make up your own stuff.
Add something to a tool you already know. Combine tools you know. Make something up. Some of our best tools, like the little baahn’t go on or the light of truth or the way we do sand tray systemwork are our own inventions. A lot of tools therapists use today were once made up by a patient. You are a mental health professional when it comes to dealing with you. Don’t wait for some T to come and present you with all your solutions.
Where have you found helpful information that was outside the box? Let us know in the comments below!