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NAMI Family-to-Family Course 2009 1 Trauma Learning By Joyce Burland, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "NAMI Family-to-Family Course 2009 1 Trauma Learning By Joyce Burland, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 NAMI Family-to-Family Course Trauma Learning By Joyce Burland, Ph.D.

2 NAMI Family-to-Family Course Principles of Adult Education Assumption of genuine curiosity about the subject offered. Why would they sign up if they weren’t interested? Assumption of willingness to strive to master a comprehensive range of subject material. This is a 12-class course, so I’m certain they will want to take everything in. Assumption of “learning readiness”. Well, after all, they ARE adults. Teacherly concern about class subjects understanding everything that’s offered in the course. It’s the teacher’s job to “drill it home”. Teacherly worry about people in class who are quiet, or “not getting it”. No stragglers, or I’m not fulfilling my teacher role. Adults have different learning styles; presentation must be varied to accommodate these differences. It helps to have various teaching aids like PowerPoint presentations and videos.

3 NAMI Family-to-Family Course DEFINITION OF A CATASTROPHIC STRESSOR An unanticipated event No time to prepare for it No previous experience about how to handle it Has a high emotional impact Involves threat or danger to self or others

4 NAMI Family-to-Family Course th Century Theories of Family Blame Oedipus Complex Overprotective mothers Cold, indifferent mothers Schizophrenogenic mothers Dysfunctional family systems Marital schism Marital skew

5 NAMI Family-to-Family Course th Century Theories of Family Blame (Cont.) Communication deviance Double binds Sabotage, enabling Expressed emotion

6 NAMI Family-to-Family Course How Families Describe the Traumatic Experience of Witnessing Breakdown into Brain Disorder The “language of family pain”: Catastrophe Torture Anguish Horror / Fear Nightmare

7 NAMI Family-to-Family Course Catastrophe-A dramatic change for the worse in personality, behavior, appearance, and response of someone who is beloved to us; families watch helplessly as this individual "slips away" and alters in bizarre and disturbing ways. This is like a horror movie, where the hero/heroine is utterly transformed by some unseen, monstrous force. Torture-The indescribable agony of watching a loved one go through relentless pain and suffering without being able to make it stop; the absolute panic when they refuse your assistance, reject your help, resist your protection at the time when they need it most.

8 NAMI Family-to-Family Course Anguish-Paranoia, delusions, grandiosity by definition mean a critical loss of insight; the person with a severe brain disorder cannot recognize that s/he is seriously incapacitated; they often turn on those trying to help them, attack them angrily and/or blame them for their difficulties. Horror/Fear-A dread that, in this state, the ill person will do something mortally dangerous to self or others because they are so completely out of control, so defenseless against psychotic impulses, so demoralized by what has happened to them Nightmare-When, in desperation, we seek help for our stricken relative, we are denied information; we are often perceived as causing the problem, then ostracized and isolated; the more we try to assist, the more we are branded as "meddling", "overprotective", "unfit".

9 NAMI Family-to-Family Course Psychic Trauma Impact Unbearable compulsion to “undo” Frozen in time: Protective unwillingness to move forward A Fall from Grace into painful psychic isolation Silencing by shame and remorse Incessant fear of reenactment A constant flood of feelings

10 NAMI Family-to-Family Course How do people dealing with stress learn in spite of continuing trauma? Narrow, personal focus Reliance on instinctive danger-alert cognitive scanning Looking for specific pieces of information to complete a partially formed mosaic of understanding Crisis conditioning: Wary of danger / open to opportunity/ resistant to learning “too much” THIS IS NOT A GROUP YOU REACH THROUGH CONVENTIONAL ADULT EDUCATION!

11 NAMI Family-to-Family Course Unique Features of the Family-to- Family Course COURSE GOAL: To guide family members to emotional understanding, healing, insight and action. TEACHER’S PRIMARY PURPOSE: To convey sensitivity to, and understanding of, the pain and trauma present in the life of every class participant. INTRODUCE FAMILIES TO AN EMPATHETIC COMMUNITY: No one understands like my teachers, the friends I am making in this class, and NAMI.

12 NAMI Family-to-Family Course Unique Features of the Family-to- Family Course (Cont.) NO CONCERN ABOUT INFORMATION SELECTION OR RETENTION. We work to lower defenses to taking in frightening information, and helping family members gain confidence that they can learn more and handle more. FOCUS ON INTERNAL PROCESS : Letting families move at their own emotional pace means we do not push the “intellectual learning” (head) part of the course, but rather pay attention to the integration of self- selected knowledge and “emotional understanding” (heart).


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