3 Ways to Grow Spiritually We Don't Hear Enough About {Guest Post for Relevant}

Several years ago, I started to feel stuck as a therapist. I found many clients desired change, but instead, continually cycled through self-sabotaging behaviors or felt suffocated by shame.

“What is it?” They wondered to me aloud.

Don’t I want it enough? Am I not praying enough? Not enough faith?

I observed traditional talk therapy was helpful to an extent, but many people knew all about change and yet didn’t know how to experience it. I also discovered this was no different for Christians than it was for my non-Christian clients. In some instances, it even meant Christians were harsher toward themselves because they believed they should be healed already. 

Often, their self-critique was relentless.

After continuing in my own personal growth as a person and therapist, I began seeking additional training in trauma and body-centered perspectives. Here is what I found: People don’t actually want to be stuck! 

(Surprising, I know.)

Instead, many folks are caught in the well-worn neural pathways of a brain and body that doesn’t know how to change. Often, people find themselves coping with situations the best way they know how.

Click here to keep reading over at Relevant...

Interview: EMDR {On the Weary Christian}

I'm privileged to have been interviewed recently by Christian Heinze over at The Weary Christian: 


If you haven’t heard of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) you soon will, and if you have, you might have tried it, and if you’ve tried it, it could have helped change your life.

Psychotherapists use EMDR as a way of treating a patient’s traumatic memories — among other things — and it’s pretty much the hottest thing on the block right now. As of 2012, there were over 60,000 trained EMDR clinicians and at least 2 million treated patients. And the field keeps growing and growing.

So what is it?

I asked EMDR specialist, writer, and speaker, Aundi Kolber, to tell me a little bit more about how this relatively new treatment is helping patients process traumatic memories, depression and anxiety. And why Christians shouldn’t fear it.

Read on…

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WC: What is EMDR?

AUNDI KOLBER:  EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. It was originally discovered and researched by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987.

Essentially, when something traumatic or disturbing occurs, we often don’t process it like normal memories. This is because it becomes stuck in our nervous system with all the original pictures, noises, smells, and feelings.

Since it is stuck in our bodies, it can easily be triggered by new events that remind us of the original event. This can be the reason for a lot of discomfort and negative emotions in our lives that we can’t seem to control. These intense feelings are really the emotions connected with the original experience being triggered.

EMDR utilizes eye movements or other bilateral stimulation (BLS) to stimulate both sides of the brain and body intermittently and help the nervous system become unlocked.

Click here to keep reading at The Weary Christian.

When the Wound is Healing {Father's Day Re-Visited}

Three years ago I wrote one of the most difficult posts of my life. In it, I describe why Father’s Day is deeply painful for me. Mostly, because my own dad isn’t, can't be, in my life. While this continues to be the healthiest choice for me, it is still tinged with grief.  

You see, when a person chooses to harm us even when we ask them to stop, a relationship is no longer possible. And so, it's been for me.

 Quote by: Maggie Kuhn 

Quote by: Maggie Kuhn 

But here is what strikes me today: awe at the possibilities of healing. I am humbled and grateful at the resilience embedded in our DNA by a God who never, ever leaves us or gives up on us. Almost as if overlooking a canyon just traversed, my gratitude is visceral. My body has kept the score of my healing and it's been worth it. The journey is scary and beautiful. It has been fraught with hardship, but oh my, it's priceless.  

What I’ve learned in just these three years is so vast, it’s feels like a decade instead of just a few years. Mostly what I’ve learned in a new way, is how much it matters that we let light into our wounds. I've learned too, how connection and gentleness is the stuff of life. I’ve learned that even when we think our process is over--that it’s as healed as it will ever be—it’s not.

I actually adore this reality. I am grateful my thirty two year old self wasn’t as healed then as she would ever be. Indeed, there is more for me, and I believe for you too.  

*

I have stepped back from blogging as much as I did a few years ago, primarily out of the need to stay sane, manage tiny people, and pursue some other projects I’m passionate about. But when I think about Father’s Day, about how many of us carry the shame of our parents, it cracks me open a bit, and this is why I write today.

For you, dear ones, the ones who don’t know yet—who have not yet experienced the balm of healing--I offer you this:

You are not the words spoken over you in anger.

 You are not the shame you were given.

 You are not too much.

 You are not too little.

 You are not other’s mistakes.

 You are not the mistakes you’ve made.

 You are not the trauma you’ve lived.

 You are not the trauma in your body.

 You, magnificent you, are the gorgeous handprint of a God who loves you madly.

 You are the resilient, fireball who is still here; who hasn’t given up.

 You are the valuable soul who is in process.

 You are cared for + known.

 You are deserving of kindness + worth second chances.

 You are worth dying for.

 You are right on time for your redemption—not early + not late.

 You, magnificent you, are beloved.  

Grace + Peace,

Aundi

3 Ways to Support Someone Recovering From Trauma {Guest Post for Relevant Magazine}

In my days as a novice therapist, I was terrified to work with trauma survivors. I had been given tools and plenty of support from supervisors, sure. But as a trauma survivor myself, I worried I wouldn’t support them adequately. My greatest fear was to re-traumatize people. Graciously, in the decade since, God has utilized therapy, relationships and His goodness to mend me and grow my confidence to walk with the wounded. 

Lately, there is no shortage of news regarding survivors of trauma and abuse. Just recently Time magazine named the “silence breakers” of the #MeToo movement as their person of the year, and as I write, fires plague Southern California. While sexual assault is finally making headlines, it’s not new, nor are the multiple ways people can be traumatized. 

 Picture via Relevant Magazine 

Picture via Relevant Magazine 

Defining Terms

But what exactly do we mean when we say trauma, or more accurately, traumatic stress? According to leading researchers like Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine, it’s when a person’s natural threat response is activated in their body, but their ability to cope becomes overwhelmed and ultimately stuck in a hyper/hypo vigilant mode.

Thus, the traumatic event(s) become “stuck” in a person’s body instead of being stored as a normal memory. This inability to properly integrate the event into the narrative of their life is what results in symptoms such as flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, physical ailments or emotional volatility.

According to The Sidran Institute, 70 percent of Americans will experience at least one major trauma in their life and 20 percent of those folks will go on to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As Christians who want to love well, it’s vital we recognize our role in supporting the hurting within and without our walls.

Click here to keep reading at Relevant Magazine.