Mental health expert sheds “light” on trauma victims

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Students of mental health as well as professionals in the field heard from a well-known specialist in the treatment of psychological abuse and trauma, in a seminar sponsored by UVSC conferences and workshops.

On Oct. 18, Dr. Bill Tollefson, Ph.D., came to UVSC to present "Lessons In Light," a seminar focused on the path a victim takes to survive trauma and abuse of any type.

Tollefson described the process for psychological trauma recovery from the theoretical viewpoint and from principles of incorporation therapy, that he developed himself. Incorporation therapy has proven to be very effective in helping those with trauma-based dissociative identity disorders. The principles of this therapy were discussed through the articulation of the six stages of the unfolding process for surviving.

Participants were taught the rapid reduction technique (RRT) developed by Tollefson to teach survivors how to take back the power they lost during their trauma and find wholeness within the self. The technique is brief, taking approximately five minutes. Participants learned how to perform the RRT and were able to experience its healing properties within themselves while observing a live demonstration.

Dr. Tollefson has traveled around the country lecturing and training professionals in his theories and treatment methods for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative disorders and trauma. He is also the center director of the Women’s Institute for Incorporation Therapy located in Hollywood, Flor. Women who suffer from symptoms of depression, grief, self harm, PTSD, and many other disorders are able to stay anywhere between 14 and 21 days to reduce and stabilize their internal crisis. Treatment is entirely voluntary.

Dr. Tollefson’s book Separated from the Light, presents his incorporation therapy principles and provides information on how to apply these concepts with survivors. Of the approximately 35 attendees, the majority were mental health professionals who will be able to use the highly effective techniques in their practice.

Up to 7 percent of the population may experience a dissociative disorder in their lifetime. These disorders usually develop in childhood as a survival mechanism when faced with trauma. As personal identity is still forming, children are more capable of stepping outside themselves and observing trauma as though it’s happening to a different person. A child who learns to dissociate in order to endure an extended period of his or her youth may reflexively use this coping mechanism in response to stressful situations throughout life. Any trauma can have this effect on a child whether or not they develop a mental illness.

These highly developed survival skills rarely develop in adulthood, but anyone who experiences trauma in any stage of life often become dysfunctional at some level within society.
 Learning to cope with trauma becomes especially more difficult as one transitions into adulthood, so college students who have experienced such trauma often find themselves in a more severe crisis.

As it is difficult for adults to cope with stress, it is crucial that the individual seeks help rather than suppressing their problems. Student Health Services offers therapy and guidance for various mental health related problems.