The Seasons Trauma Informed Care Tract
Clinical evidence suggests that trauma has a significant impact on mental health and one’s overall ability to function in a healthy way (Briere, Kaltman and Green, 2008). Understandably, trauma survivors may well be engaged in substance abuse as well as other types of maladaptive/dependent behaviors (process addictions such as gambling, sex, shopping, etc.) in an attempt to adapt to the overwhelming disruption that trauma causes. By self-medicating the associated symptoms, there’s an agenda of coping, albeit and ironically one that becomes self-defeating.
There are many philosophies regarding the use of trauma informed interventions in a residential rehab setting. Seasons in Malibu takes into account the specific needs of the individual and insures a high level of stabilization while working through difficult processes. At Seasons, the client moves toward trauma resolution in a supportive social environment and establishes a much stronger positive prognosis for successful recovery.
Trauma can be witnessed events like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina, or one personally experienced such as various forms of child/adolescent abuse, assault and threats to life. These can bring on various disruptive symptoms: bad dreams and nightmares, depression, anxiety, attentional difficulties, disrupted relationships, shame and self-harm behaviors. When hurtful experiences have compounded over time, and in different contexts, the possibility of more deeply affected mental health concerns increases. The need to address such history becomes even more compelling for future mental health and stability, often seen when one may have experienced emotional childhood trauma in the form of parental verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
These types of harmful experiences are enduring and disruptive in so many ways, but need not be any longer. Perhaps it is an obvious substance abuse issue that has brought one to a rehab environment, but the underlying traumatic issues need to be addressed so that one can reclaim personal autonomy, self-efficacy and contentment.
The Effects of Trauma and Trauma Disorders
When a person has been exposed to a traumatic event, they may or may not develop various disruptive symptoms depending upon the amount and type of coping resources they had available to them at the time. Traumatic experiences can lead to the development of a trauma disorder, for instance Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can occur due to the type of trauma in combination with the amount of personal, relative, supportive coping resources available at the time. If the scale tips in the wrong direction, the likely experience could include anxiety, fear, anger and irritability, depression, mood swings, “checking out” and sleep disruption. These can be triggered by seemingly benign stimuli that provoke the intrusive experience of re-living one’s past trauma. Traumatic memories, like a flashback, feel real and insurmountable and friends and loved ones may find the resulting emotional mood swings difficult to understand. These are all common symptoms for one who has developed a trauma disorder.
The Treatment Schedule for Seasons Trauma Tract
A full psychological assessment specific to the evaluation of trauma is administered soon after the client’s admission. They will participate in a multitude of trauma informed interventions, including but not limited to EMDR (Van der Kolk, Spinazzola, Blaustein, Hopper, Hopper, Korn and Simpson, 2007), brief psychodynamic therapy, Brain Spotting and mindfulness. Specific groups, both in didactic format and process, will address issues of trauma. Interspersed in the weekly schedule are restorative activities including Yoga, sacral-cranial massage, and meditation sessions.
Trauma work is difficult, though very productive, and planned breaks to “catch one’s breath” are important. These frequently include beach walks, paddle boarding, hiking and physical exercise at the gym.
Meet The Seasons Trauma Treatment Team
Seasons in Malibu prides itself on having one of the most experienced and educated trauma treatment teams in the world. Please see our clinical staff descriptions and review the following level of experience when considering our trauma tract:
Dr. Mark Stahlhuth, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director
Dr. Stahlhuth has been working in residential settings for substance abuse for over 30 years. He is EMDR trained and has worked with numerous adolescent and adult patients that have suffered from many aspects of trauma. He was instrumental in developing and operating an adolescent residential program for abuse reactive teens, with victims of childhood sexual abuse and coordinating perpetrator/victim family reunification. He continues to work with the adult trauma population both in residential treatment as well as in his private practice.
Dr. Ashley Benjamin, M.D. Board Certified Psychiatrist
Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Dr. Benjamin was the medical director for the Oklahoma Veterans Administration Iraq/Afghanistan return program, and his experience in the diagnosing and treatment of trauma was paramount with the military population. He continues to be active with the VA. He meets with and follows all trauma clients on an ongoing basis, and also monitors the ongoing clinical benefits and potential side effects of all prescribed psychotropic medications.
Dr. Melissa Chissari-Noori, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Primary Therapist
Dr. Noori has extensive experience treating a diverse population, including those struggling with substance abuse and related disorders, survivors of childhood abuse, intimate partner violence and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Noori implements a wide variety of techniques including many evidence based interventions like EMDR, mindfulness therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic work. She tailors treatment to each individual client to assure their needs are met in a timely manner. Dr. Noori is a member of the international association of Trauma Professionals as well as the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA.).
Dr. Nancy Irwin, Psy.D. Primary Therapist
Dr. Irwin is EMDR trained and is a certified hypnotherapist. She utilizes all aspects of her training to address trauma issues, including co-occurring disorders and alcohol and substance abuse. Dr. Irwin entered the field of psychology specifically to work in trauma. She now has over 15 years’ experience treating victims of child sexual abuse and sex offenders and is a member of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Additionally, she is a Diplomat of the American Academy for Experts in Traumatic Stress through the National Center of Crisis Management. She was honored to speak at the first annual Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Symposium at Johns-Hopkins University with Dr. Fred Berlin.
James McNinch, MSW intern, Case Manager
James is a trauma informed care specialist at Seasons in Malibu. He earned his Master’s degree in social work from Arizona State University where he researched the origins of traumatic stress related to childhood attachment style as a Fulbright Scholar Candidate. James is trained in the trauma therapy EMDR, which is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense as a level I trauma effective treatment. James uses evidence based treatment modes to treat the effects of trauma as it relates to process and chemical addictions.
Jennifer Brady, L.C.S.W., Licensed Psychotherapist
Having completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, she then followed up with her graduate degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Ms. Brady has been trained in the evidence based trauma treatment protocol called, “Brain Spotting” and has successfully integrated this into her work with those clients who have significant trauma histories. She also has worked extensively in group and individual and family therapy, utilizing the expressive arts as a modality for treatment of substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.
Our client advocates, are highly trained in supporting clients as they proceed through their trauma resolution work. They are skilled in maintaining safety and experienced in the various aspects of helping trauma clients remain grounded in-between sessions and assisting them with strategies for stress reduction.
If you or a loved one is suffering with the effects of trauma, please call one of our caring admissions counselors now for a free, no-obligation and confidential conversation about how Seasons in Malibu can help.