Let me ask you a question.
Imagine you have a little daughter or niece (or if you have a daughter or niece, imagine her). She’s about 5, and one day she’s bitten by a dog. It was a random event with a random dog and is unlikely to ever happen again.
Now, though, she’s terrified of ALL dogs, and you notice her starting to avoid places she might run into dogs. She won’t go to her friend’s house who has a dog, she doesn’t want to play at the park anymore, and she wants to take the “long” route to school that avoids the backyard where a neighbor’s pet dog hangs out.
What would you do to help her?
Take a moment and think about it.
This is the story I use with my patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when I’m starting treatment with them, and if you’re like most of my patients, your answer is probably something like,
“I’d get her a puppy”
“I’d take her to the pound to play with some cute little dogs.”
And I’ll tell you what most people DON’T say, which is “I’d tell her to get new friends who don’t have dogs” or “I’d help her change schools” or “I’d round up all of the dogs in the neighborhood and send them on a bus to nowhere.”
We all understand intuitively that the way to overcome our fears is to face them. But what do most of us do in our everyday lives, instead? We avoid what we’re afraid of.
In the next few newsletters I’m going to be focusing on trauma, and how facing your fears with exposure therapy is an incredibly effective way to treat PTSD. I struggled with PTSD myself after my first cancer treatment, and it was only because I knew how to treat PTSD already (it was something I choose to specialize in during psychiatry residency) that I knew how to get the help I needed to overcome it.
Now I REALLY specialize in PTSD, having studied it, treated it, experienced it, been treated for it, and now sought out as an expert by patients struggling with it who need help.
P.S. — I know that in some way or another we all experienced a tremendous amount of grief over the last year. Grief is complex and can leave us feeling depleted, numb, and wanting to suppress or avoid any unpleasant thoughts or emotions. Through hearing many of your stories, feedback, and questions over the last 12 months, I created a new mini video course dedicated to overcoming grief.
Grief & Mourning: A Path To Wholeness After Loss is a 5-part video series that includes coping strategies, reflections, and wisdom to help you rediscover purpose and happiness in your life after loss (whether that be the loss of a person, the loss of a circumstance, or the loss of a relationship). When you buy the course, you’ll also receive my Holistic Guide to Grief workbook, reflection guides for each video, AND 2 bonus videos on overcoming anxiety and depression.
The course contents are valued at $400, but I’m offering it for just $29.99.