Pathways to Healing: Trauma, Addiction, and Recovery Strategies
🌟 The premiere episode of Season 3 of the “Heal Your Roots Podcast” 🎧 delves deep into the complex and often intertwined worlds of trauma, substance use disorder, and the transformative journey of recovery. Esteemed guest Laura Schneider, LSW brings a wealth of experience and personal insights that promise to enlighten and inspire. 💡
In this riveting episode, Laura, Clinical Supervisor at Valley Spring Recovery Center in New Jersey, shares her unique perspective, shaped by her background in nursing and social work, on the cyclical nature of trauma and substance use. She opens up about her own battles with drug addiction, offering an honest and relatable narrative that highlights the importance of understanding and empathy in the healing process. Her story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of therapy to change lives. 💪🏼💖
The heart of addiction treatment is explored, examining the relationship between trauma and addiction. Laura illuminates how often trauma precedes addiction, leading to a “pressure cooker” situation where individuals may turn to substances as a coping mechanism. This discussion is particularly pertinent as it navigates the challenges of the holiday season 🎄, a time that can trigger memories and emotions for those with trauma.
The complexities of treating trauma and addiction are discussed, underscoring the significance of tailoring therapeutic approaches to individual needs. Innovative methods like inner child work and art therapy 🎨 are explored, offering paths to healing and self-care beyond traditional therapeutic narratives.
The episode takes a hopeful turn as it discusses the importance of joy and creativity in the recovery process. Laura and host Kira Yakubov emphasize how integrating joy and playfulness into therapy can facilitate healing on both internal and somatic levels. 😊🌈
Finally, the effectiveness of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy for trauma is delved into, discussing its process and how it helps individuals reprocess traumatic memories. The episode concludes with practical advice for managing triggers and cravings during the holiday season, including setting boundaries and having a backup plan for challenging social situations. 🛡️🧘
This episode is a must-listen for anyone touched by the issues of trauma and addiction, or for those seeking a deeper understanding of these complex conditions. Tune in for an enlightening conversation that sheds light on the path to healing and recovery. 🌟
If you want to get in touch with Laura, she is available at [email protected] or learn more about Valley Spring Recovery Center here.
Episode Chapters and Outline
Trauma, substance use disorder, and recovery with a therapist. 0:00
Addiction treatment, trauma, and recovery. 4:44
Trauma and addiction treatment. 9:51
Trauma, therapy, and inner child work. 14:06
The importance of joy and creativity in healing from trauma and addiction. 18:54
Boredom, loneliness, and trauma therapy. 23:17
EMDR therapy for trauma and its effectiveness. 27:51
EMDR therapy and holiday season triggers. 32:20
Expand for Podcast Transcript
Trauma, substance use disorder, and recovery with a therapist
Laura Schneider 0:00
But you’re not actually healing from anything. So these things are going to keep coming up. And you’re going to keep using substances more and more to kind of treat the mental health symptoms that come with trauma. And then, as the addiction is getting worse, you’re probably going to use more and then you’re going to just be numbing things until the point it kind of explodes. Eventually, it’s like a pressure cooker, the more pressure you put eventually it’s going to, it’s all going to come collapsing down.
Kira Yakubov 0:27
Welcome back to Heal Your Roots Podcast. In today’s episode, we have Laurie Schneider, discussing the cyclical nature between trauma and substance use disorder. Laura shares great insight and tips on how to work through this holiday season. If you or a family member, you know, may be struggling with substance use disorder, you’re going to want to tune in. Thanks so much. So I’m so excited for today’s episode. Laura, thank you so much for joining us today.
Kira Yakubov 0:54
We can kind of jump right in, can you share a little bit about kind of how you got into the field and into the world of therapy? Sure. Thank you for having me. First of all, I’m very excited to be here. I got into what I do now in a very long, roundabout way. But I’m very glad I got here.
Laura Schneider 1:15
I started when I went to school, I thought about what do I want to do with my life. So I started taking classes for nursing. And part of that is you take prerequisites, and I started taking psychology classes. And something about learning about how the mind works and how people are was so fascinating to me that I changed my major. I studied psychology. And after I got my bachelor’s degree, then came another period of okay, well, what do I want to do with this degree? How do I want to use this? So I started working with caseworkers I was a case aide. And in that work, I decided I loved working with people, I loved the challenges that they had and trying to help them as much as I could. So I learned about a master’s in social work. And I really liked that degree, because it opened a lot of doors, it was very personal, you could really work with a lot of different populations, in different settings, doing different things. And that really intrigued me. So while I was getting that degree, I started really, really loving the classes where we talked about the therapeutic interventions and how to be a therapist. So that was always my long term goal.
Laura Schneider 2:27
During that time, however, I got very into drug addiction, it started very innocently and eventually spiraled pretty out of control. So my career path kind of took a backseat for a bit. Once I got help, I went to a place where a lot of the therapists were openly in recovery. And I remember sitting there thinking, Oh my God, I want to do the same thing. I have this degree already, I have this real world experience. I know what this is like. And so that became my new long term goal. And then once I started doing that kind of work, working with alcohol, alcoholics and addicts, and providing therapy for them, I realized that this was always what I was meant to do. It was the purpose that I was given, and I feel so fulfilled. It’s a very challenging job. But it’s one that I find so rewarding. I absolutely love it. Even on the really hard days where so many things are going wrong, I still very much know that this was my calling and why I was put here.
Kira Yakubov 3:30
Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. I know, it’s not easy for us to always kind of share vulnerable moments of our own personal life, especially as a therapist. And I think that a lot of our own personal experiences, whether it’s within our own life or family or things that we’ve gone through kind of informed why we choose particular specialties, or who we want to work with. And I’m I mean, I’m curious of how that, I’m sure really helps your clients feel like they can relate to you knowing that that’s something that you’ve gone through as well. And here to help them move through it. I
Laura Schneider 4:05
think it does. A lot of a lot of the clients I work with do appreciate the honesty, I don’t share a lot of details about it. But I think just knowing sure that I come from a similar background really does help.
Addiction treatment, trauma, and recovery
Laura Schneider 4:19
I know for myself, it helped, because I did try treatment a couple of times before my last attempt. And I didn’t know for sure if any of the the therapists were in recovery or not. And I know in the field of social work, it really shouldn’t matter, right? We were taught not to share too much about ourselves because it’s not about us. It’s about the people we work with. I just feel that this is a very unique population. And I think that having that degree of familiarity and understanding between us really helps the therapeutic relationship.
Laura Schneider 5:06
I value their opinion and they’re also in recovery. So they got it there. Maybe I can get it to, or like, they’re not just telling me something that they read in a textbook, they’re kind of giving me real advice. And I find that it really helps, especially
Laura Schneider 5:21
in our, you know, our people are very resistant to change at the beginning. So I think having having good role models helps. Absolutely.
Kira Yakubov 5:30
And so what kind of different settings have you worked in, in terms of with clients like inpatient or outpatient, what that’s been like for you and your experience?
Laura Schneider 5:41
For substance use disorder, I’ve worked in outpatient, I also have a background in mental health therapy, just strictly mental health where I did outpatient services as well. I’ve worked in a group home for developmentally disabled children, I’ve worked with CPS not, you know, going to family court. So I’ve been in a lot of different outpatient settings. And so when you are at your current placement right now, at Valley springs recovery, is that an outpatient facility, that’s an outpatient, okay. And so the clients you’re seeing, are they actively in addiction, or they’re through the recovery process.
Laura Schneider 6:21
We’re getting them in the early stages. So some people come in, and it’s their first time and it’s the early days, and they don’t know what to expect. We have some people who this is not not their first rodeo. So they, they kind of have an idea of how recovery kind of works. So you know, they come in with some background in trying to get help, I find we have people that come in, in the very beginnings of recovery. So they’ve never been to treatment before, they don’t really know what to expect. We have some people that this is not the first go around. So they they do have some background in the treatment process. Some people that come for, you know, to make their families happy, some people that really want it for themselves. And then during that process, some people, you know, have slips or relapses, a good portion of them do remain in treatment, or try to get re engaged and get back on track, for the most part, which is a great thing. Very rarely do they kind of just disappear and never come back. But yeah, those were probably most of the people we see.
Kira Yakubov 7:23
Well, that’s great, they don’t disappear. The museum is committed to treatment to some degree, even if they’re not ready at that particular stage. But you know, because I know there’s different seasons of this process. So knowing that the place you’re at Valley springs recovery, it sounds like, depending on where you’re at, in your journey, this is a good spot for them to come to get treatment.
Laura Schneider 7:47
I agree. And I think the main feedback I hear from a lot of the clients is that they feel cared for. They feel like we actually do care about them and want them to do well. That’s it, that’s really the best thing to hear. I want people to feel heard and seen and valued.
Kira Yakubov 8:05
Absolutely. And so I know that you specialize in addiction, treatment and substance use, I know that you also work with trauma. And I know that there’s a really large overlap and kind of like this cyclical relationship between trauma or PTSD and substance use disorder. Can you speak a little bit more on that, or what you’ve seen in your experience or your knowledge around that?
Laura Schneider 8:28
Yeah, um, we actually talked about this yesterday, in group. A lot of the people that I see I love getting the trauma people if I know they have trauma, I do try to see them because that is one of my passions is working with trauma and PTSD. One of the things that we learned in the process is some people will come in with trauma before their addiction starts. And then some people will have trauma kind of in adulthood. But one of the things we try to put together like the pieces of okay, what what is this trauma and how, what is the impact it’s having on your life? Is it a story where the pain is so much that you did different things to cope with it, in a way numb it or try to push it aside and pretend like it’s not there, eventually, drugs and alcohol become a great way to do that, because it kind of turns your mind off a little bit. But you’re not actually healing from anything. So these things are going to keep coming up. And you’re going to keep using substances more and more to kind of treat the mental health symptoms that come with trauma. And then as the addiction is getting worse, you’re probably going to use more and then you’re going to just be numbing things until the point it kind of explodes. Eventually. It’s like a pressure cooker, the more pressure you put eventually it’s going to it’s all gonna come collapsing down.
Trauma and addiction treatment
Kira Yakubov 9:51
Yeah, and it’s interesting because it’s, you’re saying that sometimes people come in with trauma and they haven’t even really started using substances or it can be vice versa, right like they need have already started using substances for whatever reason, and maybe there’s you know, they had an accident or something else that’s been going on in their life. And then through that process, they may find themselves in kind of traumatic or dangerous situations that exacerbates that and those symptoms. And it kind of just goes back and forth. Yeah,
Laura Schneider 10:19
it’s a snowball effect. One of the young men was talking yesterday about how he, I think it’s like 10 years or so he has a process, this really traumatic thing that happened, where he found a friend that passed away. And it was an after a night of them partying. So he has been carrying around for 10 years. Who knows, but he hasn’t even started unpacking it, like the guilt, the shame, the sadness, the anger, there’s all these things that he’s just been numbing, and the stuff is still going to be there underneath. But we’re not actually healing and getting better.
Kira Yakubov 10:53
Yeah, wow. And I can imagine a lot of people who have had childhood trauma, right, like years and years or decades of not really wanting to go there or think about that. And numbing, self medicating, right. I mean, it is a coping mechanism. It’s maladaptive. It’s not the best one. But it’s, you know, something that they found to help them move through life to not have to deal with those, whether it’s painful memories or like the dysregulation in their body. Yeah, that’s a lot. And it’s heavy work for you to be in every day as well. So I commend you for being in that specialty and helping people in that circumstance.
Laura Schneider 11:31
Thank you. I, I think also, trying to identify healthy coping skills can be a challenge, too, because sometimes people don’t even know really who they are. And they depending on what the trauma is, I really love working, especially not that I don’t like working with men. But I like working with women who have trauma. Because a lot of times what I hear from them is this great sense of not really know who they are, and having this narrative in their head, that doesn’t really come from them. That that it’s very, very low self esteem and no confidence and very, very segregating to themselves and trying to work on building up that piece of self love and competence and kind of rewriting the narrative that they’ve put into that they’ve had running in their heads for years. Yeah.
Kira Yakubov 12:17
And so how do you kind of approach that if someone’s coming in with addiction or substance use? And they have a history of trauma? Like do you tackle both at the same time? Do you kind of take time to separate between the two? What’s kind of like the course of action? Obviously, it’s different for every person, but like, generally, your approach to that.
Laura Schneider 12:38
i It’s kind of like what you said, it depends on what symptoms are presenting who the person is what really needs to be tackled. The hope is that, by the time I see them, they’re relatively stable. They haven’t had substances in their system for a while. So they’re pretty as close to baseline as I can get them. If they’re going to be there for a short amount of time. We I do. I don’t go deep diving into the trauma, but we kind of talk a little bit about maybe putting the pieces together of okay, we have this traumatic experience you had, how does that paint your view of the world? How does that? How is that kind of showing you how to react to people? How can we work on that? So it’s a more healthy way? If you’re someone that gets like, do you know, your trauma triggers? Do you know when you’re going to be more irritable, more susceptible to like panicking, depending on what you have? And we kind of kind of work on? How do we manage the symptoms, if they’re going to be there a little bit longer, and I know, it would be safe to do so we do try to dive deeper and to kind of talk about the trauma more deeply and really process that over time. It really depends if someone’s coming for maybe a month, I’m not going to deep dive into a lot of heavy stuff. But I will try to set them up for like a longer term plan. Luckily, most of the people I do work with stay for a good amount of time. So we’re able to do both. Okay,
Kira Yakubov 14:05
so that’s great. I’m glad that you mentioned that if they’re not there for a long time. You’re not just going like straight to the terrible. Yeah, like the worst thing that ever happened, okay, in a couple of weeks, we’re ending. So see you later, I just opened up this room for you. That’s like bleeding out, which is the reason that you’ve been numbing or avoiding and now you have nothing to help cope with it or move through that. So more about like symptom reduction, and sounds like a lot of self awareness, right, like making sure they can recognize when they’re experiencing these symptoms as well. Yeah.
Laura Schneider 14:41
Because that’s also the main takeaway I get from a lot of when I’m listening to what people are talking about. It it’s kind of awesome to watch people discover their own. The ways that they react to things and how they don’t they didn’t realize in that moment, I didn’t really I said something like, that is why I feel this way, which makes me behave this way. And it’s it’s really amazing to watch people put those pieces together for themselves, and then hopefully find better ways to cope with things.
Kira Yakubov 15:13
So I’m sure that’s one of the most rewarding parts, right? He’s like having all the pieces, like watching the light bulb go off, like, Oh, I get it. Now, we’re recognizing that that experience was traumatic, because I don’t necessarily specialize in trauma. But you know, in therapy, a lot of our clients are coming to us with some level of traumatic backgrounds, relationships, instances that they bring up. And sometimes they don’t even recognize that what they went through was traumatic, because it doesn’t seem that bad, or doesn’t seem like a big deal, or people around them had it worse. So I’m curious what that’s like, if you’ve had clients who kind of minimize or downplay or don’t even recognize that the things they’ve been through are traumatic and impacting them now.
Laura Schneider 16:00
So I do have, I’m thinking of one person in particular, that told me some stories. And in my head, it sounded very traumatic. They didn’t, it was, you know, very adult, they were minimizing it, or they just didn’t experience it as traumatic. But it did sound pretty traumatic. I always included in my notes, and I always put it down in like my trauma history, just in case it comes up again. And then maybe lightly touch on like, trying to pull similarities. Oh, well, if you’re, if you’re kind of talking about these feelings of underlying self doubt, or thinking that people don’t like you, or this, you know, whatever they’re bringing to me, could that relate to the feeling you might have had experiencing this and trying to help them see, I’m never going to tell someone else’s story for them. So if they don’t think it’s traumatic, then I’m not going to tell them it’s trauma. But I you know, I just want to kind of, I always tell them, this just food for thought, give them little, little things to think about. A lot of my homework for people is just think about it, I just want you to think about these things.
Kira Yakubov 17:10
See where the connection might be? Yeah. And so I know before, when it was just the two of us talking that you mentioned, doing a lot of like, inner child work? Can you share a little bit about that as well?
Laura Schneider 17:24
I find inner child work to be childhood work to be very fascinating. I think it’s, it’s a hard one to get people on board with sometimes. Because I get it it sounds kind of like odd. Like you’re, you’re parenting your inner child and to do that sometimes you I also Okay, so let me tell us, I love doing art therapy. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But a lot of my adult, they’re all adults, but you know, they get a little resistance to our therapy. They’re like, why am I coloring? I know I should not. And like we can talk about heavy stuff again. But this is just to have fun. And there’s a little piece of the kid inside that’s just wants to play and have fun. And a lot of people might not have had that might not have had the chance to just have fun. And you get to care for the little version of yourself that maybe didn’t get that care. And he’ll that I always tell my people think of so I would say for instance you like think a little Kira Think a little Kira, who just wanted to hug and she just wanted to adult like she never got that, like enter the damn doll. Let’s, let’s take her outside and touch some grass and you know, paints or something, you know, care for her. There’s something very healing about being able to care for like this metaphorical, smaller
The importance of joy and creativity in healing from trauma and addiction
Kira Yakubov 18:46
version of yourself. Well, that and you know, it’s interesting, because the work you do is I’m sure really heavy. And you know, therapy in general can be really heavy. And I think that clients forget that a big part. And even sometimes a big part of healing is experiencing joy. Right? Like, it’s not just about talking about these really, whether it’s traumatic or serious or vulnerable things. Yes, it’s that and it’s okay, now how can I make more space in my life to feel joy and happiness and just be present and do these activities that have no function for productivity or anything like that, but just for me, to just live and be like, have fun, like you’re saying is just enjoy life for a moment?
Laura Schneider 19:32
Yeah, those are actually the groups that I love to do. I almost always want to do those, obviously. But I think first of all, sobriety wouldn’t be no one would keep doing it. If there was no fun or joy ever, right? If it was a drag every day for the rest of your life. Why would anyone ever stay the course. So it’s kind of showing everyone Hey, we’re still allowed to laugh and have fun and be silly and goof off. And there’s also by dynamic in the group where that brings up group cohesion if you’re all making jokes and laughing and having a fun time together, those are, those are the memories that I remember from my own group therapy years ago, I remember that the fun groups were we were we made like gingerbread houses for Christmas. And we were all just joking around. And it was fun I not that I didn’t get anything out of the heavier groups. But the fun groups is where, you know, I kind of what you’re saying, I remembered, there’s joy, I’m allowed to have joy and I can have joy, without anything in my body. That shouldn’t be there. Like, that’s pretty cool. That’s pretty nice.
Kira Yakubov 20:32
Yeah. And I think that’s a big part of helping with trauma too, right? Especially since it’s so in our body, and our nervous system is dysregulated. And we’re on edge and there could be panic, right? Like, our amygdala was being fired all the time. So having joy is like telling your body, hey, I’m safe enough. To not be vigilant, I’m safe enough to just focus and be present, and enjoy the company of other people around me and laugh. And the more space we create for that, like, stillness, right, it also helps our body kind of heal as well outside of the narrative. And just like internally somatically, as well. Absolutely.
Laura Schneider 21:12
And I think it’s, it’s a win win, because so I picked up the guitar when I got sober, and I was dealing with my own mental health stuff. And I found it to be so rewarding. And I’m not saying everyone’s got to pick up a guitar, you know how to play music. But there’s something out there that you can do that’s really good to, like, help you get, like, get these things out of you. So for music, if I’m sad, I like to play sad music, and I like to write a lot of stuff that’s going on in, in my mind, get it out of my head. And it’s a healing thing, it helps me process what I need to. And I think there’s a lot of different mechanisms mechanisms to do that. That might be a little outside the box, you know, if you’re, I tell people play to your strengths. I know that I like art, and I like music. So I, I tried to just make it that if you’ve always been interested in knitting, try it and work towards it. Because it’s fresh, everything’s new and frustrating at first when you don’t know how to do it. But the more you do it, the more you learn, the prouder, you feel more you want to do it, and you feel accomplished. And it’s very empowering. If you’re someone that likes to to run, make it a goal to do like a half marathon and and take pride in each day, trying your best and just working a little harder to get to your goal. And then you’re gonna feel so many good things.
Kira Yakubov 22:29
Sounds like kind of redirecting your your energy and your thoughts on something healthier, right? Like, that’s for you, that brings joy that is a learning curve, right? It’s not about being really good at it. But it’s you gain confidence throughout that process and sticking with something so that you feel better about yourself.
Laura Schneider 22:48
Yeah, because in substance use disorder, the number one trigger I hear is boredom. When people don’t have things to do, they get bored, and then they don’t, they’re just like, Whatever, I’m gonna go, do what I got to do. So I tell people, you’re gonna have a lot of time on your hands now that you’re not, you know, going to the liquor store, go to drug dealer worrying about this or feeling sick, you’re gonna have a lot more free time. Let’s make some good use out of it and find something that you’d like to do. So that that that downtime doesn’t feel boring. I mean, as humans, we have to a lot of people have to learn that it’s okay to just exist, our bodies and our minds need to rest. And it’s okay, you don’t have to be engaged in something all day every day. But we can’t be not doing anything all day, every day, we got to find something to do. So that that time feels fulfilling. And instead of calling it boring time, it’s more like this is my peace. This is my peaceful time.
Boredom, loneliness, and trauma therapy
Kira Yakubov 23:51
It’s interesting that boredom is a is a trigger, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought about that. But I can think about, at least for me, like I have ADHD and like when I’m bored, sometimes it can feel or is interpreted as me being sad. And so I’m curious if there’s kind of that connection to have when you’re bored, there’s nothing to do you feel like that’s you’re not being fulfilled. And so it kind of feels like sadness, or if that’s just like, a personal experience. And that’s not something that maybe other people kind of linked together. Boredom.
Laura Schneider 24:21
Well, because what I think of boredom, a lot of people also talk about the feeling of loneliness, too. And I think that can feel sad as well. And this is more of that kind of CBT technique is like what words we’re using, right? Sometimes we are going to be a little bored, it’s okay to be bored. You’re not going to always be fulfilled every single second of the day, but it’s about being able to kind of sit in that tolerate it, and then maybe change how we view it. So for me if I’m having that boring time, or what other people might look at as boring I find it very peaceful. I find it we’re also breaking this cycle of Chaos. So a lot of people in addiction and in trauma get very used to chaos and I, we logically know that the chaos is not good for us, we’re not happy in that chaos, but it’s comfortable. When you’ve lived in it for so long, you, you, it feels familiar. So you might keep trying to chase that chaos in some way. So I think it’s about accepting that you don’t have to live in chaos. And that’s a good thing, you’re allowed to have peace. And instead of calling it boredom, let’s call it downtime, and the serenity that you’ve been looking for, because you deserve to not live in chaos.
Kira Yakubov 25:34
That’s so true. Whatever is familiar is comfortable, even if it’s not something that’s healthy, or that we enjoy. It’s just we know what to expect. We know what to do with it. And changes Change is hard, right? And anytime we change, there’s like a grieving process, even if we’re changing for the better, still grieving something that we’re leaving behind or losing, that served a function for some period of time for us.
Laura Schneider 25:58
Yeah. In. In our field, we we say like drugs and alcohol. That’s not the problem. That’s the solution. But what are we solving? What are? What’s the question? Were like, what are we using it for? There’s, it’s serving a purpose, we wouldn’t do it if it didn’t serve a purpose.
Kira Yakubov 26:12
So I know that you coming up in the next year or sometime soon wanted to become e MDR. Certified? For the listeners who don’t know what that is, can you share a little bit of like, what that approach is, and what made you want to start learning and going into that direction?
Laura Schneider 26:29
Yeah, sure. Um, a lot of clients bring it up to me. It’s something I’ve read about or heard about done, like, short trainings on. But um, it stands for eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing. It’s basically, like the last two words, desensitization, desensitization, and reprocessing. You know, trauma has an impact on how we experience the world, right? So when the, when we’re triggered in those moments, it causes us great distress, right? And that can impact how we’re relating to other people, how we’re reacting in situations, and it’s not always the best, healthiest way, and it’s very uncomfortable for us. So this is a technique that kind of uses eye movements similar to REM sleep, I believe, to minimize some of how we experienced that distress when we recall certain traumatic events, so that they so that these moments aren’t as intense when we experienced them.
Kira Yakubov 27:36
And is that something that I know you said you did a couple of short trainings on? Is there anything that like when you were learning about you’re like, Oh, I definitely want to do this or that made you want to pull towards it? Or is it just that working with trauma, it’s kind of like the natural next step.
EMDR therapy for trauma and its effectiveness
Laura Schneider 27:50
I remember being very curious about it. When I first learned about it, this was probably 10 years ago, a long time ago, when I did it. At that time, I was working with children who survived sex abuse, so we didn’t put it I was still in school. So we didn’t, you know, practice it. And I remember learning about anything that’s really interesting. But again, my own journey got very sidetracked. So I didn’t really, you know, go back into it. And then as I was working in mental health and working in addiction, it’s come up a lot, and a lot of people who have had an interest in it. I know, I’ve been very curious about it. myself. So I thought, you know, if I’m really going to try to specialize more in trauma, I should be really informed in a, a pretty successful and, you know, needed technique. Yeah,
Kira Yakubov 28:38
absolutely. And I know that it’s, like pretty evidence based, like, there’s a lot of research studies that show that it decreases the symptoms of PTSD or trauma, like significantly, and your experience of it. I mean, I’ve had it done. For me, personally, I haven’t had like the full kind, of course of it, but it’s pretty intense. It’s you, I think you have to like really be ready for that journey and know that like, Okay, I’m committed to experiencing this and working through it. And it’s like, not like it gets worse before it gets better, at least from my experience.
Laura Schneider 29:13
This is where I would be particular about who I implemented with, though, because if, again, I’m not going to open Pandora’s box, you know, if someone can only be with me for a month, I would kind of be more open to I don’t like to have a discussion with people at the beginning of really how long treatment is going to be because it I don’t know that I can’t answer that for them. I don’t want to give them an arbitrary number. And then they get so focused on the end game that they’re not present. So I never really give anything more than like a kind of basic trajectory of how I think it could go with no promises made. But I think you know, with depending on who I’m working with, I think I would have to highlight who would benefit from this who would want to be with me for a while because I don’t want to, like you said it can be pretty intense and pretty. Eat, it’s gonna feel worse before it gets better. So I don’t want to just, you know, let’s do EMDR and then you’re out next week, that’s not a good idea. So I’d have to be very careful. But I think I have enough people that would be with me long enough that it would be beneficial.
Kira Yakubov 30:15
Yeah. And can you share a little bit if you if you know, like, kind of like the process or what that’s like for a client who might be interested in that or struggling with trauma to think about what they could expect in something like that,
Laura Schneider 30:29
um, I haven’t performed it myself. So I don’t, I can’t speak to like how it might look that way. But from what I know, the first session or two are very, you know, getting like the background information, getting the history, and then you in the coalition kind of highlight what traumatic memories are what what things you want to what to distressing symptoms you’re going to be looking at, and you’re looking to replace that with a more positive belief in that place. And then, over the course of a few sessions, you’re going to be really, you got to be ready to recall these events in great detail. And that might bring up a lot of emotions and feelings, and then they they do the tapping or the, you know, the fingers snapping or the clapping, to reprocess that in your brain. And so you might, it’s gonna bring up a lot of stuff. So start small, with smaller traumas that aren’t as intense. And you do that for a few weeks, it really is going to depend on the person and what, what traumatic memories you’re bringing up, how intense it is. And then hopefully, you’re feeling better after, you know, a couple months. So that, yeah, and then you kind of, I think you’ll either pick more stuff to even or to I don’t think we’re ever fully healed. So I think, I think just because life is a growth and change process, I think you can minimize a lot of things. But I think, like grief, never 100% goes away. But if you learn to manage it and live with it, I have anxiety, and I’ve just learned to manage and deal with it and find what works, you know, it’s never going to go away. 100% Anxiety is normal thing to happen, right? Grief is a normal experience, pain is normal. But I think we don’t, we don’t want it to impact our whole lives. We’re not we’re always distressed or always anxious, we’re
Kira Yakubov 32:20
always this way. But you should feel it’s not getting rid of, yeah, we’re
Laura Schneider 32:24
not getting rid of anything. We’re just kind of learning how to live with these things and manage them in a way that’s effective and helps.
EMDR therapy and holiday season triggers
Kira Yakubov 32:34
And for my understanding, so I don’t know for sure. But for my understanding of EMDR. The way that it works like in your brain is pretty fascinating. And interesting, especially why they do like the eye movements or the tapping to incorporate with that is that you know, when a person goes through a traumatic experience, everything in your brain and body kind of shuts off that doesn’t need to be there to survive in that moment. So like your language center is off your reproductive system, like everything is kind of off that is not immediately necessary. So like the story and narrative of what’s happening, versus what’s really going on is like disconnected. Right? And so then, from what I can, from what I was reading is that EMDR helps you make that connection between the traumatic experience between the story, communicate that to each other, and desensitize yourself to create this new narrative about the situation or about what you feel or think about it. So that it doesn’t feel the same way in your body and in your mind. Which is pretty powerful. Like, whoa, that’s crazy.
Laura Schneider 33:41
Yeah, it’s it is fascinating. I wish I was like a neurologist or someone who could understand anything with the brain and understand how that works. But it’s just it’s powerful. It like you said it’s evidence based so it works for a lot of people. Yeah. And
Kira Yakubov 33:58
so I know with the the holidays kind of coming up is this a would you say this is like a natural trigger for some people or some of your clients just being or whether it’s around family or like memories, or, you know, in the northeast of like being in New Jersey, New York, it’s cold and there’s like, you know, seasonal depression? Is this a time where you might see more relapse?
Laura Schneider 34:20
Absolutely, this is what I call the danger zone, I feel it’s because it’s a lot of holidays back to back to back. And that can bring up either painful memories of not having their families around. It can highlight you know, you have to be around family members that you might not get along with. There’s usually alcohol at events around the holidays. So like you said, it’s cold it’s dreary, it’s you know, you’re gonna be more prone to that. Oh, it’s boring because I can’t go outside and it’s it’s too cold in the snow and it just you know, and seasonal depression we’re now years feeling Saturn general it’s definite The danger zone. So we talked about that a bit over the last week or so like what’s, what’s the safety plan? How do we manage through the holidays in a way where we’re going to manage our symptoms? Well, and not go back out and use? Like, what are what are the tools we’re going to put in our toolkit for the holidays? And on the flip side, I do have some people that are excited, because like, Oh, my God, I’m sober for the first time that Thanksgiving, that’s, that’s fun. And they’re like,
Kira Yakubov 35:24
Okay. Oh, yeah. And so for the listeners, are there any kind of I know, it’s very, you know, specific and customized to the person. But is there any like kind of general tips that you could give people during this time that might be in recovery or struggling to help them move through this holiday season or winter?
Laura Schneider 35:44
Absolutely, there’s a few tools that I always recommend for the toolbox no matter who you are. So that’s coming up with a plan, right, and part of the plan are going to consist of different steps. So I always encourage people, if you’re going to someone’s house, and you know there’s going to be alcohol, there’s no way to avoid that. Go late, leave early. Take care of yourself, have at least one person, at least one, ideally more, but at least one person who you can confide in that can help you. So if you get there, and it’s more of a struggle than you thought, have someone that you can pull aside to talk to have a safe word that lets them know, we gotta leave right now, because we’re in high Red Alert. Have some people on standby on your phone that you can text or call so you can step out if you’re having a craving. So like, Hey, you got 15 minutes to just talk to me, talk me through this. And, you know, get through that with them. Bring drinks that you like, if your favorite drink in the whole world is Diet Coke, bringing 12 Diet Coke, so you know that you have your favorite drink, always have it and always have it in your hand. Because people are a lot less likely to offer you a drink if you’re holding a drink in your hand. So we tell people to do that. And just don’t be like, I get it. We all want to be polite and kind. You don’t have to worry about what other people think if you’re struggling, don’t just sit there because you know, oh, Nana said, you know, and I was gonna get mad if I leave No, like if you’re if it’s between you drinking or nana getting offended, just, you know, go take care yourself be safe. Your safety is the number one concern. And don’t you don’t have to tell anybody why you’re not drinking, but have a firm no, no is a complete sentence. And I know that a lot of times families don’t take that they want to more information, come up with whatever you want to say if you’re on antibiotics, or you’re on antibiotics, if you’re saying oh, I’m not drinking in November, say that. If you want to tell people you’re in recovery, even more power to you. But it’s your story. You don’t have to tell people unless you’re comfortable. But just have a firm know, don’t be like some people will. Because we want to be kind we care about other people think a lot of my people I work with are people pleasers, as am I we feel like we owe people an explanation. Or something about like, you know, we don’t we can just say no, I’m not doing this. And we can we can say that in a way where they understand that’s like the end of the conversation. Because some people will say, Oh, no, not right now. Good. You know, maybe later, maybe next time I see you, you know, just put a firm no on it. You’re allowed to have boundaries, you’re allowed to stand up for something that you need, you’re allowed to express that
Kira Yakubov 38:29
sounds like a lot of being assertive, assertive boundaries, having a backup plan, like thinking ahead a little bit and having support around you. Yeah.
Laura Schneider 38:39
And being just very honest, and especially what yourself. Some people think like, this is a test. We were not this is not a test. These are not like little you can you can get through these moments and feel proud of them. But you shouldn’t need to, like go out and test your sobriety. Right? Like that’s why I always say even if you think you’re going to be fine, have a safety plan. I’d rather you have, like 20 different coping skills and never need to use any of them then be stuck. And now you don’t know what to do.
Kira Yakubov 39:08
Sure. Better safe than sorry. Always write better to be prepared not have to do anything. Vice versa. Exactly. Yeah. So our this has been very informative, really great. I really appreciate you you coming on. Is there any way for people that are listening that might want to work with you to get in touch with you? Yeah,
Laura Schneider 39:28
um, so I have an email address. l Schneider at Valley spring rc.com.
Kira Yakubov 39:35
Thank you so much for I really appreciate your time and you sharing your insights with us today.
Laura Schneider 39:39
They I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.
Kira Yakubov 39:42
This was nice. Absolutely.