When did you begin at the PTSC and what brought you here?
I came in 2003 as a psychology intern. In 1994 I began the process of changing careers from the business world. I knew I wanted to intern in CT in order to stay close to my husband and grandchildren, so the PTSC was on my list. When I came to interview, I knew from the moment I walked in that the atmosphere of the building was the stark difference from the business world I had been looking for. I wanted a place where I would be able to work independently, to be honest, and be myself. This place felt like the right mix and gave me enough freedom to do that here.
Why have you stayed for 13 years?
Ultimately because I find the work to be very satisfying. I am never bored. And I love my patients and my colleagues. This has become a second home to me. I believe you can create what it is that you want wherever you are; so I don’t need to go anywhere else.
What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
I like to bake bread. And I am a genealogist. I love looking up histories of people and families. Even if people don’t think they have made contributions in the world, when they look back at things that at the time might seem ordinary, in fact many pieces are more important than they think. I am the genealogist for the PTSC as well!
Who is a person who has had a profound impact on you?
My former therapist. I learned so much from her, and think about her and use things she has taught me everyday both professionally and personally.
What do you like to do when not at work?
I like to garden. I am excited about my current project, which is all about fruit. I started out with blueberry bushes and cherry trees and this year I'm adding aronia bushes and a peach tree. Over time, the garden will have fruit from spring until fall, and I will have created a little sitting area where you can sit under the shade of the fruit trees. I like living a simpler kind of life, because you can really see the beauty when you keep things simple.
Who do you admire?
I think a lot about how brave my patients are. It takes a lot of guts to come to therapy and to do this work. I hope they know how much I admire them.
PTSC CO-DIRECTOR PRESENTS AT EXPRESSIVE THERAPIES SUMMIT
In November 2015, PTSC Co-Director Dr. Hadar Lubin presented as the keynote speaker at the Expressive Therapies Summit in New York City. The conference brings together creative arts therapies of all modalities, including, drama, art, music, writing, psychodrama, dance, and play therapies. Dr. Lubin’s presentation, titled, Advances in Trauma-Centered Psychotherapy: Essential Concepts, Evidence-Based Techniques, exposed conference goers to the PTSC’s approach to trauma centered psychotherapy. In her speech, Dr. Lubin outlined the major tenets of the PTSC's method, particularly engaging with the trauma narrative, and encouraged creative arts therapists to take a more active approach to addressing trauma in their work.
Dr. Lubin also shared some of the creative methods used at the PTSC both with individual clients and in group therapy. For example, around the PTSC you can see various pieces of art created by clients who have transformed their pain into symbols of strength. You can also find larger installations such as the “Remnant Wall” where clients are encouraged to create a visual representation of their trauma that they would like to leave behind as they move toward a more hopeful future. At the Expressive Therapies Summit, Dr. Lubin discussed the need for therapists and society alike to be willing to listen to their clients' stories and hold accountable not only the perpetrators but those who merely looked away. She said, “We weren’t there to save them when the trauma happened, but we can bear witness to their story, and their journey toward recovery.”
The most recent installation at the Center is an outstretched hand with an egg hanging from the tips of the fingers. Is the hand about to grab the egg, or drop it? "The piece attempts to evoke conflicting feelings in the viewer; of a caretaker who is neglectful and allows another who is vulnerable to fall and be hurt; or perhaps a caretaker with the courage to allow someone in their care to let go and adapt to the world on their own," notes David Johnson, the creator of the piece. "As the notation on the wall says, knowing the difference is what is important. So many of our clients have been hurt by people in their lives who did not know that difference."
A Needle in a Haystack: Finding A Mass Shooter By David R. Johnson, Ph.D. The recent third year anniversary of Newtown brings home again the question of “how are we going to stop this madness?” The profile of many mass shootings seems well-known: young single male, socially isolated, violent video game fanatic, owns guns, depressed, white, no previous arrests or disturbances of the peace. It would seem easy enough for authorities to use this profile to identify possible candidates and keep an eye on them, right?
Unfortunately no. Let’s do the math. How many young single males: about 8 million. Socially isolated individuals: 5 million. Video game fanatics: 10 million. Gun owners: 30 million. Depressed: 20 million. White: 200 million. No previous arrests: 250 million. Now if we overlap each of these, and whittle it down to those people who have ALL of these attributes, perhaps that will be more manageable, right? Not really. Epidemiologists who have run these numbers have come up with: about 250,000 people.So in the U.S. there are about 250,000 people with the profile of an Adam Lanza. We know that each year for the past twenty years, there have been about 10 mass shootings in this country a year, defined as the murder of at least 5 people unrelated to the shooter. So in 2016, perhaps 10 of those 250,000 people will commit one of these terrible acts. A chance of 1 in 25,000.
Obviously there is an additional factor other than those above that explains why a young single white male, depressed video gamer with guns and no previous arrests would choose to walk into a school or building and shoot innocent people.
What can that factor or factors be? No one knows for sure. Schizophrenia? Unlikely. Having been previously victimized? Maybe. Or.......?
The answer to this question haunts many of the surviving family members of mass shootings; for to be able to answer that deep question, Why? Is so important, but unfortunately still far off. Perhaps someday we will learn the answer.
This is the second installment of our column on clinicians who have been trained at our Center and have moved on to share their knowledge in other settings.
Dr. Yasemin Turkman interned with us from 2008 to 2009 while pursuing her APRN from Yale University. In addition to her clinical and teaching work, she is researching how people adjust to serious illness and how they can be aided in finding the best quality of life. Dr. Turkman draws upon her education at the PTSC when teaching students and when working with research participants and clients. Whether she is referring a student for trauma therapy, teaching students about trauma, or helping a research participant deal with trauma by way of helping them connect with resources, Dr. Turkman keeps our Developmental Theoretical Framework in mind to best help others succeed.
North American Drama Therapy Association Conference, October 2015
This past October, several members of the drama therapy team headed to White Plains, NY to deliver a 3-hour workshop on trauma-centered psychotherapy. The workshop was chosen to be a part of the social justice theme of the North American Drama Therapy Association's annual conference. Each clinician reported on the various techniques and theories behind the PTSC's trauma-centered psychotherapy model. Live case examples were worked through with the participants with each clinician facilitating a small group. The participants all expressed a desire for further training and showed an eagerness to begin to apply skills within their own clinical settings.
Christine Mayor, Director of Social Policy and Public Health at the PTSC, also teaches several graduate level courses at Lesley University for training creative arts therapists. Her teaching centers on social justice work and the impact of power, privilege, and oppression on clinical practice. While dealing with systemic issues, Christine interweaves trauma-centered perspectives, helping to train future clinicians to view the ethics and practice of working with different populations through both lenses.
New York University Furthering the goal of cross-cultural competence, Lizzie McAdam, Clinician, also teaches a graduate course at New York University entitled, “Cross Cultural Understanding for Artists, Educators, & Clinicians.” This is a cross-disciplinary course in the Drama Therapy and Education Theatre programs that helps students become more culturally aware and responsive in their personal and professional lives. Using a systemic approach, this course employs both embodied and trauma-informed methods to examine the impact of power, privilege and oppression within different clinical populations.