The Meadows Blog


Trauma (18)

Wednesday, 08 June 2016 00:00

Don't Give Up

Thomas was very sick, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After trying other treatment programs, he thought that maybe happiness and sobriety were just not in the cards for him. At The Meadows he learned how trauma, shame, and guilt keep people stuck and prevent them from being able to maintain their sobriety. He also learned how to let go of that shame and guilt and to have hope again.

If you need help with addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, emotional trauma, or other mental health issues, please call The Meadows today at 800-244-4949

In a recent video from PESI Inc., Dr. Bessel van der Kolk— a Senior Fellow at The Meadows— explains how yoga traditions can help prevent psychological trauma patients from getting stuck during the course of their treatment.

Traumatized people’s bodies get rewired in a way that makes them feel that they are constantly in danger. They get tightness in their chests, they feel restless, agitated, and unable to focus. This makes it necessary for them to explore how they can find stillness and become more present in the here and now.

Two major avenues for learning how to quiet your mind and body are movement and breath. Yoga and Tai Chi are both traditions that use movement and breath to help people improve their interoception, or sense of the body from within.

Learn more from Dr. van der Kolk about the role yoga and interoception can play in healing from trauma in this brief video:

Trauma Yoga

If you’re a behavioral health professional, check out Dr. van der Kolk’s 6-week Intensive Trauma Treatment Course to take a deep dive into numerous effective trauma treatment modalities. Register today, because spaces are limited.

If you’re a certified sex addiction therapist, or someone who has been through sex addiction treatment, you may be familiar with the concept of the trauma egg. It plays an important role in the completion of Task 9, Acknowledge Cycles of Abuse, in Dr. Patrick Carnes’ 30 Task Model of sex addiction treatment.

Its use is not limited to sex addiction treatment, though. Completing and sharing a trauma egg in group therapy or with a therapist or sponsor can be a very empowering activity for any one working through the aftermath of emotional trauma.

The trauma egg was developed as a tool for treating emotional trauma by Marilyn Murray, an internationally-recognized authority on trauma, abuse, deprivation, and its consequences. Along with The Circles of Intimacy, The Scindo Syndrome, and The Survival Bricks, it makes up what’s known as The Murray Method, which she has developed and expanded upon throughout her more than 30 years of experience.

Marilyn’s work inspires and complements the work of our some of our own therapists and Senior Fellows at The Meadows. That’s why we feel especially honored that Marilyn herself has offered to facilitate a Murray Method Workshop at The Meadows Outpatient Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. It is the first time in more than 10 years that Marilyn has offered her training in the United States.

The Trauma Egg

Completing a trauma egg allows a person to take an inventory of emotionally traumatic and painful events that took place throughout their lives from birth to the present day. More importantly, the activity helps them to begin to identify the traumatic personal beliefs that resulted from those events.

For example, if a child experiences a lot of abandonment, he or she forms a belief to explain why they were abandoned. The belief they create may be that there were not good enough or that they were unworthy.

Traumatic beliefs are disempowering and painful, and they prevent people from understanding their real emotional needs. Those who don’t understand their emotional needs often don’t know how to fulfill them in healthy ways, and may turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, or a variety of other substances and activities to try and fill the emptiness left behind by their unmet emotional needs.

Through sharing the trauma egg with a therapist or therapy group, a person can gain a new perspective on the events in their lives, and begin to challenge and change their core, traumatic beliefs. This is the key to recovery from addictions and many other behavioral disorders.

trauma egg diagram

The Murray Method Workshop

The Murray Method workshop is a four-day training session that gives therapists and mental health professionals the opportunity to complete a trauma egg of their own and to develop deeper insights about the effects of trauma and abuse on their patients and themselves. CEUs are available for those who complete the course.

Shereen Hariri, MFT, attended one of Marilyn’s Murray Method workshops and says it really enhanced her perspectives on trauma and treatment:

“We were using [the trauma egg] a little bit with our intensive outpatient clients who were coming in for sex addiction and love addiction, but when I took the course with her… I just really got this experience of getting it….If you want to the full experience, go find Marilyn and do the whole thing with her.”

Ralph H. Earle (MDiv, PhD, ABPP, LMFT, CSAT) of Psychological Counseling Services in Scottsdale, Arizona says he also recommends Marilyn Murray and her Murray Method without reservation.

“I have used the Murray Method both personally and professionally. The method impacted me in terms of my own growth—most importantly, I was “Marilynized” almost 30 years ago when Marilyn was developing her method. It also impacted me in terms of my relationship with my son… The Murray Method has literally been used every day in our practice by all of our therapists.”

Although the workshop is geared toward professionals, all are welcome to attend. Mostly anyone could benefit from spending time thinking about their core beliefs and how they may be holding them back. One of our Intake coordinators would be happy to help you determine whether this workshop is right for you.

Sessions of The Murray Method will be offered at The Meadows Outpatient Center on

  • February 18 – 21, 2016  
  • March 17 – 20, 2016
  • April 14 – 17, 2016

To learn more about the workshop, or to register, call 800-244-4949 or visit The Meadows Outpatient Center Events page.

The Meadows has been hosting Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance psychiatry residents in a Trauma elective for nearly a year now. Dr. Shelley Uram – Senior Fellow at The Meadows who founded the program – supervises residents during this elective.

“My long association with Harvard and my passion for teaching was a natural evolution when this program was conceptualized,” says Dr. Uram. “And the Meadows’ expertise in trauma was the obvious fit for these residents to receive the best experience available.”

Residents receive intensive trauma education and exposure to progressive interventions. Immersion into this program includes some classic training by Pia Mellody and teaching/experiential work with other staff members around Somatic Experiencing, Neurofeedback, EMDR, EFT, mindfulness practices, trauma-informed yoga/tai chi, and a host of other cutting-edge interventions available at our expansive and newly launched Meadows Brain Center.

Dr. Uram assists residents in integrating the trauma theory/interventions, so they can incorporate this education into their current model of treatment prior to attending this elective.

Jim Dredge, CEO of The Meadows, says the collaborative relationship with Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance and The Meadows is extremely significant and one that is cherished. “This important collaboration allows The Meadows to share our methods and processes with Harvard/CHA psychiatry residents to provide them with the opportunity to further develop the treatments used at The Meadows.”

The response has been so overwhelmingly positive for both residents and Meadows staff members that there is now a waiting list for this elective.

Wednesday, 09 July 2014 00:00

Blue - A New Paradigm

By: Sandra Lehmann, Trauma Counselor at The Meadows

I am currently going through the professional training program on Somatic Experiencing ® (SE) – a psychobiological method for the resolution and healing of trauma. I was struck by what the trainer taught us regarding the concept of society being addicted to the “red vortex.” The red vortex represents trauma and intensity (think the evening news). In the training, we learn how people get sucked into the red vortex as they reach the edges of intense experiences and that reliving the intensity of what happened in that experience is not healing. The trainer spoke about how it is not our fault that we are red addicted; we are born into a society that is inherently disconnected from our true nature, which is to live in harmony with nature and one another. SE therapy helps the patient reconnect with their body’s inherent ability to heal.

A key point of SE is that after we have a traumatic experience we tend to live in extremes – either avoiding intensity by trying to feel good all the time (think addiction), or living out intense experiences that activate the nervous system similar to the original trauma. In the SE training, we are taught to move towards the “blue vortex” first – feeling safe and socially connected – before moving towards the red. This back and forth movement gets lost in trauma.

The goal of SE is to increase our flexibility to move back and forth between both the pleasure and pain life offers and to have resiliency so we can be present to what is happening in the here and now. By being in the here and now, we have an embodied experience which allows us to be present for self and others. Imagine what the world would look like if we each learn to be that engaged in our own process so we can connect with others in such an open way.

To learn more about Somatic Experiencing® and how it can improve your life, contact The Meadows at 800-244-4949 with your questions, and start receiving the help you need.

Shelley's Corner: A Series on Emotional Trauma, Addiction, and Healing

Dr. Shelley Uram is a Harvard trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. As a Meadows' Senior Fellow, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and provides ongoing training and consultation to the treatment staff at The Meadows.

Welcome to Shelley’s Corner! Each week, you can find me here sharing some interesting information and ideas. Any feedback or ideas about topics are most welcomed!

Claudia Black, Senior Fellow at The Meadows, and I just returned from Boston from the 25th Annual International Trauma Conference. In my opinion, this is THE BEST trauma conference that I attend each year. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, who is also a Senior Fellow at The Meadows, scours the planet each year looking for the latest and best trauma research. If he thinks the research will ultimately be valuable to trauma clients or clinicians, he welcomes these innovators to participate in his conference.

This year’s speakers updated us on the latest information concerning cutting edge theory and treatment practices. For example, the founder of Sensori-motor Psychotherapy, Pat Ogden, lectured and presented some film clips of clients working with her techniques. Her general approach to treating trauma is releasing the remnants, or “shadows,” of trauma that have been locked into our bodies. When it is released, not only does the body become freer and more spontaneous, but, likewise, our emotions can become much more comfortable.

At The Meadows, Pat Ogden’s Sensori-motor Psychotherapy is one of the trauma techniques many of our counselors utilize. We use this form of therapy, in conjunction with Pia Mellody’s Model, along with several other interventions that help heal our bodies and minds from trauma and addiction. It is my opinion that this whole package is unbeatable for helping people heal.

I’ll be back next week with some ideas about practices you can do on your own that may be helpful for many of you!

Until Then,

Shelley Uram, M.D.

© Shelley Uram 2014

Claudia Black, Ph.D., one of the world-renown Senior Fellows at The Meadows, spent this spring traveling and speaking across the country, frequently discussing what it is The Meadows and their sister programs treat, and that is trauma and addictions.

Here is a snippet of Dr. Black’s message:

Christopher says he remembers his first drink so well. He got sick as a dog; his head was spinning, and it was oblivion. He was 12, and he loved it. He was in his own bubble, and no one was ever going to hurt him again. No one was ever going to have the power to make him feel bad about himself. No one could ever get close enough to him for them to make a difference in his life. Alcohol and other drugs became his protector.

Deanna says she had loving parents, but at school, the kids began to pick on her, and she was bullied throughout the following years. She didn’t tell anyone, and in high school she began cutting on herself and then found her parents’ pills. She didn’t know why they had meds, but that didn’t matter to her − they just helped to dull her pain.

Jason was a first responder, an EMT and a firefighter. He had spent ten years, responding to people in crisis, and he was in his fourth year of work when he was the only one of his team of six to make it out of a burning building alive after being trapped for several hours. Until that time, he would have considered himself a normal drinker, in fact, a light drinker. Today, he can’t seem to get enough.

Chris, Deanna, and Jason are addicted, and each is a trauma survivor.

Two facts:

  1. Addiction increases the likelihood of trauma. While under the influence, you are more apt to experience humanly caused tragedies such as car accidents, burning home, or be subject to violence, physical and sexual.
  2. Trauma increases the likelihood of addiction.

Definition of trauma: the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security and result in your feeling helpless, alone and vulnerable.

Not that long ago when we thought of trauma we thought of natural disasters—fires that rampage acres, hurricanes and tornadoes, or shootings on our college campuses, movie theatres, elementary schools, or acts of terrorism. It may come with the experience of war, rape, a car accident or the burning of the family home.

These are thought of as Big T traumas. They are very horrific situations that frequently lead to trauma responses, some as severe as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). But of all the people who experience trauma only 30% have PTSD, but nonetheless they may still suffer other trauma responses.

Little t traumas can be just as damaging as a Big T trauma, especially because they tend to occur over time and build upon each other. Examples would be ongoing emotional abuse or neglect, experiences of shame, humiliation, being left out, bullied or ridiculed and feeling not cared for.

The trauma that occurs in the family system can be both blatant and subtle. What is most significant is that it is chronic. It can include both Big T, and little T traumas Psychological effects are most likely to be most severe if the trauma is:

  • Human caused
  • Repeated
  • Unpredictable
  • Undergone in childhood
  • Perpetrated by a caregiver. Sadly this often means growing up in an addicted home, a rageful home, or simply a chronically impaired family system.

We know the impact can be ameliorated by existence of a support system at the time of the trauma. This is why we see some children show greater resilience than others. Even within the same family system, some children more than others are able to garner support and experience greater protection.

It’s common for someone to minimize their experience because someone else has a greater horror story. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your own emotional experience of the event and the subsequent beliefs you internalize about yourself and the world. Your experience is not negated by someone else’s experience. They have theirs, and you have yours. Whether or not the trauma is acute or chronic, Big T or Little t, within the family system or not, the defenses developed are often what we are addressing when confronted with addictions, codependency, repetitive hurtful relationships, anxiety and depression.

The Meadows Can Help

For over 35 years, The Meadows trauma treatment program has been helping trauma victims heal and learn the skills necessary to cope with the devastating, and often hidden, effects of trauma. The trauma treatment program at The Meadows was specifically designed for trauma survivors by Pia Mellody and a team of world renowned experts including Dr. Peter Levine, John Bradshaw, Dr. Shelley Uram, Dr. Jerry Boriskin, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and Dr. Claudia Black.

The trauma treatment program at The Meadows can help you create a life of recovery, peace and healing. We have helped over 45,000 clients to date, through workshops and inpatient treatment programs. To learn more about the trauma workshops and treatment programs at The Meadows, call us at 800-244-4949 or visit this page for more information.

“This is one of the largest disasters America has ever faced,” stated Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

By now you have seen the news accounts and photographs regarding the situation in Texas. News reports have stated there are least 10 people are dead, with many more injured, as parts of the Houston area were inundated with more than 40 inches of rain, with totals possibly reaching 50 inches as the rainfall continues.

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