Please Don’t Thank Me for My Service — Until You Welcome Me Home

It has been fifty years since I was with the Marine Corps infantry in Vietnam, and time and distance have allowed me to see and feel some things more clearly. Two things surprise me: one is that I now actually feel some pride for serving my country. And the second is my clear sense that something could change for me and many vets with your help, significantly, and the surprise is that I am willing to say to you, “Please help us come home.”

War is an ugly business, and those of us who come home can carry painful baggage. … Read More

Our Nervous System Never Experiences Secondary Trauma: It is always Primary

Our Nervous System Never Experiences Secondary Trauma: It is always Primary
How to reduce the personal cost of our work helping those suffering from collective trauma.

Our nervous systems cannot understand our minds’ belief that we are experiencing “secondary” trauma. We tell ourselves it is secondary because the people we are working with have experienced a trauma that is direct to them, and because we are working with them it then indirectly affects us. But the nervous system doesn’t care about our rationalizing.

When we have heard enough stories from the refugees we work with who have fled their troubled … Read More

Healing Unprocessed Collective Trauma

This is a webinar I did on Nov 7, 2018, for a great group called Psychology for Peacebuilding (find them on FB). Here is how it was posted.

Healing Unprocessed Collective Trauma, Nov 7, 2018, for Psychology of Peacebuilding (FB)

Patrick Dougherty, M.A., L.P. is a licensed psychologist with 40 years of clinical work and social activism. He is part of an international group working with and developing models dealing with collective trauma. (www.pocketproject.org) He is a former US Marine who served in Vietnam and is leading a group specifically working with the collective trauma of armed violence, genocide and … Read More

Therapist Peer Groups – The “Emotional Lifeboat – Self-care isn’t always enough

One morning, a few days after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, a female client left me a voicemail just minutes before her 8 a.m. appointment. Her voice shook as she struggled to speak. An hour earlier, her son had showed her pictures on Twitter of a classmate posing with an assault rifle. The day before, this classmate had been beaten up for mocking students who cried after hearing about the Parkland attack. “I might be a little late to our appointment,” she said. “I’ve already spoken about this with the police, and I’m waiting for a call back from … Read More

Reducing the stress for those who work with personal and collective trauma

April 20, 2018
movingthroughit.org

There is no such thing as “secondary trauma” to the nervous system. We use that term to help us know that the impact of working with traumatized people can be overwhelmingly stressful and needs our attention. And when you work with groups of people suffering from any form of collective trauma, such as battered women, refugees, the homeless, those displaced by war, etc., your own nervous system can easily feel not just stressed, but traumatized.

When working with these populations it is normal at times to feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry, hopeless or dissociated. These are all … Read More

Joining Together to Heal our Trauma

(Originally published August 16, 2016)

Sociologist Kai Erikson’s definition of collective trauma is a blow or tearing,  “to the basic tissues of social life that damages the bonds attaching people together and impairs the prevailing sense of community.” Those are strong words and yet apt for our world, and specifically, our American culture, today. These last few years the world as we have known it has been slowing changing, the social fabric most of us have known has been slowing tearing apart, and few of us feel as safe as we did not long ago and most of us can Read More