PEACE ON EARTH & WITHIN
This is that time of year when “Let there be peace on earth and goodwill towards all people," is posted everywhere and is repeated in our music. We as therapists know as hard as achieving world peace can be, personal peace can be as much a challenge.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the diagnoses that can greatly undermine attempts at peace. Depending on a person’s source of comfort, whether it be God, family, or a belief in a higher power, unless there is education on the dynamics of PTSD, the person feels unable to control the fear or to feel grounded.
I have done work in churches in Rwanda, Africa, after the genocide. A common theme repeated itself which churches who were trying to help orphans found confusing. Orphans who were considered stable emotionally became reactive upon adoption. These children who had been through so much and had witnessed horrific violence, had found a place of peace but it seemed that the war lived on inside them. After adoption into a peaceful family setting, they began to be instigators of crisis. It was necessary to educate the church and the orphans on the dynamic of how someone with PTSD develops behaviors that get them through the trauma. They were not prepared for the peace which created fear as it provides no distractions to keep them from imagining when the next crisis will happen. So in their overwhelming anxiety, they create a crisis themselves because they know how to survive in crisis.
For our clients, we can be that place of education, teaching these dynamics and normalizing their thoughts and reactions. Where there is understanding, the journey to peace begins.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and personal peace!
And praying for Peace on Earth,
Janine Murray, MFT
President, Inland-Empire CAMFT