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Connection is a Beacon

September 5, 2017

Advances in the relational neurosciences are making many things so much more clear.  But my favorite thing that has emerged as a truth is that our systems are always driven toward coherence.  Always driven toward healing.  Always driven toward relationship.  Always.  The drive is innate.  The drive cannot be taken away.  It can certainly be covered up.  It can be buried for 60, 70, 90 years.  It can be buried beneath what feels like an infinite amount of protectors.  But it’s there.

beacon

Photo by matthaeus on Unsplash

In fact we can be sure that the intensity of a person’s protectors- the parts of themselves that keep everyone else from seeing that true part of them that is seeking connection- is directly proportionate to the intensity of their pain.  To the intensity of the hurt they experienced inside relationship- or the intensity of the hurt they experienced without a relationship to organize and buffer the pain.

The work of Jaak Panksepp shows us how humans react when our seeking system (innate) isn’t met.  We first experience separation panic and grief.  If we still aren’t met it moves to fear.  If we STILL aren’t met we move into rage.

It’s reallllly hard to meet someone who is moving toward us in rage.  In fact, it’s scary.

Our raging little people (and big people too) need connection.  Boundaries, of course.  But ultimately what they need is connection.  I promise you they are longing for it.  Desperate for it.  And they struggle to receive it.  When connection seems like it might be available, they could have another protector come up to reject it.  Because receiving connection NOW reminds them of the unendurable deep grief that arose when they longed for connection before and it never came.

But rest assured then even if 10000000000 protectors come up to push away the connection, there is still a part of their system that is yearning for, seeking, and believing that the connection is there.  It’s possible.

Being met with the thing you’ve been longing for your whole life is filled with tremendous grief.  A grief that the system cannot take all at once.  Our bodies are so smart to titrate the amount of connection we can take so that it titrates the amount of grief we can manage.

Hang in there.  Believe in the inevitability of connection.  It is an absolute truth.  It’s a beacon in the dark distance that we are inherently driven to move toward.

~

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

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My child sets me up to say “NO”

August 15, 2017

WHY oh WHY does your child ask questions that they absolutely know will be answered with a big fat “NO.”

“Mom, can I ride my bike to the gas station so I can get a candy bar?” (Your child is 8 and it’s across a busy highway).

“Dad, can you bring me to the library right now?” (It’s 9pm and you are already in your PJs).

“Mom can we have grilled cheese for dinner?” (After you’ve just announced you are out of bread).

Why does your child seem to delight in causing a fight?  In asking an impossible question and then blowing up over your “no”?

Why does my child set me up to say -NO---Disorganized attachment.

80% of children with a history of trauma, abuse, or neglect meet criteria for disorganized attachment.  So it’s likely that your child has pockets of disorganized attachment.

This means that when your child was first experiencing relationship, their need for attachment and connection was paired with terror and fear.

That the very person who they were supposed to turn to when feeling afraid was the person actually causing the fear.

I explain disorganized attachment much more thoroughly in my blog article “The Tragedy of Disorganized Attachment” as well as the webinar “Untangling Disorganized Attachment.”

Disorganized attachment is one of the reasons your child is setting you up to say “no.”

Your child has learned that when they go to an attachment figure with a need, they are met with rejection.  These earlier experiences have laid the foundation for all future relationship, especially their relationship with you.  Humans are both always driven toward healing and yet always driven to do more of the same.  Your child is unconsciously and not purposefully recreating the pattern of disorganized attachment.  I have a need.  You reject me.

So, what can you do about it?

The best thing you can do that will impact long-term healing and not just short-term behavior change is to surprise your child’s nervous system whenever possible.  Your child is expecting a no??  Find a way to say yes.  Your child is expecting a rejection? Find a way to bring them closer.

Maybe one evening when you are feeling particularly regulated and your child asks you to bring him to the store at 10pm, say yes.  Happily.  Or she asks you to bring her to the library (which is closed).  Say yes.  Drive there, even though you know it’s closed.  Offer to run to the grocery store to get bread for that grilled cheese you’re pretty sure your child doesn’t even really want and only asked for because he knows you are out of bread.  Tell your child they can ride their bike to the convenience store across the busy highway because you’ll go with them.  Say YES when your child expects you to say no.  This surprise in their nervous system will actually lay one brick in repairing the foundation of their belief that attachment figures are rejecting.  Eventually those bricks add up and the foundation becomes stronger and stronger.

Obviously, you can’t do this all the time.  You don’t need to.  But be on the look-out when times your child is expecting a no, is actually setting you up to say no, and you could give a yes (even if it’s ridiculous or inconvenient- as long as it’s not unsafe, give it a whirl).

~

PS- Don’t forget to check out my upcoming webinar on Wednesday August 16, just in time for back-to-school…A Trauma Informed Approach to Behaviors in the Classroom.

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

{WEBINAR} A Trauma Informed Approach to Behaviors in the Classroom

August 11, 2017

This webinar was LIVE on August 19th.  If you missed it, it is now available for purchase on my website!  You receive all the same benefits, including lifetime and unlimited access to the webinar AND permission to share it with your child’s education team- from now until forever!!  www.GobbelCounseling.com/webinars

Sending our children with a history of trauma back-to-school comes with a huge mix of emotions.  Excitement, relief, anticipation, dread.  Hands-down the most common school-related challenge facing the families I work with is the behavior management tools used by teachers in traditional classrooms.  Levels, color-charts, stop-lights….each is the same approach packaged a little bit differently.  These approaches- with their focus on behaviors, rewards, and consequences- usually INCREASES stress in our children, causing even more difficult behaviors.  At the very least, they aren’t helping us work toward our goals of increased regulation, connection, and felt-safety for our children (which ultimately will result in improved behavior).

Two years ago I published my 10-page letter to teachers which outlined a Trauma Informed Approach to Behaviors in the Classroom.  You can read and download that letter by clicking HERE.  The letter is succinct (only 10 pages- doesn’t take too much time to read) yet long enough to be helpful (a blog article just doesn’t cut it).  It’s steeped in science with scholarly citations, yet written in a language that is clear, down-to-earth, and easy to understand.  The letter helps teachers understand WHY these traditional behavioral modification techniques don’t work for children with a history of trauma, and then provides an excellent alternative that is easy to implement and integrate with the level system they are already using.

Moving into a new school year, I’ve updated the letter and turned it into a webinar!!!

Ready to register?!  CLICK HERE!!!

The webinar is next Wednesday, August 16th and everyone who registers will receive LIFETIME and UNLIMITED access to the recording.  This means you do NOT have to attend live!!

BUT WAIT!  This webinar is a little unique.  The information in the webinar will help you advocate for your child in school, but really the people who need to watch the webinar are everyone on your child’s education team!!

SO. Everyone who purchases the webinar receives permission to share the webinar with their child’s teacher and education team! And remember- access to the webinar is LIFETIME and UNLIMITED.  This means you can show the webinar to your child’s teachers from now until they go to college (or at least through elementary school, as this webinar does focus on behavior techniques used most commonly in elementary school settings).

AND.  I’ve updated my original letter-to-the-teacher, which will also be provided to each and every person who registers.

Basically, by registering for this webinar you are arming yourself with information, AND getting access to resources that you can give to your child’s teacher.  Resources that are short enough (10 page letter and one-hour webinar) that the teacher won’t feel overwhelmed, yet long enough to actually be helpful and practical.

AND THESE RESOURCES WILL NEVER GO AWAY.  You will receive lifetime and unlimited access.

All for only $25.  It’s important to me that these resources are available to everyone who needs them.

Ready for more details or to register?

CLICK HERE!!!

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Jump OUT of the Trauma Tornado- LYING {webinar}

June 18, 2017

I remember driving into work a few years ago, really mulling around and trying to embody the level of chaos that so many of my clients were dealing with in their day to day life.  It felt swirling, cyclical and self-sustaining – I can feel into it even now as I sit and write this.  Behavior, reaction, repeat.  Behavior, reaction, repeat.  Over and over again.  Like a funnel cloud.  An actual tornado- with that swirling intensity that has the capacity to destroy anything in it’s path.

The trauma tornado.

(Want to read the original blog post?  CLICK HERE.)

To be honest, I feel a bit awkward now about that metaphor.  It feels a little trite, a little catchy, a little silly.  But I keep hearing from families that the metaphor is anything but trite or silly.  It’s unfortunately extremely accurate.

There are so many different ways to help a child who has experienced complex trauma.  It’s what I find most exciting and most overwhelming about my work- the level of complexity.  The trauma tornado is just one metaphorical piece of the puzzle, but I have repeatedly found it to be a helpful metaphor – not only for understanding the WHY behind the behavior (critically important) but also because it gives us some clues about what to do about.

 

I’m kicking off a summer series of webinars in which we’ll look at several challenging behaviors through the lens of the trauma tornado.

Ready to register?  Interested in more details?  CLICK HERE.

In the first webinar on June 23, we’ll go in depth into the cycle of the trauma tornado, and then focus on LYING.  I’ll help you determine where and how you’re getting sucked into the tornado, which should then open up some ideas on how you can begin to jump out.  Because unfortunately, we can’t ask our children to be the ones who jump out; it must start with us- the parents.

Sound interesting?  Here’s the details.

WHAT:                Jump OUT of the Trauma Tornado- LYING (webinar)

WHEN:                June 23, 2017.  2pm eastern, 1pm central, 12pm mountain, 11am pacific.

But really, WHENEVER because everyone who registers will receive the recording.  You absolutely do NOT have to attend live.  The recording will be yours forever, to listen to as often as you like. 

WHERE:              Webinar!!!  Your home, or office, or the library, or your back porch.  With coffee, lemonade, or wine.  You decide!!!

FEE:                     $14!!!  Really.  Only $14.

 

There’s nothing to lose here!

Lying is probably the most COMMON frustration facing the families I work with, so I figured it was the perfect behavior to tackle first.

Ready to register?  Interested in more details?  CLICK HERE.

~

 

 

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Movement & Music- a workshop for therapists

May 22, 2017

Are you looking for ways to weave movement and music into your therapy work with children?

You know about the importance of movement and music for lower brain healing, but aren’t sure how to bring it into the therapy room?

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN: June 30, 2017

WHERE: Sol Center for Healing & Wellness; 13805 Ann Pl., Austin, TX 78728

FEE: $145 (register before midnight on June 15)

$160 (registration after June 15)

CEUs: 6, including APT

Ready to register?!?!  CLICK HERE!

DESCRIPTION

Children who have experienced developmental trauma often present with unusual behaviors- both in and out of the play therapy room. This workshop will help play therapists feel comfortable leaning into nervous system dysregulation, reframing misbehavior as opportunities to soothe the limbic system through “bottom up” play therapy techniques involving movement and music.

This innovative and introductory training that will guide the attendees through the most current neuroscience research (including Bruce Perry, MD, Bessel van der Kolk, MD, Stephen Porges, MD, Peter Levine, PhD, and Daniel Siegel, MD) and demonstrate how to put theory into practice. Examples of creative ways to use music and movement in play therapy to shift the child’s emotional state, maintain regulation, and renegotiate traumatic associations without overwhelming the client will be explained and demonstrated. Participants will learn a framework (based on the Alert Program and Zones of Regulation) to help children develop the capacity to monitor (notice) and modify (change) their state of regulation or dysregulation.

This training will include didactic and experiential learning; participants should dress comfortably and be prepared to move and play. Activities will allow the participants to experience ways to incorporate music and movement into the play therapy process with children. Attendees will leave this training with practical tools, strategies and applications that enhance the client’s capacity to connect with others, process trauma without becoming overwhelmed, and facilitate healing.

Intentionally engaging the brainstem through movement, music, and play provides valuable practice coming back into a regulated state from a dysregulated state, deepens connection and attunement between therapist and client, models for the parent how to help their child through dysregulation, brings high level brain functions back online, and enhances learning. Attendees will be able to use music and movement in play therapy in a purposeful way that leads to more enjoyment in their play therapy sessions and works toward therapist goals of improved regulation and ultimately trauma healing.

Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will be able to explain the importance of working through a client’s dysregulation in the play therapy room with connection and attunement instead of limits and consequences.
  • Attendees with learn how to incorporate music and movement into their play therapy process to help their client become more regulated in and out of session.
  • Attendees will develop play therapy treatment plans based on viewing challenging behavior as dysregulation of the nervous system as opposed to misbehavior.
  • Attendees with learn ways to invite the hypo- and hyper-aroused nervous system back into the window of tolerance using music and movement in the play therapy room
  • Attendees will learn a system to teach children through play therapy to monitor (notice) and modify (change) their inner state.

Ready to register?

CLICK HERE!!!

Don’t hesitate to email me with questions!!!!  I’d love to see you there!  We are going to have tons of fun!

~

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Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Untangling Disorganized Attachment

April 27, 2017

Children with early attachment trauma often have bizarre, confusing, and unpredictable behaviors.  In fact, one of the most predictable things about a child with a history of early attachment trauma is that they are unpredictable 🙂

UPDATE!!!!  This recorded webinar is now available for purchase on my website!!!  CLICK HERE!!!

The tragedy of disorganized attachment can explain much of these contradictory and oftentimes maddening behaviors.  Metaphorically, attachment trauma does to a child’s nervous system what you would do to a car engine if you kept  the gas and the brake both pressed to the floor at the same time.

Don’t try it.  It’s bad.

Making Sense

Understanding disorganized attachment can help you see your child behavior through a new lens and make sense of their seemingly nonsensical ways.  This is good for BOTH of you- you will definitely feel less crazy and your child will feel more connected to you.

I blogged about the tragedy of disorganized attachment a while back, and I then turned that article into a conference workshop.  NOW I get to share it with EVERYONE by creating a webinar!!!

Disorganized attachment can be a little confusing- so here’s a webinar that puts it all into plain English.  I literally guarantee that you will understand disorganized attachment when the webinar is over.  If you don’t- email me and I’ll refund you the $19.  Promise.

Untangle Disorganized Attachment

Once you understand disorganized attachment, you’ll start to see ways you can untangle it.  But just to make it more simple for you, I’m making this a two-part webinar.  Part two will be all about practical things you can do to  help untangle your child’s disorganized attachment.  The steps are actually quite simple.  Very difficult.  Yet simple.

Part 1 of the webinar will air LIVE next Wednesday evening, but EVERYONE who registers will receive a link to the recording.  Part 1 will put disorganized attachment into plain English, and when I send you the link to the recording I will also send a link to the prerecorded Part 2.  I’ve decided to prerecord part 2 and send it out with the recording to Part 1 so you don’t have to wait a moment longer for the practical tools.

This two-part webinar is only $19!!!!!!!

Are you ready to register?  CLICK HERE!!!

Details:

When: Wednesday May 3, 2017; 8pm eastern, 7pm central, 6pm mountain, 5pm pacific.  OR WHENEVER because you will receive a recording!!!  The link to the prerecorded Part 2 will be sent to you at the same time as the recording of Part 1.

Where: Your house!  No need to get dressed or get childcare!  You can wear your favorite jammies and sip wine or hot cocoa.  You can even sip loudly, because no one will hear you!!!

What: Untangling Disorganized Attachment

How Much: $19.  $19!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That’s it!!!!  For a two-part webinar with a therapist who specializes in working with children with complex trauma.  And for the recording to BOTH!!!  This is a great deal.

How to RegisterCLICK HERE.  You’ll be able to review the details and then register for the LIVE and RECORDED webinar.

REMEMBER!!!  This is a two-part webinar.  Part one will air LIVE on Wednesday May 3.  Within about two days, you’ll receive a link to the prerecorded part 2 as well as a link to the recording of Part 1.  This means you do not have to be available to attend part 1 live!

I can’t wait to see you there!!!

UPDATE!!!!  This recorded webinar is now available for purchase on my website!!!  CLICK HERE!!!

~

060814_1243_TheTragedyo1.jpg

 

 

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Can you notice a moment of being OK?

March 6, 2017

{Written on Friday March 3}…At this very moment, I’m gazing at a lazy river in Central Florida- and it truly is the laziest river I’ve ever seen.  What a brilliant idea to have a moms retreat in Florida in the off season.  It’s warm and quiet, and I’m in my bathing suit, preparing to speak to a group of moms who have landed in Orlando from all over the country.

i-am-ok

I’m been given the privilege of being one of people who kicks off the weekend for the moms at the Beyond Trauma and Attachment (BeTA) Moms Retreat, and I’m going to take a stab at talking about how they can begin rediscover who they are.  I don’t know these beautiful ladies but I know a whole lot of moms who walk a similar path of parenting a child impacted by trauma.  I know how ups and downs of that journey, and I know how easy it is for moms to lose sight of themselves…to become virtually unrecognizable to themselves.

If I can connect to the hearts of just a few of them, I’ll have done my job to the best of my ability.

Really, we’ve got the concept of self-care all wrong.  Or at least I always have.  And most people I know, too.  I also know that most moms in the trenches scoff and roll their eyes when anyone mentions self-care.  As if there is time for that.

So if self-care isn’t working for the moms who need it most, it’s high time to redefine what self-care even is.

I’m going to encourage these moms to get present in the here and now.  That should be relatively easy this weekend, when they are cared for, when there is no chaos, when no one needs them for anything.  It will be a great place to start.  The thing about living in chaos is that we stop living in the moment because the moment is too hard.  I’m going to challenge these moms to consider- is it?  Is it too hard to be present?  Or could being present make hard things seem less hard??

My journey to Orlando has been relatively short but I’ve been closely watching myself, seeing if I can really walk my talk.

I’m technically at work- but I’m in a beautiful, quiet resort.  It’s 75 degrees, barely, and the sky is gorgeous.  I rode on an airplane- by myself.  So many opportunities for relishing in the goodness of life.

So I started soaking it all in when I was still at the airport.  I purposefully and intentionally enjoyed my morning coffee.  Someone else made it and it was delightful.  I enjoyed the quiet peace of the 2.5 hour flight.  I calmly reviewed my notes for today, noticing that I’m prepared.  Sigh of relief as I take that in.  These amazing ladies gifted me a massage.  I stayed present, yet relaxed, enjoying every moment of being cared for.  I’ve walked the grounds, enjoying the most perfect day imaginable- 75 degrees and blue skies?  Are you kidding?  And now I’m working.  In my bathing suit.  At a quiet, lovely pool.  Enjoying the shrieks of children having a blast, while also noticing that this resort must only be at 15% capacity.  It’s so peaceful.  A sweet lady just walked by and said “Wow, nice way to work.”  Yes ma’am, yes it sure is.

I mindfully and intentionally enjoy these moments and imagine them nourishing my mind and body.  This…THIS is self-care.  Taking this time to rest into the ease of life.

I’m lucky, I’m experiencing a whole lot of ease today.  A lot of quiet.  I know that might seem impossible for you.  I challenge you to look for what’s hidden right in plain sight- are there moments of ease you are overlooking?  It’s probably not a quiet pool in central Florida, but maybe it’s a quiet walk to the mailbox?  Or five minutes alone in a shower that is the perfect temperature.

Get present.  Notice those moments.  Over time, these small moments really do add up.

~

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Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

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