Recently John and I decided to paint the interior of our house. Before painting we had to decide what color(s) we wanted. This meant deciding what kind of feeling we wanted in the house, what kind of accents to highlight, etc.
When John brought home a book of swatches and laid it on the table the amount of choices was dizzying. Rather than go in a million directions at once I checked in with my intuition. What felt good to me? John did the same and we came to a joint conclusion: a color named homesong, which is a beautiful, soothing, healing and (as my mother calls it, ‘refreshing’) soft green.
How to develop a flexible PTSD recovery program is a little like looking at paint swatches and learning how to make a decision that feels good through the maze of overwhelming choices. What I love to see are practitioners who promote our ability to heal through as many options as possible. Courtney Armstrong, in her new book, The Therapeutic “Aha!” , is just the kind of practitioner that helps survivors heal by letting them choose the process(es) that feel most comfortable to them.
Opening the book with chapters about the emotional brain (and how to engage it), how to engage with yourself and your healing professional, plus the value of specifying healing goals, Armstrong lays a strong foundation for allowing you to be you during your recovery. From there she moves on to offering ideas about how to locate the root of emotional conflict and reversing trauma with memory reconsolidation (a much more gentle process than telling your story over and over and over again!).
Throughout the book Armstrong offers vignettes that illustrate how she applies these concepts with her clients, which offers a slew of ideas for how the reader can do so as well.
Finally, the book moves into my favorite part — the part that is the palette of colors you can choose for your PTSD recovery program. Armstrong, whose training is grounded in the traditional pschotherapy model, has worked very hard to broaden her own vision so that her approach to healing is as varied as all the colors in the rainbow. Part III of The Therapeutic “Aha!” presents such healing options as inspirational imagery, compelling stories, humor, play, rhythm, music, poetry and mindful movement.
While the book is written expressly for clinicians it’s conversational tone and approach to the material is tremendously useful to survivors and caregivers too. In fact, any reader will finish the book with a more open mind, more activated creativity and more empowered sense of how to create a PTSD recovery program that leads to success.
In the end, what we all want (including me during my healing) is a PTSD recovery program — and life — that makes us feel soothed, refreshed, and invigorated in a life-affirming way. Armstrong’s book will help you achieve that. And then, I strongly suggest finding a wall to paint in your own house. Choosing the color that most feels good to you; entering the meditative trance of painting; solving the problems you encounter; enjoying the finished result are all terrific elements of a healing process that allows you to be more in control more often while experiencing new things.