For the past year, I have been collaborating with Beth Fehlbaum to write a book entitled: Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt. The first draft of this book is in the process of editorial submission and review but here we begin to discuss its purpose and anticipated impact.
An overview of the book is provided below as an introduction to what we think is a unique and entertaining fusion of non-fiction self-help writing with fictional storylines of true-to-life trauma survivors as they face the arduous process of rebuilding life after catastrophe. Coming entries to this blog will elucidate and augment both major and minor topics examined in Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt. We welcome you into the inside processes of creating and disseminating this important new book.
Exposure to traumatic events has become the “black plague” of the 21st century: it’s everywhere! It is generally believed 70% of all people will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime. 20% of those will go on to develop PTSD. Thus, recovery from trauma has become a major health and human services issues.
This book addresses recovery from trauma in a highly unique dual format. First, the book is a non-fiction treatise of the current scientific and clinical understanding of the formation of PTSD and its treatment. At the same time, the book is a fictional depiction of seven individuals being treated by a professional psychologist for PTSD secondary to a variety of traumatic events. The fictional sections of the book are used to illustrate the scientific and clinical non-fictional material presented. The combination of the conceptual information with emotionally-charged human examples yields more complete understanding; one that leads the reader to take the action required to recover from traumatic experiences.
While exposure to trauma results in strong negative emotional and behavioral experiences, PTSD happens when the trauma victim gets stuck in a cycle of negative emotion and harmful avoidance behavior to the exclusion of pursuing and/or approaching meaningful and valued life activity. In fact, over 40% of those exposed to trauma will eventually say they are stronger for having been through such a life-changing event. This leads to a vital question: what is missing in the 60% who don’t experience “post-traumatic growth”? This book carefully outlines why some trauma victims get better; even stronger, and some don’t.
In fact, it is because of the very nature of being stuck that trauma victims with PTSD find it very difficult to seek and complete treatment. Their lives remain in a suspended negative state of fear, shame, anger, isolation and hiding. These patients think no one can understand them and that nothing can be done to help them.
Fortunately, modern psychological treatments are highly effective, but victims first must be convinced to come out of hiding and seek the truth about how their lives have changed. Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt convinces those victims in a unique and effective manner.
This book will appeal to four groups:
- Reluctant patients who are stuck in the pain-avoidance cycle: they can find hope from the narratives of seven fictional patients brought to life in the book whose recovery process is described in an engaging format.
- Motivated patients: those ready and eager for treatment, can find help from the parts of the book which describe in clear terms the science behind their PTSD symptoms and the collaborative process of treatment for those symptoms.
- Therapists who treat patients with PTSD will find it useful to have the book on their shelves to share with either motivated or reluctant PTSD clients.
- General readers of fiction and non-fiction alike will find the characters and their recovery stories highly informative as well as entertaining. General readers will also find the scientific explanations of PTSD psychopathology and its effective treatment provided in the book to be enlightening and useful.