Authors: Stanley Block
“While on active duty at the Bamberg US Army Base in Germany, I saw hundreds of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat and operational stress reaction (COSR). In my professional opinion, the mind-body bridging technique featured in
Mind-Body Workbook for PTSD
is the single most effective method for the treatment PTSD and COSR.”
—Major Philip Davis, Ph.D., US Army Reserve
“Without the mind-body bridging tools in
Mind-Body Workbook for PTSD,
I would be dead. Not only has it saved my life, but made it better than it was before I was deployed.”
—Sergeant First Class Kip Day, Utah National Guard and combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom
“Drawing upon recent advances in the field of trauma recovery, the authors have created a unique holistic approach to helping trauma survivors. Their step-by-step method of helping readers better understand and cope with the all-important mind-body connection and its relationship to the low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, sleeping difficulties, and other common emotional, physical, social, and mental aftereffects of trauma, is truly brilliant.”
—Aphrodite Matsakis, Ph.D., author of
I Can’t Get Over It
Trust After Trauma
, and eight other books on trauma
“This scientifically sound and comprehensive
Mind-Body Workbook for PTSD
has broken new ground by offering highly effective strategies for mental health treatment. In my twenty years of clinical experience working with complex PTSD and other mental disorders, I have found mind-body bridging, the method taught in this self-help book, to be the most tolerated and effective treatment approach among other evidence-based models, including cognitive processing therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, prolonged exposure, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Results have been impressive compared to the evidence-based treatments used in my practice. This workbook is compelling and instructive in its ability to help clients develop sufficient resources for sustainable self-healing and empowerment. I have been using mind-body bridging for the past three years in individual and group treatments. I have treated over 100 clients using mind-body bridging and have had no clients terminate treatment.”
—Lois Waldron, LCSW, Springfield, MA
The information contained in this workbook is intended to be educational. The authors and publisher are in no way liable for any use or misuse of the information. The ideas, techniques, and suggestions in this workbook are not intended as a substitute for expert medical, substance abuse, or mental health diagnosis, advice, or treatment. If you are under the care of health care professionals, please consult with them before altering your treatment plan. All names and identifying information of individuals in this workbook have been disguised to protect their anonymity.
Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books
Copyright © 2010 by Stanley H. Block & Carolyn Bryant Block
New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
5674 Shattuck Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
All Rights Reserved
Acquired by Jess O’Brien; Cover design by Amy Shoup; Edited by Nelda Street
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Block, Stanley H.
Mind-body workbook for PTSD : a 10-week program for healing after trauma / Stanley H. Block and Carolyn Bryant Block.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 978-1-57224-923-3 (pbk.) -- ISBN 978-1-57224-924-0 (pdf ebook) -- ISBN 978-1-60882-179-2 (epub)
1. Post-traumatic stress disorder--Treatment--Problems, exercises, etc. 2. Psychic trauma--Treatment--Problems, exercises, etc. 3. Mind and body--Problems, exercises, etc. I. Block, Carolyn Bryant. II. Title.
Our teaching about trauma is primarily influenced by the heroic way individuals suffering from trauma have shared with us the ways they used mind-body bridging to free themselves from the past. Although we have not specifically referenced other trauma workers, we appreciate their pioneering work and have used many of their concepts, such as secondary wounding and trauma triggers. The clinicians using, developing, and refining mind-body bridging have our gratitude. Deserving of specific mention is Rich Landward, a gifted trauma expert who developed most of the advanced PTSD maps and whose feedback guided this workbook’s development. Don Glover, Harold Price, Kevin Webb, Theresa McCormick, and Joe Boberg have all contributed significantly to this workbook. We greatly appreciate the research efforts of Yoshi Nakamura and Derrik Tollefson to establish a firm evidence basis for mind-body bridging. Carol Ann Kent expanded our ten-week generic plan into a workbook format. This work would not have been possible without the editorial supervision and skill of Andrea Peters. And finally, we found the direction from the editors of New Harbinger Publications to be most helpful.
You can have a traumatic experience that’s so horrible no one else in the world understands what you’ve been through. Rather than being healed and leaving a scar that blends into the past, your traumatic experience erupts again and again, disturbing every part of your life. Many times, this flare-up of uncontrolled thoughts, flashbacks, avoidance of certain situations, numb feelings, and need to be on high alert (hypervigilance) happens daily. Such flare-ups even happen at night, causing trouble sleeping, bad dreams, and even nightmares. These troubling symptoms leave you feeling irritable, angry, and alone. The past simply won’t become the past, and life feels like hell! If this describes you, this workbook is for you.
Trauma, Stress, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Trauma is a sudden, intense physical or emotional (or both) event that harms the person experiencing it. A trauma can be a single event or repeated events. We all have had traumatic experiences. They include: child abuse, childhood bullying, illness, accidents, domestic violence, rape, losses, natural disasters, and wartime situations. Our ability to heal from these experiences varies.
Stress is the body’s signal that the traumatic event has drained our physical and emotional resources. Often stress from such past events goes away on its own. But in many cases, the symptoms of stress never go away, or they come back later. Sometimes the stress symptoms (such as intense fear or horror, helplessness, the need to avoid things, trouble sleeping, and irritability) disrupt our lives so much that they qualify for a clinical diagnosis.
After carefully studying the symptoms of trauma sufferers, psychiatrists have agreed on a category of diagnosis called
post-traumatic stress disorder
). PTSD symptoms are present for at least one month after a stressful traumatic event that causes you significantproblems with functioning in relationships, at work, or in other important areas of life.
Here’s a brief description of these symptoms, as summarized from the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM
Can Your Mind-Body Heal Itself?
With hundreds of books on the subject and even more websites, PTSD is a well-studied condition. There’s plenty of information about what PTSD is and what to do for it—but you don’t need more information. So why write another book? This practical workbook is based on the fact that your
—mind and body as a unified whole—knows how to heal itself after trauma. Sound radical? It is!
I’ll bet you’re thinking,
If I have this great healing power, why do I still have all these symptoms?
That’s the most important question you could possibly ask. The latest in brain research (Boly et al. 2008a), along with over a decade of clinical experience from physicians, psychologists, social workers, and researchers (Tollefson et al. 2009), has given us the answer. When overactive, a system in our bodies known as the
) disrupts our natural self-healing processes. This workbook gives you easy daily exercises that will help you recognize and defuse this interference, letting your self-healing process resume.
The Identity System (I-System)
Everyone has an I-System that’s either active or resting (Block and Block 2007). The I-System is active when you have PTSD symptoms. You know the I-System is on when your mind is cluttered with spinning thoughts, your body is tense, your awareness shrinks, and you have trouble thinking or doing things. It’s called the I-System because we falsely
the contents of the spinning thoughts and the physical distress they cause. It’s crucial to recognize the I-System, because when it’s active, it disrupts your body’s natural regulation and healing. When you reexperience your trauma, when you’re driven to avoid certain everyday situations, and when you’re emotionally numb and on high alert, it’s because your I-System is on. You live your everyday life and see the world through the pain of your PTSD. You will learn more about the I-System, in both its active and resting states, as you read on.
What Is Mind-Body Bridging?
uses both the mind and the body to build a bridge from a condition (state) of impaired healing to one in which they heal themselves. This workbook offers mind-body tools (techniques and practices) to quiet your I-System. As you will see for yourself, these tools are very easy to apply in your daily life, and they work quickly. In working with patients, we’ve found that when you are given tools aimed directly at quieting down the I-System, PTSD symptoms begin to naturally heal on their own (Nakamura et al. forthcoming). Mind-body bridging lets your self-healing resume.
Brain Basis for Mind-Body Bridging
Brain research (Weissman et al. 2006) has found two networks of functioning with different features: an executive network and a default-mode network. The
coordinates moment by moment how we see the world, think, make decisions, and act. It’s responsible for the direction and management of our life. The
is at work when we’re having exaggerated thoughts about ourselves and our experiences. We have a harder time responding to situations as they come up. Researchers have found that when the default-mode network is active, the executive network is inactive (Boly et al. 2008b). So only one network can be in the driver’s seat at a time.
Using a technology called fMRI, scientists and doctors can now take pictures of how the brain changes while it’s busy. Shaun Ho (Block, Ho, and Nakamura 2009) suggests that the I-System corresponds to the default-mode network, and mind-body bridging corresponds to the executive network. Brain research (Boly et al. 2008b) shows that when the default-mode network is not overactive, your executive network takes charge, regulating your mind so you function at your best. The I-System is responsible for keeping your PTSD symptoms going. In working with our patients, we find that mind-body bridging quietsthe I-System, letting us heal ourselves from trauma.