Success Begins with Baby Steps
One small step forward, then another… Babies fall down and choose to get back up over and over again; their curiosity for the world around them outweighing their fear of the unknown. Why is it that adults seem to forget this simple concept and waste so much time complaining and judging ourselves and others, instead of just getting back up?
Many of my adult clients have been pushed over time and time again, making it difficult to have hope and believe things can be better and others will love and care for them. This is especially difficult for adults with Borderline Personality Disorder or those that have experienced abuse or neglect. This is why play and the therapeutic relationship is so important. Our brains are organs of experience. When life teaches us other people will hurt us, it is quite a large task to be willing to trust others, especially a therapist.
The beautiful thing about play is it creates a joyful experience in our brain, our bodies and our heart. Repeated playful, nurturing activities can also repair the impact of trauma in our brains. It also releases “feel good” neurotransmitters that act as a buffer against depression and anxiety. When we play, we let go of rigid thinking and embrace the present moment.
Adults that endure chronic childhood trauma learn not to trust themselves or people and often engage in addictive behaviors or become dependent on addictive substances, in addition to often becoming emotionally reactive when they perceive criticism or negativity from others. This may include drugs, alcohol, television, video games, Facebook and social media.
A couple of years ago I worked with a 7 year old addicted to television. She was a victim of sexual abuse by a trusted family friend, her parents were severely overweight and also had difficulty with social relationships. She had difficulty sharing feelings and also had characteristics of ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.
Netflix, cartoons and television became her friends and her way to self-regulate and self-soothe. Her parents recognized they had allowed her to watch too much television and when they attempted to reduce and then eliminate screen time she began harming herself. Play therapy helped her to feel more engaged and connected with others, while developing an awareness of her own physiological reactions to specific emotions.