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Here in Ventura County, people have been through a lot.  The terrible shooting at Borderline, immediately followed the Woolsey and Hills fires; so much trauma, so much loss, so much grief, so much sadness.  And of course, many people have had trauma in their lives for a long time, well before these incidents.  With trauma can come symptoms of what is commonly known as PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.  More on those later.

A common misconception is that if we simply tell the story of what happened, our trauma symptoms will decrease and we will feel better.  Many people report to me in therapy that a crisis counselor or other well-meaning individual encouraged them to tell the story, sometimes multiple times, and they ended up feeling so much worse that they had to leave the room.  They were left feeling that something must be very wrong with them since this so-called simple technique did not help, or helped briefly and then left them feeling worse shortly thereafter. [continue reading…]

Borderline shooting may create PTSD in survivors

The Borderline Bar and Grill shooting is a tragedy that hits very close to home for our community. The face that the Borderline has been seen as a very safe place to gather for young adults makes it all the worse (and the breakout of severe brush fires the very next day further upsets and frightens us).

Many people who were there, or who had family or loved ones there, will be shaken, will seek comfort with each other, and will begin to feel better day by day. Some, however, may notice intrusive and disruptive symptoms that don’t improve, or even get worse over time.

I’ve posted information below from the Mayo Clinic to help understand if what you’re experiencing might warrant a visit to a therapist to see if it is PTSD. If you think you’re symptoms fit, please don’t wait. There are several excellent techniques, including EMDR, that are extremely helpful with PTSD, and in many situations will clear it very quickly.

Also, if you end up needing treatment and had family members involved in the shooting, you may qualify for California Crime Victims Assistance, which may help pay for counseling.

Here is the information from Mayo Clinic, reprinted without permission but with attribution: [continue reading…]

You may have heard about the “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, because the book has been around since 2009, but do you know what they are?  Here is a brief synopsis:

  • Words of Affirmation — actions are nice, but some people really need to hear the words too
  • Quality Time — full attention counts for a lot
  • Gifts — it’s literally the thoughtfulness that matters, not the money
  • Acts of Service — feeling taken care of
  • Physical Touch — not just sex, but all types of physical affection

What gets tricky here is that each of us has our favorite ways of receiving love, so we tend to express love in the same way.  But our spouse may need to receive love in their favorite ways, so our best efforts may not come across.  So we need to learn to speak each other’s language.

To see a longer description, here’s a great link.  And to learn more about your own particular style, go to the source, at Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages website.


I’m excited to say that I’ll be giving a talk on “Getting Past the Holiday Blues” at the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce Wellness Wednesday meeting.  It happens Wednesday, January 17, from 12-1 pm, at the Chamber offices at 40 W Cochran St # 100, Simi Valley.  The phone number for more info is 805-526-3900.

If you can’t make it at that time, fear not.  I’ll be posting the entire talk here after it’s over.  The most certain way to know when it’s posted is to subscribe to our blog — just look to your right on our sidebar.  Or follow our Facebook page at Facebook.com/Families.Counseling.Simi.Valley , and I’ll post the link to it there as well.

I hope you can make it.  Please share this with anyone who might be interested.  It should be fun and informative.

Stevensons Ranch FIreAll of California has been dealing with fire this season.  First in Northern California, and more recently in Southern California, it seems that all of us know at least one person who has been directly and severely impacted by the fires.

Here are two links to very helpful information that I encourage you to share.  As always, if someone finds these tools aren’t enough, please encourage them to call for individual help from a licensed therapist.

CAMFT tip sheet (California Assoc. of Marriage and Family Therapists)

More CAMFT tips in brochure form