Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing

Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing

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"[A] rare combination of solid scholarship, clinically useful methods, and passionate advocacy for those who have suffered trauma." —Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

From elementary schools to psychotherapy offices, mindfulness meditation is an increasingly mainstream practice. At the same time, trauma remains a fact of life: the majority of us will experience a traumatic event in our lifetime, and up to 20% of us will develop posttraumatic stress. This means that anywhere mindfulness is being practiced, someone in the room is likely to be struggling with trauma.

At first glance, this appears to be a good thing: trauma creates stress, and mindfulness is a proven tool for reducing it. But the reality is not so simple.

Drawing on a decade of research and clinical experience, psychotherapist and educator David Treleaven shows that mindfulness meditation—practiced without an awareness of trauma—can exacerbate symptoms of traumatic stress. Instructed to pay close, sustained attention to their inner world, survivors can experience flashbacks, dissociation, and even retraumatization.

This raises a crucial question for mindfulness teachers, trauma professionals, and survivors everywhere: How can we minimize the potential dangers of mindfulness for survivors while leveraging its powerful benefits?

Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness offers answers to this question. Part I provides an insightful and concise review of the histories of mindfulness and trauma, including the way modern neuroscience is shaping our understanding of both. Through grounded scholarship and wide-ranging case examples, Treleaven illustrates the ways mindfulness can help—or hinder—trauma recovery.

Part II distills these insights into five key principles for trauma-sensitive mindfulness. Covering the role of attention, arousal, relationship, dissociation, and social context within trauma-informed practice, Treleaven offers 36 specific modifications designed to support survivors’ safety and stability. The result is a groundbreaking and practical approach that empowers those looking to practice mindfulness in a safe, transformative way.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393709780
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/13/2018
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 57,370
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

David A. Treleaven, PhD, is an educator and trauma professional whose work focuses on the intersection of trauma, mindfulness, and social justice. Trained in counseling psychology at the University of British Columbia, he received his doctorate in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. He has been studying mindfulness for twenty years and has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Table of Contents

Foreword Willoughby Britton ix

Introduction: Why Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness? xv

Part I Foundations of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness

1 The Ubiquity of Trauma: Visible and Invisible Forms 3

2 Meeting the Moment: Mindfulness and Traumatic Stress 23

3 Shaped by the Past: A Brief History of Mindfulness and Trauma 44

4 The Brain and Body in Trauma and Mindfulness 68

Part II The Five Principles of Trauma-sensitive Mindfulness

5 Stay Within the Window of Tolerance: The Role of Arousal 87

6 Shift Attention to Support Stability: Avoiding the Fear/Immobility Cycle 112

7 Keep the Body in Mind: Working with Dissociation 150

8 Practice in Relationship: Supporting Safety and Stability in Survivors 150

9 Understand Social Context: Working Effectively Across Difference 177

Conclusion: Transforming Trauma 201

Acknowledgments 207

References 211

Endnotes 223

Index 233

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