Please join us for the community discussion of A Better Normal, our ongoing series in which we envision a future in which every community, organization and system has integrated practices based on ACEs science to create a better normal. The one we had wasn’t working very well.
“Grief/Family Trauma in the Time of COVID-19”
With Tian Dayton, PhD, psychologist, author. Moderated by ACEs Connection staff members Carey Sipp and Alison Cebulla
Friday, June 26th, 2020
Noon to 1pm, PDT (3 p.m. - 4 p.m. EDT)
As Tian Dayton, PhD, writes, “The uncertainty and unpredictability that are part and parcel of COVID-19 over time can produce many of the same trauma symptoms as we see when treating PTSD. But in this case, we’re not talking about a one-time event with a clear beginning, middle and end. Rather the length and duration here are unclear and the finish line is constantly in motion. We hear conflicting information and don’t know who to trust. We worry about what our future and the future of those we love might hold. This kind of daily atmosphere can lead to a kind of ‘anticipatory grief’.”
Dayton shares this quote from Stacey Colino of US News and World Report: ”Pre-trauma stress is a phenomenon you won’t find in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The symptoms are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (including grief, sadness, worry, disturbing intrusive thoughts, sleep troubles and nightmares, and avoiding situations or activities that are reminiscent of the stressful event) but in this case, they stem from anticipatory anxiety about an event that may occur in the future.”
“The symptoms we’re describing here,” notes Dayton, “like anxiety, shock, disturbing thoughts and mood shifts can, if they remain unacknowledged or unattended to, morph into PTSD. Taking the time to work through the feelings that this period is bringing forth in us as they happen, can go a long way to acting as a preventative to later problems and life complications.”
During the discussion Dayton will strive to:
- Cut through the emotional and psychological “red tape” of pre-trauma symptoms that might be keeping us immobilized.
- Discuss anxiety or depression that may be leading us to act out in abusive or neglectful ways.
- Look at symptoms that are making us want to eat, drink, or drug our way back to calm rather than adopt the healthy habits that will not only bring calm, but give us the life skills to carry forward that will enable us to change and grow.
- Discuss the need to feel our feelings as we have them, so we can heal them, in the here and now, as having mini healings now may help us avoid the need for maxi healings later.
- Discuss how pain from the past can get mixed up with today, leading us to be confused and overwhelmed.
- Discuss how the present, the very real stress of today can take its toll on our peace of mind, as uncertainty, and conflicting reports as to what to do, can evoke our fight flight, freeze response.
- Discuss the very significant anxiety about what the future will hold; what’s next? When will this be over and what will “over” look like? My world is changing; what does that mean for me?
Dayton will also help participants to look at the many faces of grief:
- Anticipatory grief
- Age correspondence reaction
- Parental Inner Child Grief
- Complicated grief/mourning
- Inhibited grief
- Cumulative grief
- Collective grief
- Normal grief
Dayton will also discuss post traumatic growth and share from her latest book, Maintaining Emotional Sobriety During COVID-19 and how it can help us see, as she says, “What’s getting triggered inside of you, as a window into your inner world, a way to get to know yourself, your coping styles and your manner of being in intimate relationships. You can learn. You can grow from adversity by meeting it with openness, humility and grace.”
Dayton is a Senior Fellow at The Meadows. She is the author of fifteen books including The Soulful Journey of Recovery, The ACoA Trauma Syndrome, Emotional Sobriety, Trauma and Addiction, Forgiving and Moving On andThe Living Stage. She has developed an approach for incorporating experiential work into treatment programs and group work, Relationship Trauma Repair RTR.
Dayton has a master’s degree in educational psychology and a PhD in clinical psychology and is a board certified trainer in psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. She is a certified Montessori teacher, and is the director of The New York Psychodrama Training Institute. A nationally renowned speaker, expert, and consultant in psychodrama, trauma and addiction, adult children of alcoholics (ACoAs) and self-help related issues, Dayton was on the faculty at NYU for eight years teaching psychodrama.
She is also a fellow of the American Society of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy ASGPP, and is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Scholar’s Award, President’s Award and Gratitude Award. Dayton is the former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy and a member of the professional standards committee. She is also the winner of The Mona Mansell Award and The Ackerman/Black Award, and has been a guest expert on NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Montel, Ricki Lake, John Walsh, Geraldo. Dayton blogs for Thrive Global and The Huffington Post.