Authors Daniel Mintie and Julie Staples bring together the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy and kundalini yoga to aid those suffering from PTSD. The methods appear simple: identify the trauma behavior, look at the beliefs behind it, identify the emotional costs of those beliefs, change the beliefs to something with a higher positive value. These shifts in trauma-rooted belief present a great deal of complexity.
Mintie and Staples take great pains to show how trauma affects the brain and body. For those already familiar with PTSD, the higher rates of mistrust, damaged relationships, and depression are well known. Less known is that those with it either have a smaller hippocampus or perhaps the capacity of the hippocampus reduces from exposure to repeated trauma.
Adding yogic breathing and mantras may seem a bit farfetched and New Age to some, but within the context presented by the authors, it makes sense. The damage from trauma imprints itself not just on the mind, but on the body, and in many ways pain from the emotional self is transferred to the body. For those skeptical about the addition of yoga to treatment for PTSD, research has happened – and it demonstrates a definitive link between application of yoga and reduction of symptoms in PTSD.
The authors set forward these techniques in easy, accessible terms, using anecdotes from their own clients. One story about a man who used these methods and then had a relapse of symptoms highlights an important aspect of PTSD treatment: recovery is a discipline. Neglecting self-care can allow trauma and negative thought habits to sneak back in$1, and so while this puts forth some simple techniques for repair, they are not easy by any means. The brain is neuroplastic, not liquid – it takes time to retrain the thoughts patterns and non-conscious reactions. The recommendations for exercise practice are up to 61 minutes per day, and as hard as it can be to find that hour plus one, it's clearly necessary for anyone that wants to see significant changes.
~review by Diana Rajchel
Authors: Daniel Mintie, LCSW and Julie K. Staples, PhD
Healing Arts Press, 2018
pp. 181, $16.99