Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

This educational DVD will present recovered survivors and therapists discussing their experiences with the healing process after traumatic events.This film will sensitively present insight into the impact of trauma in the survivor’s life, however, the main focus of the film is on what helped or did not help them during their healing process.

Survivors of trauma often have difficulty believing that they will ever recover. This film provides a message of hope, but also first hand information on what was helpful to others in similar situations.

The DVD is useful to both therapists and survivors in guiding their recovery efforts in a positive direction. Family members and community will also learn how they can assist in the recovery of their friends, loved ones and neighbors. A ten minute version suitable for trainings and workshops is included in the professional version. All participants donated their time.

The six therapists featured are all members of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies:

Peg Christopher,Ph.D.
Marlene E. Coach, Ed.D MSW
Charles R. Figley,Ph.D
Chalsa M. Loo, Ph.D
Frank M. Ochberg, MD
David P. Ribbe, Ph.D

Special Thanks:
Frank Smyth, Journalist Prisoner-of-War.
Mary, Sexual Assault Survivor.
Angelea Panos, Ph.D. for her wisdom and support.

© 2001

Professional Version: 33 Minutes, includes
10 min. presentation – $65.00 DVD
Survivor Version: 23 Minutes – $30.00 DVD

Both the US Army and US Air Force use this program as part of their Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Programs.

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DVD Review
5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

I would like to take this time to thank you for the valuable service which Gift From Within provides for individuals surviving PTSD. I was first introduced to your work through a review in my professional newspaper, “Counseling Today”, for the video, ” Recovering From Traumatic Events”. I purchased the video made for use with clients as I have several who are surviving PTSD. I was very impressed with the quality and positive approach of the film.

I have used the video with one of my clients and recommended that she pursue the pen pal service offer by Gift From Within. The video itself offered us much to talk about the opened up a deeper area of healing for the client. She has taken advantage to the pen pal service and now has two pen pals. This is a remarkable step for her and has given her increased confidence in her own healing. Also, she has been greatly supported by your periodic follow up phone calls.

Again, I thank you for your valuable services and wish you many blessing in the good work that you do.

Maryanne Horne, Ph.D.

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

Erwin Randolph Parson, Ph.D.

Traumatic stress response is a universal expression of the victim/survivor’s attempt to handle the fear, terror, and helplessness generated by the overwhelming event. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most disabling forms of illness clinicians encounter today. The stress reactions experienced by a victim range from mild stress reaction to acute stress disorder, on to PTSD. While mild stress reactions may improve over time, the maladaptive coping strategies that characterize PTSD are of great concern to victims and therapists who help them. Whatever degree of problems the victim suffers, now, there is good news.

The disorder and its treatment are serious business: it calls for the best available information. The anxiety experience generated by PTSD produces powerful reverberations throughout most areas of the sufferer’s life, the negative effects reducing successful decision-making, interfering with intimacy, while hindering healthy relating at home, workplace, and the community.

Clinical practitioners have a passionate desire to be effective. They thus seek the most creative and effective approaches to helping their clients. The present video represents an important response to this need. Where else can such an accurate, immediately useful, credible, and affordable resource be found? The Gift from Within organization does it again. The Video contains a multitude of excellent and valuable tips. Gift From Within’s newest Video, “Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process,” a comprehensive educational/training program that empowers survivors and those who treat them. I believe knowledge is power, and that information is the best way to attain this most vital commodity to successfully battle traumatic stress.

The Video contributes to the management of inner disquieting distress and the emotional tempests that accompany PTSD, guilt, shame, anger, and dissociation. The deepest concerns of the survivor are discussed in the Video-everything: the facts, the details the feelings, the thoughts, the pain, and the helplessness-for everyone to see, hear, and understand. For it tells how the overwhelmed can get his or her foot solidly planted on a post-trauma path of recovery-from being a helpless victim to becoming a buoyant survivor, on to being a growth-oriented thriver to becoming an avid, enlightened teacher. This is where the learner finally becomes what he or she was studying.

Among the various traumatic incidents represented in the Video are: crash victims, an abducted war zone journalist held as POW in Iraq, a victim of abduction and sexual violence, and a victim of domestic violence.

The victim/survivor often experiences PTSD symptoms as a vice grip on psyche, soma, will, and spirit. A survivor once described this kind of post-traumatic stasis and helplessness as an octopus encircling the victim in a state of fear and helplessness. Whatever action the victim takes it seems nothing works. If the victim seeks relief by removing a tentacle, another tenacious tentacle tightens, gripping, squeezing, throttling, and further entrapping. No one who has been traumatized wants to suffer unrelenting dissociated memories, severe depression, and the sense of constant dread in persistently anticipating catastrophe. This is why Recovering is so important.

Recovering is a survivor’s story-from encounter with death to triumph over helplessness. Survivors viewing this video for answers to perplexing questions and emotions, will find a sort of “technological empathy,” people on the screen not merely talking to them, but feeling what they feel, thinking what they think, while pointing to solutions with confidence and conviction.

As a 30 minute long videotape, featuring a “just-right” length for quick reference, and ready results, Recovering represents the best available information for therapists-of whatever theoretical persuasion, and survivors of any traumatic experience-domestic violence, sexual assault, disaster, war, and transportation accidents. It is short, and to the point, but is detailed with rich information from real victims with real traumatic histories, and real experience. Nothing in the presentation is theoretical or hypothetical. Recovering is also practical, sensitive, and immediately useful for both victims and professional helpers alike. It facilitates the victim’s quest for restoration to pretrauma health, and ultimately personal illumination, empowerment, and growth.

Here, victim/survivors speak for themselves-not others speaking for them-about what re-experiencing is-of being haunted by violent, terrorizing images during the daytime and nocturnal hours, and the seemingly perpetual sense of being endangered moment-by-moment, and the adverse power of nightmares and flashbacks. They also mention the counter-intimacy avoidance responses characterized by sadness, absence of feelings, as well as feeling jumpy with sleep problems and general inner disquietude.
The images depicted in the Video reveal pure human organic terror, emergency room scenes, shock trauma surgical settings, and images of the wounded in agony, the fires, and the scenes of commotion, turbulence, and confusion.

What do victim/survivors and the experts in the video have to say about counseling and trauma therapy for those whose symptoms persist and interfere with the victim/survivor’s life? Here, survivors recognize that good information, trauma therapy, and patience do work. Also discussed is the importance of flexibility in adopting a comprehensive model of care that include talk therapy, and a variety of other techniques as sculpting, painting, art, writing, poetry, and music.

The producers of the Video, and the experts it features know that for many survivors recovery from trauma is a thorny and rocky path, often experiencing self as a lost rudderless, vulnerable ship in turbulent seas. Thus the Video offers a guide and a compass through relevant concepts that flow with vibrancy and meaningfulness amidst images of fire, destruction, and confusion.

It speaks insightfully about healing after trauma. Basically, the film takes the viewer down two paths-one to familiar themes of traumatic stress responses, one to therapy innovation and creative insights. It clearly presents therapy as a multidimensional, multitheoretical enterprise, and center-stages the victim/survivor’s own story of catastrophe and triumph over trauma.

As a result of trauma therapy, and perseverance, survivors in the Video speak clearly about outcome-about having a new perspective after going through the shadowed valley of traumatic distress and anguish. They tell us how they learned patience, how they found a safe place when the moment they needed comfort and reassurance, and how they finally came full circle emotionally, spiritually, socially, and economically on the road to recovery.

Essentially, Recovering is a gem. Though their highly personal stories, survivors teach us what they’ve learned: they found that every negative, challenging experience is actually a gift, and when it is shared with us all, and so it is a “gift from within.”

I thus recommend this video without reservation. The Gift From Within organization, and the featured therapists in the Video have the ethical and professional qualifications to confidently bring this product to the public, and professional audiences. For it is designed for all survivors, trainers, educators, and psychotherapists.

Based on my over 20 years of trauma work with adults, adolescents, and inner city children-adversely impacted by war, domestic terrorism (Oklahoma Bombing Disaster), domestic abuse, family violence and murder, community violence, sexual assault, and natural disasters-I find the Video to be an essential resource, a must for the new therapist and the experienced provider. As a cutting edge training resource in post-trauma healing and integration, the Video integrates the most exciting and clinically innovative, science-grounded information available today for trauma sufferers and their therapists.

For convenience and relevance in applicability, Recovering is produced in two versions-the Survivors Version (RT 20 minutes), and the Professional version (TR 30 minutes), which includes a 10-minute presentation suitable for workshops and trainings.

The Video will prove to be a valuable addition to the video libraries of trauma therapists who are psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, school psychologists, rehabilitation specialists, and debriefing team leaders and members.

These survivors have come to the point where they can say, “Now I love my life; I love living, and believe I am worthy of the good things.” They have the conviction that life is worth living, while recognizing the many positive, salutogenic accompaniments of trauma.

Yes, survivors and therapists can find training videos on just about any topic we can imagine. However, if one were to imagine a training/educational resource that was close to the experience of victim/survivors with information that is readily amenable to practical application, the Video Recovering is key.

Erwin Randolph Parson, Ph.D.
Post Office Box 55
Perry Point, Maryland 21902-0055

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process
Dr. Beverly AndersonMany of the statements made by the survivors in the video echoed those made by the survivors I have worked with over the past 25 years.

The accurate and practical information disseminated by the combination of survivors and therapists is powerful. The video “demystifies” the symptoms of PTSD. It removes the stigma of Pathology.

Survivors already feel isolated from the rest of the world. This video goes far beyond simply telling the story because telling the story is just the beginning. Connecting with the pain by integrating the event into one’s life story seems to distill out as the second step in healing and recovery. (“Weaving it into the fabric of your life” is what I tell my survivors). Finding a way to make the event a historical event that is “enormous” and one that you will never forget. However, it no longer intrudes into the present preventing you from experiencing joy, peace, and love.

I particularly enjoyed Dr. Ochberg’s explanation of the PTSD symptoms. This is the first video that “maps out” the many faces of PTSD from the reactions themselves to suggestions for healing and recovery. Dr. Charles Figley described the fear of repetition in a way that survivors can understand. Dr. Marlene Coach’s description of how families can add to the pain of PTSD was very useful, too.

I came away from this video with the confirmation that PTSD is not a mental illness. It’s a condition of adaptation, accommodation, and integration. “Mary” said it in a different and more powerful way when she said: “My life ended and then it began.” Adapting and respecting the enormity of the trauma helps survivors accommodate the changes and ultimately to integrate the event into their lives. The final message is that there is “hope.” That message comes through from therapists and survivors alike. Survivors need to know that there is a light ahead. The power of the human spirit across all traumas and all cultures is consistent. We are truly “all in this together.”

And I still find the song that Patti Austin sings “We’re all in this Together,” extremely powerful. I play the entire song at the end of my debriefings; it gets to the core of my toughest cops.

Dr. Beverly Anderson
Clinical Director & Administrator, Metropolitan Police Employee Assistance Program, Washington, DC

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

Seán Redmond
Member, Gift From Within Support Pal Network

“Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process”, takes you to a destination that many have only begun to fathom. The magical aspect of this film is the well-articulated message of calming those rapids into a tranquil pool of wisdom, compassion, and understanding. “Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process”, proves that it is possible to dream hopeful dreams again, to show all of us that PTSD survivors can find their way to a better life and become the inspiration for the rest of the world.

Along with an insightful staff of healers, “Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process”, brings to the surface the sometimes forgotten fact that PTSD survivors are the culmination of every traumatic event PTSD survivors experience. The truth about who they are as a soul, everything they have been, ever thought and are … every nuance, every breath of their eternal being is experienced through the eyes of each survivor in this film. The heartrending stories of those who share their life experiences with us and how they overcame traumatic events that halted, indeed, darkened their lives, shows all of us the true strength of the human spirit. The stories of the survivors, and the sensitivity in which each professional handles each topic show us that with gentle, loving guidance one can overcome PTSD and unleash an unprecedented metamorphosis, one which will ultimately carry all of us to greater heights of human and spiritual experience. For that reason, Gift From Within is truly a place of infinite light, wisdom, compassion, and understanding.

Well-directed, beautifully shot, and wonderfully edited, one feels as if a loving, warm group of friends has dropped into your home for a while to touch your life by sharing their tragic stories and the hope they found in their healing process. Moreover, the film proves how very important it is to
find the right therapist. As for my therapist, I would not be sitting here writing this for you to read if it were not for the challenges my therapist set for me, all those years ago. My journey out of hell started with my therapist, and lead me to Gift From Within. It has been quite a journey, but well worth the price I had to pay to be free of my past. Because of those experiences and the overcoming of them I can say with assurance that “Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process”, is intelligent, deeply touching and unforgettable, you will never be the same after viewing this film.

“Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process”, is a love offering to those who have chosen to embrace the challenge of overcoming PTSD. For that reason Gift From Within will always be the model by which other organizations will define the work they do.

I am so very proud to be a part of Gift From Within, it gives meaning to my life, what I have learned and continue to share with others.

Be well, remain forever optimistic, and rise to the challenge.

Seán Redmond
Member, Gift From Within Support Pal Network

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

“This video is a valuable and artful demonstration of the rite of passage that traumatized family members and workers must negotiate from their initial despair and helplessness to reengaging with life and redefining themselves.”

Ted Rynearson, MD
Medical Director of Separation and Loss Services
Virginia Mason Medical Center

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

This film appeals to a variety of audiences, ranging from survivors of traumatic events to therapists to law enforcement members. Its concise descriptions of the outcomes of exposure to traumatic events speak to these audiences in a clear, normalizing manner without shocking or terrifying the viewers. A variety of experts in the field add their expertise to the survivor’s stories. As with other films produced by Gift From Within, this film is a must for your professional library.

Dr. MaryBeth Williams.

Dr. Williams is a school social worker in Falls Church Virginia. She is the past president of the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists and a former board member of International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS).

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

“I highly recommend this excellent video for use as an educational tool with patients, mental health and other professionals, as well as members of the community. It is the clearest video presentation and explanation to date of posttraumatic stress disorder from a survivor’s perspective. It accomplishes its mission, which is to inform and educate, without being unnecessarily upsetting.”

Bruce N. Eimer, Ph.D., ABPP
Board Certified Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Approved Consultant, American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
Philadelphia, PA

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

The video, Recovering From Traumatic Events is extremely useful for many groups and or individuals, both victims and survivors, responders and those that serve people subjected to trauma. It validates so many feelings and emotions that people are subjected to during and after a traumatic incident and can also be used as a teaching tool for those that respond to crisis. Like most other educational aides, in particular visual, judgment must be used when utilizing these powerful modalities. The professional would definitely enhance their teaching or supportive intervention by using this excellent video. We will be using it in both my groups: Support Officer Org. and the Family Support Team of NADA. Thank you for making this available to us.

Barbara Skudlarick, Board Member,
National Air Disaster Alliance Foundation –
Director, Family Support Team:

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

Dear Gift From Within:

“What a beautifully done, awesome educational video for trauma survivors! The captions look great! I am very impressed by the helpful information that was presented, and was moved to tears while watching the touching survivor stories. As a deaf trauma survivor myself, I am very excited about this newly captioned video! ” Documentaries are often the last to get captioned. I have never seen anything with a sexual assault survivor in the same context as yours that was captioned, but I have seen several captioned videos on domestic violence. I think your video is groundbreaking in the field of trauma recovery ….Deb

Deaf Abused Woman Warrior’s Web Network

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

Both tapes, When Helping Hurts: Sustaining Trauma Workers and Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process were very well done and will be very helpful. They fill a huge void in the video world – I have found nothing else like this that presents in a positive and hopeful manner. Thanks.

Mike McEvoy, PhD
EMS Coordinator
Saratoga County, N.Y.

DVD Review

5. Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process

Review by: Daniel W. Clark, Ph.D.
Critical Concepts Consulting

Recovering from Traumatic Events: The Healing Process is an excellent video which informs and educates viewers on the impact of traumatic events, without being unnecessarily upsetting or graphic.

Narrated by six experts from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, this video begins by addressing the concerns of the survivors. Dr. Frank Ochberg describes anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in a sensitive, supportive manner.

Several survivors briefly recount their traumatic incidents, illustrating typical responses to trauma in realistic first person accounts. The survivors describe the fear and terror associated with their incident, as well as the feelings of going crazy, being out of control, overwhelmed, etc. Incidents portrayed include accidents, kidnap/sexual assault, domestic violence, and being captured as a prisoner of war.

A significant portion of the video discusses practical approaches to recovery. Dr. Charles Figley addresses the importance of desensitization, being able to think about the past without becoming overly upset or shutting down, and learning to make peace with the past. The experts stress the importance of working with a mental health professional or a traumatologist, building on a foundation of trust, faith, and safety, especially when the survivor feels their family or friends cannot provide the emotional support the survivor needs.

Additional techniques suggested include journaling, poetry writing, sculpting, dancing, painting, and acting. Dr. Figley describes these techniques as “getting what’s on the inside on the outside.”

The video ends on a positive note with a message of hope. Survivors of traumatic incidents often have difficulty believing they will ever be whole again. The survivors in this video recount how they learned patience, found safety, and learned to love life again. These survivors demonstrate how survivors can learn to be “thrivers,” and then teachers of the healing process.

This video may be purchased in two lengths: a 20 minute “Survivor” version and a 30 minute “Professional” version. Both versions are close captioned. The Professional version begins with a 10 minute segment of the 20 minute version, which primarily eliminates the POW survivor and small portions of the other segments. Either version, the 10 minute or the 20 minute, could be used effectively in treatment or in a workshop/training.

This is an effective, professional quality video which many therapists and trainers will find useful. This is certainly a video worthy of adding to your audio-visual library.