Interview with Dr. Debbie Orr on Trauma
Hey everybody welcome back to family psych consumer. Today, we have another installment of our “Shrink Rap” series, and talking to a my favorite expert on the topic of trauma and trauma treatment. My interview this week is with Dr. Debbie Orr in Ocala, FL. Dr. Orr has had a long career both providing trauma care and training others, both as a nurse and a psychologist. Just a quick glance at her background; Debbie achieved her Masters and PhD at Fordham University in NY, including a teaching fellowship at Fordham and a post-doc fellowship at Beth Israel Hospital; a research stint at Harvard looking at burn injury trauma; 12 years working as a clinical psychologist in NYC in both hospital and clinic settings; and 15 years working in direct research and as a director of nursing in medical settings. Much of her research, publications, and clinical work is in the arena of HIV/AIDS, trauma, and trauma recovery. In the beginning, her career was kicked off with a Bachelors from Mount Holyoke and a second bachelors in nursing from Cornell. So needless to say, I feel very blessed to have her as a resident expert here at family psych consumer.; and I am very jazzed to share her with you today. What I love about Dr. Debbie is that, like Dr. McHugh, who you met a couple weeks ago, Dr. Debbie has a way of talking to parents and families about trauma and recovery that is transferable to their daily lives.
This topic is salient in all our coaching and support work because your sons, daughters, or family members who are suffering are experiencing two distress phenomena concurrently; one is the effects of the mental illness or response to a traumatic event that is impacting thinking, feelings or physical health; but the other is their emotional response and secondary trauma due to how that illness or event is derailing daily life and their identity as a well person.
So ensuring that you understanding trauma is always in the forefront of my mind. I want every parent and family to understand, communicate with, and recover with your loved one that is living with trauma. So without further delay, here is this week's talk with Dr. Debbie on the topic of trauma and trauma recovery.
Dr. Debbie wants us to remember the first most important fact about trauma …that it changes the person and the brain. We both want you to remember this when trying to interpret your loved one’s feeling, thinking and behaviors; again, bringing your critical thinking to the party and managing your own distress.
Knowing that that person melting down in front of you has an overstimulated brain enables you to be a more effective caregiver. In most cases, that means knowing the brain has to detox at its own pace, and tolerating the slow pace of expunging trauma responses in daily living– the definition of recovery from trauma.
Anyone you love who is suffering needs to be soothed and that soothing begins with doing your best to know what is happening to them and use that knowledge in your daily interactions with your loved one. And finally, that every trauma patient takes their trauma event or events with them into every waking day. Every quality trauma program recognizes that the family - parents, spouses, partners, and children – has to do its hard work to process a loved one’s trauma and talk about openly; to ask how to listen, and how to be coached about recovery for each family member.
Thanks for being with us this week on this very intimate topic.
Until next week, take care.