"Big T trauma" and "little t trauma" are two phrases often used to describe different psychological/emotional trauma levels. Big T can result from either one specific experience or recurring sexual or physical abuse.
Little t, on the other end of the trauma spectrum, can result from a series of smaller yet still challenging events.
We can be traumatized by a single event like being involved in a bad accident or experiencing an act of violence such as assault or recurring abuse. That's a Big T trauma -- a big event or a series of significant repetitive events.
We can also be traumatized by a series of smaller, not-so-big things like being bullied (as a child or an adult), family conflict, infidelity, divorce, a sudden geographical move, or medical issues.
Big T traumas are generally considered more dramatic than those of little t.
How individuals respond to the event, though, is what matters. One person may be deeply traumatized by something to which another person barely reacts.
And those emotional/behavioral reactions are what psychotherapists such as Paige Pierson are trained to work with.
Paige is a psychotherapist, licensed both in Texas and New Mexico. She's a credentialed supervisor for LMHC’s.
Based in Los Alamos, Paige has previously worked in corrections, behavioral health hospitals, private practice, and community agencies.
In this episode, Melanie and Paige offer a fascinating insider glimpse into the world of trauma-sensitive therapy.
Paige is also a working artist, sharing insights about how her creative life nurtures her life as a psychotherapist.
Last but not least, Paige is the author of a YA dystopian fiction novel set in 2088. She wrote it for young people who are struggling with bullying, anxiety, self-esteem, and resilience.
Her commitment to living a rich life, no matter what we've experienced, can be a model for all of us.
The psychology of self-esteem and style is the focus of this show. Stylist Kitty Ault, photographer Gabriella Marks, and hair and make-up artist Jess Evans -- the KA Style team -- all share ideas about the importance of how we present ourselves to the world.
This is a lively show with a terrific team of women who work well together. And Melanie discovered academic research on the psychology of fashion, sharing it with listeners and asking for feedback from the KA Style team.
In doing research for this show, Melanie found the following from psychologist Carolyn Mair, Ph.D.:
" ... it's stressful for us if we don't feel comfortable in what we're wearing. If we're really worrying that it's appropriate or it's suitable or we don't feel confident in what we're wearing, it stresses us and this means that we don't have the cognitive capacity to deal with the problem at hand. This is why lots of very successful people tend to wear a work uniform ... [people] who wear the same items every day to allow this freeing up of cognitive capacity for more important issues." [https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/fashion]
How we show up in the world can have a significant impact on our psychological/mental/emotional health. Because how we show up in the world can be both a reflection of how we're feeling or how we want to feel, as well as signaling to others how we expect to be treated.
"Your fashion style can determine if you ace that interview and get that dream job. Once you are on the job, your wardrobe can determine if you get more responsibility and get promoted. Your clothing choices can make or break your career, your ability to make friends, and develop the romantic relationships that you seek.
"Just as dress radiates outward to your surroundings, it also moves inward. How you dress affects your mood. Your wardrobe choices have a psychological impact. Karen Pine demonstrates in her book Mind What You Wear that there is a science behind fashion and that psychology and fashion are indeed linked.
"The next time you choose what to wear, think about why you chose that outfit. Allow more understanding for others when considering why they dress the way they do. And most of all, use the opportunity to have fun and bring pleasure into your life. Self-care is an important aspect of mental health. Looking and feeling good is not just an advertising slogan, it is a viable aspect to your wellbeing." [https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-psychology-of-fashion#4]
Dressing "up," meaning dressing for how you want to feel and how you want to be seen by others -- with healthy self-confidence and strong self-esteem -- is a simple technique to change your cognition and emotions.
The holy space of singing on stage is just one of the very cool things Melanie and Susanne Mentzer talk about in this episode.
Susanne is a mezzo-soprano who’s performed all over the world, singing in operatic productions, as well as concerts, chamber music performances, and recitals. She's been a guest artist at the Metropolitan Opera since 1989, and made many recordings. She's a Full-time Professor of Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Official Voice Teacher at the San Francisco Opera.
Finally, Susanne is singing this summer at the Santa Fe Opera.
This episode is full of light-hearted energy, lots of laughter, some personal revelations of overcoming hardships ... lots of life.
Susanne talks about the ways in which being on stage for her is therapeutic, perhaps even sacred at times.
Being passionate about her work in the world, which has now spanned several decades, continues to bring much meaning for Susanne.
Not incidentally, feeling a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives is one of the major contributors to our overall health, wellbeing, and happiness.
As an article in Scientific American says, "A wealth of research in positive psychology suggests that happiness and meaning are, in fact, essential elements of well-being. Happiness and meaning are strongly correlated with each other, and often feed off each other. The more meaning we find in life, the more happy we typically feel, and the more happy we feel, the more we often feel encouraged to pursue even greater meaning and purpose."
Another major key to wellbeing is having healthy social connections, which Susanne talks about. That same Scientific American article says " ... feeling connected to others, feeling productive, and not being alone or bored contributed to both happiness and meaning. However, they also found some important differences ... ." [https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-differences-between-happiness-and-meaning-in-life/]*
Her life has taken some unexpected turns, she's lived some tragedy and experienced great triumphs, and is incredibly transparent in sharing insights, and hope, and inspiration.
*Happiness and meaning and purpose can quickly become a very nuanced conversation, at least according to some research findings. This statement may help shed a bit more light on it: "It seems that happiness has more to do with having your needs satisfied, getting what you want, and feeling good, whereas meaning is more related to uniquely human activities such as developing a personal identity, expressing the self, and consciously integrating one’s past, present, and future experiences." [https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-differences-between-happiness-and-meaning-in-life/]
Dr. Michelle Schwab is a clinical psychologist based in Portland, Maine. She specializes in health psychology and working with high-achieving professionals who are struggling with burnout.
And these days, who isn't feeling at least a little burned out?!
Michelle shares some of the red flags for burnout, which includes cynicism and a lack of empathy.
From the APA (American Psychological Association) comes this:
"Burnout is more than just feeling worn out. According to psychologist Christina Maslach, PhD—a pioneering burnout researcher who developed what has become the gold standard for measuring burnout—the condition has three components: overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment (Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual, fourth edition, 2016).
"People kind of switch to doing the bare minimum instead of doing their very best," says Maslach, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Burnout Research." https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/02/ce-corner
For health care workers and all caregivers, it's important to remember that burnout is associated with compassion fatigue or secondary trauma, which can contribute to even more burnout.
The good news is that there are things that can be helpful to prevent or lessen burnout, including making self-care a priority.
Having a trusted social support network, even if that's one other person, can make a big difference.
Mindfulness is another practice that's proven to be helpful. In order to deal with what's happening, we need to be aware of how we're feeling, right?
In the 2nd half of this episode, Michelle shares a lovely personal story of her work with a cancer patient 30 years ago, and how that helped her cope with 2020's pandemic year.
This show is rich with personal insights, and current research data about burnout, stress, and anxiety as we all continue to learn how to navigate the uncharted waters of this era.
Women and power and style are part of this show with Kitty Ault.
Kitty's back in the studio talking about how we present ourselves to the world. 'Cause, the truth is, clothes and hair and make-up all enhance or hide our identities.
It's always fascinating to dive deep into something that's often misunderstood, trivialized, and/or exploited.
And Kitty's an expert. She's a stylist with a degree in Art History/ Fine Arts. She worked in New York in public relations, design, marketing, event management, and fashion for innovative companies such as Perrier, L’Oreal, Cacharel, The Hearst Corporation, and financial institutions. She then ventured into the world of modeling, magazine location/styling, and photoshoots. She had the opportunity to work with top photographers, Conde Nast, Hearst publications, Time Inc., and associated magazines.
In 2005, Kitty and her family moved to Santa Fe, NM.
She shares thoughts on how the pandemic changed the ways we see ourselves, and how we choose to show up in the world.
How we’re shifting identities, roles, and priorities.
The ways in which it’s a re-set for women in the workplace.
Kitty and Melanie also get into women and power (yep, she's an expert), and women and vulnerability (yes, there's a connection).
Psychological studies show the impact of clothing in the workplace. Including, no surprise, that women can be judged harshly for their attire. Especially if their position is "higher status."
In one study, "we found that the clothing did matter. People rated the [female] senior manager less favourably when her dress style was more ‘provocative’, and more favourably when dressed more conservatively (longer skirt, buttoned-up blouse). I reiterate that the clothing in the ‘provocative’ condition was still very conservative in style and look—it was not a short skirt and a revealing blouse, but a skirt slightly above the knee and one button on the blouse undone.
"The rating of the receptionist role was not affected by these clothing manipulations, suggesting that there may be more leeway for some jobs than others.
"So even subtle changes to clothing style can contribute toward negative impressions of the competence of women who hold higher status positions." https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/do-something-different/201304/what-your-clothes-might-be-saying-about-you
In that same article, the author writes "it is important to choose our dress style carefully because people will make all sorts of assumptions and decisions about us without proper evidence. We are unlikely to know what these assessments are, so it is quite possible that our clothes reveal more than we thought.
"Sartorial laziness is an easy habit to slip into. We may think that fashion is just profligate indulgence and our sunny personality will eclipse our dull attire or detract from the soup stains on our anorak. Untrue. What we wear speaks volumes in just a few seconds. Dressing to impress really is worthwhile and could even be key to success."