On the last track, we discussed Secondary Wounding. In
my practice, I have found five basic types of secondary wounding experiences.
They are disbelief, discounting, ignorance, labeling, and cruelty.
On this track, we will discuss Healing Self-Statements. I
have found that by repeating healing self-statements, clients
may learn to react to stress before negative feelings flood their minds. I’ve
also found that healing self-statements give clients the opportunity
to evaluate choices without allowing emotions to take over.
I use three
steps in helping clients to create healing self-statements. They
are considering grief neutrally, identifying needs,
and identifying strengths. If you have a
client who may benefit from healing self-statements, you may
find it useful to play this track for your client.
Chris, age 48, was a car-accident survivor. Chris grieved the loss of
his wife, Rebecca, in the accident. Chris stated, "I’ve got
this scar on my neck from where they did surgery on me. The surgery saved
my life, but I almost would have rather died. I suffered some head injuries
that affected my brain. I lost my job because I’m a little slower
now. I get real embarrassed and that makes it hard to deal with people. My
scar burns like a reminder of all of that. My wife is dead, I don’t
have a job, and of course I don’t have a future. How can I have
a future when I can’t even deal with people anymore?"
mental deterioration from sustaining injuries during the crash was slight. Mainly,
he suffered small gaps in his attention span. Chris’s grief magnified
the problem with his attention span. Chris began to react to stress
negatively. Chris stated, "I do OK for awhile
and then I start getting real nervous about somebody noticing how slow I am. That’s
when I either start freaking out or I just stop talking altogether." The
purpose of creating healing self-statements for Chris was
to increase his range of choices beyond the two extremes of ‘freaking
out’ or just shutting down.
Three Steps to Create Healing Self-Statements
Step #1: Considering Grief Neutrally
I had already completed some grief-processing work with
Chris and felt he could benefit from healing self-statements. The first
step was for Chris to consider his grief neutrally without
any self-blaming. Chris stated, "I felt guilty that I lived and
Rebecca didn’t. I know it’s not my fault, so I no longer
feel guilty. I’m not blaming myself, but I think if I can stop
being ashamed and accept my injuries, then I can live in a way that honors
Step #2: Identifying Needs
The second step was for Chris to identify his needs. I
asked Chris, "What do you want out of life?" Chris stated, "I
just want to find a way to live my life in a good way. I know that first
I need to accept the way I am now. I also don’t want to feel cheated
anymore." Do you have experience treating a client who feels cheated
by their loss?
Step #3: Identifying Strengths
In addition to considering grief neutrally and identifying
his needs, the third step in creating healing
self-statements was for Chris to identify his strengths. Chris
stated, "I’m a good person. I think of others before myself."
Chris used these three steps to write his healing
Example: This is Chris’s healing self-statement...
"It wasn’t my fault that I was in a car accident. It will be
my fault, however, if I let my grief keep me from living my life. I was
cheated out of a good marriage and a job. I don’t want
to cheat myself out of what I can accomplish with the rest of my life. I
want to live my life now and not in the past. To help myself, I’m
going to repeat my healing self-statements. My brain
condition doesn’t make me a failure. It doesn’t mean I’m
different than others. My grief is a natural result of what happens when
you lose someone. It doesn’t mean I’ll be alone forever. It’s
up to me to contribute the good that I can. Holding back what I have
to offer won’t bring back what I’ve lost. Punishing the
people still in my life will not do me any good. By punishing others
I will only punish myself."
I advised Chris to carry his written healing self-statements with
him. By carrying his healing self-statements, Chris
could read them whenever he anticipated a stressful interaction. At a
later session, Chris stated, "My healing self-statements help
me to fight my fears about my mental condition. I’m starting to
get past it and that really helps me to come to terms with losing Rebecca." Chris
soon memorized and internalized his healing self-statements. By
repeating healing self-statements, Chris learned to react
to stress before negative feelings could flood his mind.
self-statements gave Chris the opportunity to evaluate choices without
allowing emotions to take over. If you have a client who is writing healing
self-statements, would it be beneficial to play this track for him
On this track we discussed Healing Self-Statements. There
are three critical steps in creating healing self-statements. They
are considering grief neutrally, identifying needs,
and identifying strengths.
On the next track we will discuss the physiology of grief as it relates to clients
suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. I have found that there
are three major physiological aspects of grief. They are the mind-body
connection, acute stress reactions, and emotional triggers.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Beller, J., & Wagner, A. (2018). Loneliness, social isolation, their synergistic interaction, and mortality. Health Psychology, 37(9), 808–813.
Bellet, B. W., LeBlanc, N. J., Nizzi, M.-C., Carter, M. L., van der Does, F. H. S., Peters, J., Robinaugh, D. J., & McNally, R. J. (2020). "Identity confusion in complicated grief: A closer look": Correction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 129(6), 543.
Captari, L. E., Riggs, S. A., & Stephen, K. (2020). Attachment processes following traumatic loss: A mediation model examining identity distress, shattered assumptions, prolonged grief, and posttraumatic growth. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication.
Golden, A.-M. J., & Dalgleish, T. (2012). Facets of pejorative self-processing in complicated grief. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(3), 512–524.
Merluzzi, T. V., Burgio, K. L., & Glass, C. R. (1984). Cognition and psychopathology: An analysis of social introversion and self-statements. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52(6), 1102–1103.
Wood, A. G., Turner, M. J., Barker, J. B., & Higgins, S. J. (2017). Investigating the effects of irrational and rational self-statements on motor-skill and hazard-perception performance.Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 6(4), 384–400.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION
What are the three critical steps in creating healing self-statements?
To select and enter your answer go to .