Sober Friday Jukebox: STAIR-way to heaven

So it feels like all the reading I’ve done of late has been heading to this point.  I recently received an email from Mind the Brain about Complex PTSD, STAIR and social ecology that you can read here.

STAIR is the acronym for Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation.  It’s a training programme that has been developed in the US by psychologist Dr. Marylene Cloitre.  Here’s  how the programme is described on the US Department of Veteran Affairs website:

STAIR is an evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for individuals suffering from PTSD, including chronic and complicated forms as well as for individuals with PTSD and co-occurring disorders.

Complex PTSD results from repetitive, prolonged trauma involving harm or abandonment by a caregiver or other interpersonal relationships with an uneven power dynamic .

“Anger directed against the self or others is always a central problem in the lives of people who have been violated and this is itself a repetitive re-enactment of real events from the past. Compulsive repetition of the trauma usually is an unconscious process that, although it may provide a temporary sense of mastery or even pleasure, ultimately perpetuates chronic feelings of helplessness and a subjective sense of being bad and out of control. Gaining control over one’s current life, rather than repeating trauma in action, mood, or somatic states, is the goal of healing” (Bessel A. van der Kolk)

Using STAIR will allow you to teach your patients skills in:

  • emotion regulation
  • interpersonal functioning

This online STAIR training consists of 8 modules covering several core treatment components. STAIR can be provided as a standalone therapy or as a complement to trauma-focused therapies.

Goals and Objectives

  • To become informed about the impact of trauma on emotion regulation and social (interpersonal) functioning
  • To be able to identify at least one strategy that increases emotional awareness
  • To be able to identify at least three strategies that improve emotion regulation in PTSD patients
  • To be able to formulate interpersonal schemas related to problematic social and interpersonal functioning
  • To be able to develop and test alternative interpersonal schemas with client
  • To learn at least two strategies for effective assertiveness behaviors
  • To learn at least one strategy for improving flexibility in interpersonal expectations and behaviors

What I found so striking about this is it mirrors the process I’ve been going through as part of my emotional recovery and particularly in my recent discover of the brilliant book The Tao of Fully Feeling by Pete Walker.

Here’s more detail on Session Two: Emotional Awareness:

  • Emotions, emotion regulation, and the impact of trauma on emotion regulation.
  • Why feelings are important, the influence of trauma history on feelings, how to use a feelings wheel to help label feelings.
  • How to use a self- monitoring form to identify the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

And Session Three: Emotional Regulation:

  • Recognize that all of their behaviors are efforts to cope with their feelings and environment.
  • Evaluate current coping strategies, their efficacy, and alternative strategies.
  • Learning physiological, cognitive, and behavioral channels of mood regulation

Link to full course content pdf here.

Maybe it’s just my experience and I am generalising wildly but I think many of us boozers struggle with emotions which is part of the reason why we drank how we drank.

There are well researched links between substance misuse and trauma (74% sexual abuse, 52% physical abuse & 72% emotional abuse in this research)  and sources estimate that 25 – 75 percent of people who survive abuse and/or violent trauma develop issues related to alcohol abuse.

All of these skills seem so applicable to a life lived well in sobriety as we learn to deal with all those pesky emotions and renegotiate relationships and learn about boundaries and agency without our crutch.  I’m sharing these resources here in case you would like to research further because to me they feel like a stairway to (emotional) heaven 😉

Edited to add: 03/08/17

Just watched this brilliant video with Tara Brach talking about healing trauma which feels incredibly pertinent to this post so am sharing here:

8 thoughts on “Sober Friday Jukebox: STAIR-way to heaven

  1. Hi

    I have CPTSD (recently have been told)and I am sure that is why alcohol takes off the edge. Now that I have been told this it all makes sense, as alcohol takes the edge off the pain. Here is a link by this well known Canadian Dr who gives talks on addiction. He have many such talks on youtube. He said all addicts have experienced some kind of childhood trauma. I think there is a lot of truth to this.

    this is a really good talk I think it is very informative

      1. Thanks Lucy
        I have been going for years for CBT. It is only recently my counsellor mentioned CPTSD. That makes a whole a lot of sense now that I can work on that.
        I have been taking CBD which is medical Marijuana, not mind altering BTW. You don’t get any high for CBD. We will see how that goes. I am doing that on my own.
        Alcohol was what I used to take of that edge off my pain. It messes with my sleep and anxiety so it has been a struggle. I was mostly only using it Friday nights. However this summer will be a challenge when I do a cycle trip across Holland.

        I just discovered Gabor .

      2. Hi Stew

        Happy to hear that the CBT is helping you. CBD was a new one on me and I had to google it! Be interested to hear how you get on with it. Enjoy Gabor 🙂

  2. Can a medical problem that caused severe emotional trauma lead to drinking problem?
    When I was in late high school, early college, I started going “nuts” accounting to people who loved me.
    No one could figure out what was going on…I ate all night, tried to commit suicide, had to drop out of college for awhile…crying.
    FINALLY, they discovered I had hyperthyroidism. But the damage was done…people telling me I should be in a mental hospital, etc.
    Thanks Lucy!
    xo
    Wendy

    1. Anything is possible with the human body Wendy so who knows. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: mood swings, nervousness or anxiety, trouble sleeping &
      weight loss which matches your description. Many of us with anxiety medicate with alcohol so it could have been the trigger xx

  3. Dear Lou,

    Thanks very much again for information worth reading and thanks for the book reference. 🙂

    This is my favorite version of the Stairways to heaven, hope you do not find it blasphemy. I LOVE it. Everything! And specifically the ukelila parts inbetween.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4DC1QLxiY4

    Hope you enjoy!

    xx, Feeling

    1. Hey Feeling You’re welcome! Thanks for sharing your favourite version of Stairway to Heaven too 🙂 xx

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