PTSD – Healing from Trauma – Maria Coutant Skinner, LCSW CEO


Hey 22 on FM 97.3 W ZBG. As we get going here this morning, we want to welcome from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. CEO Maria Crutant Skinner joins us this morning. Always a pleasure to have you on the show, Maria. Good morning, Taylor. Really nice to be with you. Glad to have you with us this morning. Busy time going on for you guys. What’s going on with helping and that get together and broadening your reach and the folks in which you can serve in Western Connecticut. So some very good news. We’re glad to follow that this morning. We’re going to do something this morning where we kind of take a turn that’s not usually applied to the fight against substance or the fight against addiction. PTSD, which is something that we usually attribute to those who have experienced traumatic, you know, armed services in the military, you know, seen battle, that kind of things. We usually associate PTSD with that. But this time we’re going to look at it as it relates to folks who are in that fight. So let’s define it at first and broaden that definition of PTSD. Yeah. So I think if you’re a human being, you have experienced trauma. And we look at that there’s obviously varying degrees of trauma. Sometimes we look at it as like a capital T trauma or a lowercase T trauma to kind of distinguish. We also think of, I think a lot of people are familiar with sort of the difference between an active omission versus an active co-mission. So there are things that we experience just by virtue of being a human being. It could be growing up maybe you had a parent who struggled with depression.

And so it was, you know, you were some of your needs were not met. And that was not intentional. It wasn’t cruel. But there was trauma associated with that. Many of us have been in a fender bender accident. That’s a low T trauma. But those examples are some things that we can recognize that for a brief period of time in that that fender bender accident, we can relate to somebody who maybe has experienced a capital T trauma. So for example, you could be in that fender bender and be nervous to be driving. You could replay the accident over and over and over. You can have some trouble sleeping. But what we can usually do is metabolize that all the way through and have that processed. And that’s how we’re designed. But for many of us, the traumas can be stuck. Maybe you’re in a relationship where you don’t feel completely safe. You’re okay until the person walks through the door and then you can feel in your body that your tense things can be okay through dinner. But maybe doing the dishes, this person is triggered and they get angry and now you’re on edge and you’re doing everything possible to keep yourself and the people around you. Maybe your children safe. Yeah, living with that kind of situation. So these are things that people experience the day to day and we look for ways to cope with that. So there’s a strong connection between trauma and coping mechanisms as well as manifestation of mental health symptoms. So a coping mechanism could be drinking or using drugs or it could be the manifestation like anxiety. So these are a lot of the things that we talk about in the behavioral health field. As we’ve had professionals from your group come in and talk to us, one of the things we really dig into is trying to get to the root of that small tea trauma. Yeah. Because lots of times we bury that stuff. That’s right. We deny it. We downplay it. We shrug it off or we think we shrug it off. Yeah. And it takes a while to get to the root of that. Let’s talk about that process. I feel so right deal because none of us want to think that we’re victims of our circumstances. Sure. And there’s actual neurobiological reasons why we do that. We sometimes worry that we’ll be overwhelmed. And so we say I’m just going to stuff that. Oh my god, you don’t want to open that candle worms. Like people get really worried about that. But actually what we don’t acknowledge will haunt us. And it comes out sideways a lot of times. So if you recognize that you have an overreaction to what could be a small situation, it doesn’t match. So a really common example is you’re in traffic and you get really mad because somebody cuts you off. And it doesn’t match that situation. There’s something unresolved and stuck. Yeah. That’s in there that needs to be processed. And those examples are really minor and really common. And also part of being human. But there always our body tells us a story every single time that that there’s healing work to be done. And the healing work is possible. Let’s get to how we we get to that healing. If you’re just joining us are guests this morning from the McCulls Center for Behavioral Health and help Inc. Maria Kutant Skinner executive director there. We’re talking about PTSD and how that relates to folks who are in the fight with addiction. And in that substance vicious circle that they’re trying to escape from. So getting to the root of it. I know you have several different modalities in which you try to reach that place where people can recognize that trauma small T or large T and begin to then work through it. Yeah. So we do and I want to get to that and it’s so important. I also want to tell you a story that’s because I think I relate to the world in story. So sometimes to really have an illustration of what this looks like is helpful. So we had a fire at our inpatient facility in Watterberry on Sunday. Everybody is okay. Physically. And what we noticed is that this was this was a very scary situation. Nobody was upstairs in the dorm where the fire was started. It was electrical. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was wiring from air conditioning running during heat wave in a building that’s very old and also well built. So thank goodness the Watterberry fire department got there quickly and put the fire out. But people that windows were blowing out and exploding and the building very quickly filled up with smoke and people were getting out to people who were in a different dorm left via fire escape and some of the people in the front of the building who were witnessing the dorm being engulfed in flames and the windows blowing out were terrified that their friends were still inside.

So I think we can all imagine ourselves in that situation standing in front of a building. Fire flames coming out and you’re terrified that you have people inside of you care about. Terrifying. That situation was processed differently based on temperament of the person who witnessed it. Where they were standing and what they saw, their past experiences and how well-resourced they were in the moment and also critically what happened afterwards. So we were able to bring everybody in together. We have staff really skilled who are very compassionate who know these people and they were able to help and the guys all, all men, facility, all male facility. Their peers supported one another. They said we’re all okay. We’re here. They stayed together for many hours afterwards through the night and comforted one another. All of those subsequent steps meant that for the long term they will be okay. We continue to process that with them. It has brought up some of the stuff that they’ve experienced even in their childhood that they’re now talking about with their therapists. So we have all kinds of modalities. Some are talk therapy but a lot of it is actually figuring out where in the body those experiences are stuck and how we can help folks metabolize and heal. So that event really was emblematic of the longer practice of what you employ at McCulls Center. It’s a good way to finish as we do get short on time here but I’d really love to be visiting this topic because like you said I think we’ve all got some small tea events, some large tea events. And everybody could use a little insight in how to get past that or how to work through it. So I’d like to do this again.

I appreciate that. We do have, you know, we’re part of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation Northwest Gives and especially with the fire that we just had if anyone is inspired to help us do that healing work. And we have some really big challenges ahead of us in the next six to seven months as we have to now rebuild our inpatient building. This is an opportunity for people to help us do that work. And I guess also want to mention that if you are identifying with any of these or you have a loved one who’s identifying with any of those experiences where they have some healing work that needs to be done, we are here and we have skilled people able to receive you. You do not have to be struggling with an addiction. It could be anxiety, it could be depression. Any of the trauma symptoms that we talked about, we have staff ready to help you heal. Maria, thanks for being our guest this morning. Thank you so much, Dale. The website is McCall center CT dot org and enjoy this beautiful summer weather and we’re glad everybody down to the water. But facility got out safe. Thank you so much. With that we head back to the newsroom. Get your bottom hour update. Hey Jeff. Hello, Dale. Thank you.