Residential School Survivors

The history of residential schools has been identified as having long lasting and intergenerational effects on the physical and mental well-being of Indigenous populations in Canada.

The Indian Residential School – Resolution Health Support Program (IRS RHSP) is administered by FNHA Health Benefits in order to provide health support services directly to former students and their families to safely address a broad spectrum of wellness issues related to the impacts of Indian Residential Schools (IRS).

Individual and family counselling is one component of RHSP, and this component is intended to provide counselling services to assist clients to find ways of healing from IRS experiences.

There are 4 main areas of the brain that are affected by trauma:  The hippocampus, the amygdala, the prefrontal cortex and the brain stem.

Hippocampus

When we feel threatened, the brain signals the body to release stress hormones including cortisol and andrenalin.  Cortisol has been shown to damage cells in the hippocampus.  Research shows that people who suffer from chronic trauma from childhood abuse for example have a smaller hippocampus.

Amygdala

This tiny structure deep inside our brain is the fear center.  This subcortical area is outside of our conscious awareness or control and it’s job is to receive all incoming information.  Everything we hear, touch, smell, see and taste.  If it detects that a dangerous threat is present, it produces fear in us.  In the traumatized brain, this area is overactivated.

Prefrontal Cortex

Known as the thinking center located at the top of your head it is responsible for rational thought, problem solving, planning, personality and empathy.  In the traumatized brain, this area is underactivated.

Anterior Cingulate Cortex

This area is known as the emotional regulation center.  It is located next to the prefrontal cortex but is much deeper inside the brain.  It is partly responsible for regulating emotion and has a close relationship with the prefrontal cortex.  When this area is strong, we are able to manage difficult emotions.  In the traumatized brain, this area is underactivated.

Survivors of trauma will sometimes feel that they are incapable of managing their emotions.  In a frightening situation they may experience the stress long after the event is over and have a hard time returning to calm, which is largely in part due to a weakened anterior cingulate cortex.

When treating psychological trauma, it is important to first calm strong emotions and reduce the high-stress ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction, and to help to stabilize mood and energy levels.  Rebuilding a sense of trust and safety is also essential.

How Neurofeedback Works

As a result of trauma some parts of your brain are imbalanced.  Neurofeedback balances the brain so that it can work more effectively.  You can actually rewire your brain for recovery.

We start with a QEEG brain map assessment that measures the electrical activity in the brain and shows us the areas that are imbalanced.

Neurofeedback doesn’t have any talking. There is no conscious work with a person’s mind; it’s just unconscious work of the brain.  The ideal scenario is to get your conscious mind out of the way of your unconscious learning. Research shows that neurofeedback clients who are in a passive and relaxed state progress the fastest. When clients get treated, their processing, cognitive abilities and self-esteem can improve significantly.

Red Light Therapy

Your brain, body and skin love red light because it penetrates 2 inches into the brain and body: increasing cell metabolism and growth, detoxing waste products, and fighting off depression from Seasonal Affective Disorder and other causes. Research has shown bright light to be excellent for any kind of depression, as well as attention, because it helps your brain grow.

It is also very relaxing, which is one of the key components in trauma treatment. We also use infrared heat to help the body relax.

Meditation

Meditation optimizes brain connectivity by changing neural networks and by using your focus “muscles” in your brain. It’s good to receive both unconscious (neurofeedback) and conscious (meditation) treatments simultaneously, which gives you more complete brain exercise and rebalancing.

Changing the brain takes effort, repetition and time.  When you package all these things together, the whole mind-body system moves more quickly into balance, compared to using any one treatment by itself.

At Brainigo Brain Fitness Center we help you balance your mind and body to improve trauma and other cognitive issues. If you are ready to start your journey to a better brain give us a call at 250-941-5596.

Dr. Tom Diamond is a registered service provider with First Nation Health Authority Health Benefits Program. To find out if you are eligible for funding, please contact us.

 

My response to stress has changed.  I no longer feel anxiety when a stressful situation arises.

SD

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