Who Can Suffer From PTSD?

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In the US around 8 million people are suffering from PTSD. Though it’s a disorder commonly associated with veterans, PTSD can affect people from all walks of life. Here are a few things everyone should know.

Understanding PTSD and what causes it?

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder. It usually appears when a person deals with a traumatic experience. Many times PTSD will appear in the case of war veterans and those who’ve experienced military combat.

Combat veterans can be easily triggered by elements such as loud noises and fireworks commonly associated with summer. But, it’s important to remember PTSD does not discriminate. It’s not a disorder reserved only for
our veterans. There are many other types of traumatic experiences that can
lead to PTSD.

More commonly, victims of sexual assault, trauma, violence, disasters, cancer, life-threatening illnesses, and physical abuse can also develop symptoms of PTSD.

Watch Out For Symptoms

As with any disorder, each person can experience PTSD differently. Some of the common symptoms of the disorder come post-trauma in the form of flashbacks, event recollections and even nightmares. Those who suffer can have difficulty sleeping, feel detached and emotionally numb, and avoid various places, people, and things that might remind them of their trauma.

A Journey To Wholeness

Trauma can become fragmented inside of the brain, leaving the brain susceptible to “triggers” and reactions. Trauma therapy can help the brain
put the pieces together in a meaningful way that allows for healing. You can learn to understand and identify triggers and form different responses to them.

You can learn to replace your fearful and negative thoughts with positive ones. You can work through the trauma and allow your brain to reconnect the pieces into a whole story that can be processed and then rewritten. You can move forward with a sense of purpose and hopefulness for the future, and you can ease your fears and worries and learn to trust again.

We’re here to help!

Weakness, Incompetency & Lack Of Manhood: The Dangerous Stigma Surrounding Men’s Mental Health

A close up profile of a man looking down with a blank expression. Men's therapy in Raleigh, NC can offer support for men experiencing depression. Contact a therapist for men in Wake Forest, NC to learn more about therapy for men in Fuquay Varina, NC and more! 27606 | 27526 | 27857

You run like a girl…Man up!… Real men don’t cry…”

A man in camo and dog tags sits as he covers his face. Men's therapy in Raleigh, NC can offers support with therapy for men in Wake Forest, NC. Contact us to learn more about therapy for men in Fuquay Varina, NC and other services. 27606 | 27526 | 27857Unfortunately, you’ve likely heard one of these stereotypical insults before.

They might seem benign on the surface. But, gender stereotypes are very limiting. They can be quite harmful to our personal health and happiness. Women are supposed to be nurturing and men are supposed to be strong. Society does a great job of telling us what we’re supposed to be, how we should act, and what roles we should play in life. This type of thinking is toxic and can cause people to hold back their feelings and interests to “fit in.”

No one may understand this better than our own therapist Steve Cline.

“Being in the military for 20 years, mental health was always something that was a double-edged sword and the civilian world is no different”, Steve explained. “The expectation was to always be fit for duty and that implied your mental/emotional health but if you struggled with it (as everyone does from time to time) your competency was called into question”, he continued.

Steve also explained a lie that propagated throughout the Army. It was that mental health issues were a sign of weakness. Your worth and ability to do your job would get called into question. You may even lose your security clearance. Then, your track towards promotion could grind to a halt.

In other words, being open about your thoughts, feelings, and mental state could cost you your job. Or, a promotion.

“My final years in the Army were in special operations. We had the highest rate of deployments and time away from families in the military,” Steve said.

Unfortunately, many believed that they’d have to go it alone. Vulnerability and humility are also signs of weakness, incompetence, and lack of manhood.

Yet, this type of thinking about men’s mental health is part of civilian life, too. Men feel like they can’t reach out or communicate their feelings in an open way. They see it as a sign of weakness, not strength and stability.

A close up of a military member's hand as they sit on a couch in a therapy office. This could represent men's therapy in Raleigh, NC. Contact a Raleigh, NC therapist to learn more about therapy for men in Fuquay Varina, NC and more! A therapist for men in Wake Forest, NC can tell you more! 27606 | 27526 | 27857As Steve continued his journey into Delta Force, he needed to do a psychological exam. He said they wanted to test their emotional intelligence since it was as important as physical fitness. It was to ensure service members could identify, label, and regulate their thoughts and feelings. This was due to the mental and emotional strain that they would face with the type of missions they would carry out.

This toxic mindset and lie lead to many struggling men, husbands, fathers, and families. To help, The US Special Operations Command put out a video. This was to combat the stigma of mental health because of the misunderstanding associated with getting help.
(watch video: here)

Now, Steve Supports other men overcome this toxic mindset

Despite his uphill battle during his decades of service, we’re thankful that Steve is a part of our Foundations Family Therapy Team! He is able to help people through life’s struggles. We honor his resilience and openness about his first-hand experiences over the years. As Steve says so perfectly, “You can’t have peace without conflict; you can’t have victory without struggle; you can’t have bravery without vulnerability and most importantly, you can’t have wholeness and completeness without mental health.”

We’re here to walk with you!

Begin Men’s Therapy in Raleigh, Fuquay Varina, or Wake Forest, NC

Learning to open up to your emotions is much easier said than done. But, the team of caring therapists at Foundations Family Therapy would be honored to support you in doing so. We offer support in Raleigh, Fuquay Varina, Wake Forest, and across the state via online therapy. To start your therapy journey, please follow these simple steps:
  1. Meet with a caring therapist
  2. Start connecting with our emotions!

Other Services Offered with Foundations Family Therapy

Therapy for men isn’t the only service we offer our Raleigh, Wake Forest, and Fuquay Varina locations. Our team also offers therapy for teens, young adults, families, and couples. We also offer Christian counselinginfertility therapy, therapy for anxietygriefdepression, online therapy, and recovery from trauma. Feel free to learn more by visiting our blog, FAQ, or about page. You can heal, enjoy life once again, reconnect with family and move from surviving to thriving!

How To Stop Blaming Yourself For Everything

EMDR Therapist | Anxiety Treatment | Foundations Family Therapy | Fuquay Varina & Raleigh, NC

Do you find yourself saying “I’m Sorry” multiple times a day?

Constantly apologizing for things you didn’t do or are out of your control?

Why are we so hard on ourselves?

The Voice Of Our Inner-Critic

Self-blame and criticism are behaviors that are learned over time. Maybe you had a particularly critical influence in your life that has taught you to over-apologize. Negative self talk can ruin your self-esteem and confidence.

That destructive voice inside can really hold you back from thriving in life. Negative thinking can affect everything from your relationships to performance at work or school. The good news is you can change your mindset to welcome positivity and cultivate happiness in life in a few simple steps.

Recognize Your Emotions

It’s OK to feel a variety of emotions each day. Sometimes these are negative. What’s more important is to pay attention to triggers when you sleep into a bad mood or become upset. The more in touch you are with your feelings, the better you’ll understand what ignites your inner critic so you can stop it from becoming destructive.

Create A Plan For Positive Self Talk

If you want to stop over apologizing and blaming yourself for everything, then you need to change the way you think. Often times, people who take the blame are very compassionate. They care deeply about others and take the blame so others don’t have to experience negativity.

Start by practicing self-love and care. Speak kindly to yourself. As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

Develop A ‘Glass Half Full’ Mindset

Try seeing life through a different lens! This is what we mean when we talk about going from surviving to thriving. In order to develop that thriving mindset, you’ll have to change your outlook and thinking.

View mistakes as learning opportunities. Accept challenges and defeat as part of life. Look for ways to self-improve without beating yourself up or constantly taking the blame.

Above all, remember to be kind to yourself because you are doing the best you can!

Freedom From Anxiety & Depression Weekend Intensive

Woman looking up in the sunset. Family Counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC 27526 is available to Foundations Family Therapy in Raleigh, NC 27606. You can also get online therapy in North Carolina!

Foundations Center For Trauma Recovery is pleased to announce our upcoming weekend intensive. Lead by Foundation’s Sharon Sheppard, LMFT, CCPT, join us to pave the way for a brighter 2019 by learning how to alleviate depression and manage anxiety and stress by learning new ways to respond to your own thoughts and feelings.

Learn how to stop living on autopilot! We’ll work to align your thoughts with your realty and accept unpleasant experiences as part of life. It’s time to learn how to treat yourself with kindness!

Friday, March 22 6:30-8:30 pm

Saturday, March 23 10-4

Friday, March 29 6:30-8:30 pm


Sign Up Here

How To Be The Best Version Of You This Year

Couple holding hands and looking happy after therapy. Family Counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC 27526 is available to Foundations Family Therapy in Raleigh, NC 27606. You can also get online therapy in North Carolina!

I’m going to do _____ in 2019”, insert any popular resolution (lose weight, exercise more, save money, get a better job) – sound familiar?

As millions of Americans make resolutions to better themselves this year, there’s one big resolution that’s often overlooked and it’s mental wellness. Achieving mental wellness is not about changing who you are. It’s not about losing 40lbs or saving up for an elaborate vacation. Mental wellness is about being the best version of YOU!

The good news is that everyone can achieve mental wellness with the right tools, mindset, and guidance, but it all starts with proper self-care. After all, you can’t always control what life throws your way, but you can control how you take care of yourself. Here’s a quick lesson…

Create Downtime

Notice how we didn’t necessarily say “find a hobby?” That’s because self-care is about what’s best for you! Finding the time to do something healthy that you enjoy (even if it’s technically not a hobby) is beneficial for your mind and happiness. If scrapbooking helps you unwind, then stick with it! The point is to relax and destress in your downtime. Find something that takes your mind off of things and encourages mindfulness so you can live in the present moment.

Develop A Positive Mindset

Much of what we experience in life can feel more or less stressful based on our attitude. Sometimes, it’s really all about your point of view. Ever notice how some people handle life’s challenges with ease while others are shaken to their core? It’s all about perception and building resilience. Start by focusing on gratitude so you’ll start to see the glass half full.

Embrace Meditation/Prayer

Prayer and meditation can nurture your mind and soul. Many people feel a deeper sense of connection and comfort during prayer or meditation. Spirituality and/or religion can provide comfort and joy in your life. It can also help you reconnect with yourself. Being alone with your thoughts brings clarity.

This year, don’t fall victim to failure and burnout trying to keep up with popular resolutions. Do what works for you. Focus on improving yourself and learn to welcome happiness. We can help you create a self-care plan for the near year that works with your lifestyle and beliefs. Give us a call today!

Three Effects of Poor Sleep on Your Mental Wellness


Sleep is an essential part of our daily lives. It’s not just important for getting you through a long day, it also plays a big role on your mental health and wellness.

Unfortunately, studies show that nearly 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders every year. Sleep deprivation can take a toll on your overall health. In fact, people with chronic sleep disorders are more likely to develop diabetes, obesity, and other health complications. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s more…

Poor sleep can greatly affect your mental health and wellness, too. Here’s how…

1. It can worsen existing mental health issues. Lack of sleep and chronic fatigue can exaggerate symptoms of depression and anxiety. You might experience symptoms like a racing heart, mood swings, and paranoia just to name a few. Furthermore, chronic sleep issues don’t just contribute to mental health issues, they can cause them, too.

2. Poor sleep can affect focus. This is especially true in children. Various sleep problems affect up to 50 percent of children with ADHD. For adults with ADHD, it can lead to restlessness and shorter sleep cycles. Sleep disorders can cause mood swings, outbursts, and decline of function in the classroom. Remember, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age get 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours of sleep and teens ages 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours a day.

3. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. This is why it’s so important to treat the underlying cause of a sleep disorder. The good news is that the most common treatment for common sleep disorders like insomnia is lifestyle change. The healthy combination of lifestyle changes, behavioral strategies, and therapy can go a long way in your overall health.

If you or a loved one is having trouble sleeping because of stress, depression, or anxious thoughts- give us a call.

Download our FREE Sleep Guide for some great tips that will get you on the road to a good night’s sleep


Trauma-Sensitive Yoga: A Journey To Healing

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of yoga. It’s a great way to strengthen your mind and body.   It’s a spiritual and physical discipline with Indian roots that date back centuries before our time. There’s a lot of mainstream buzz surrounding the healthy benefits of yoga. But, there’s a lesser known purpose you might not know about. 

Now, there’s growing evidence that aspects of yoga can be used to promote healing for individuals with trauma. As a trauma professional, this exciting and promising news is life changing.

Trauma is a generic and broad word. So, let’s get more specific about the type of trauma that’s often healed by trauma informed yoga. 

Research and professional experience indicates that Individuals with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), developmental trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may all benefit from trauma informed yoga.

The specific benefits include helping clients regain comfort in their bodies, counteract rumination—re-thinking the same thoughts repeatedly which can quickly increase anxiety and deepen depression and help improve self-regulation—one’s ability to manage emotions effectively.

We’ve all heard the stories of people displaying superhuman strength in the face of physical adversity; lifting a car off someone trapped below or treading water for hours or days until help arrives. This ability is because of the brain’s ability to respond immediately to threatening situations with a surge of stress hormones. We call it fight or flight mode, but few folks know about the brain’s third optional response mode of freeze. 

In describing the freeze response, Peter Levine uses the example of a cheetah stalking an impala.  When the cheetah catches its prey, the impala falls to the ground and plays dead to protect himself.  The numbness will lessen the pain or terror that would normally follow even if its killed. 

Fight, flight and freeze are all normal responses to extreme threat.  It becomes a problem when responses persist in the body after the danger has passed.  Bessel van der Kolk, a pioneer in the field of trauma, describes trauma as “hijacking the body.”  The body, along with the mind, remains in a state of high alert (fight or flight) or under-arousal (freeze). Trauma takes a heavy toll on the body—the body absorbs and anticipates trauma making the individual more likely to be hyper-alert, hyper-aroused and unable to calm themselves.

How does this relate to trauma informed yoga? 

Through trauma informed yoga, the body is given the opportunity to let go of the need to fight, flee or freeze. This is taught by learning to release tension, reduce fear, and tolerate body sensation. Trauma informed yoga helps you learn to calm your mind and calm your physical responses too, and, in turn, your emotions.

Furthermore, it can help you regain a feeling of safety inside your own body. At first glance, trauma informed yoga looks a lot like traditional yoga. But, once you begin the class, the differences become apparent. 

Trauma informed yoga does not focus on poses, or breathing. It’s about letting the body feel what it feels, without judgement and with a developing knowledge that it is safe in this place and safe within your own body.

I’m beginning a trauma informed yoga class on Thursday, October 5th from 10 to 11 am. 

There are two requirements to attend the class; you have a trauma history, and you are currently active in therapy addressing your trauma. If you fall into both of those categories, I’d love to have you join us on Friday mornings at 10 am. 

If you read this post and think, “this describes me but I’m not in therapy,” please give us a call! We have several trauma therapists available to meet with you individually. 

I look forward to you joining us as we work toward establishing a safe place in class and, most importantly, within your body.

Sharon Sheppard

Don’t Survive, THRIVE!

Thrive Blog Photo Looking happy after therapy for depression and anxiety in Raleigh, NC | online therapists in north carolina

Foundations Family Therapy is a practice deeply routed in the mission to help our patients thrive instead of survive. You’ve probably heard us use the phrase before but what does it really mean to thrive instead of survive?

There’s a significant difference between the two ways of life. Maybe you’re stuck in survival mode because of habit or depression. Maybe it’s your mindset that holds you back each day. The good news is that anyone can thrive with the right support and guidance. Here’s a closer look at how…

A Surviving Life

When you live your life based on survival, you simply “continue to exist”. Life becomes a habitual routine. You go through the motions day after day but never really experience life. You might feel disconnected and detached from your relationships.

Sometimes, a surviving life can lead to depression, anxiety and a downward mental decline. Someone living their life in survival mode might also isolate in fear of self-expression.

You don’t speak your mind in fear of disagreement from others.

Are you listening only to provide an answer instead of really connecting and engaging in meaningful conversations?

Do you fear change and view adversity as an ‘end all’ situation?

Sound all too familiar?

If so, don’t fear! You can change your life so you can start to thrive. Here’s what you have to look forward to in a thriving life.

A Thriving Life

Have a sense that there is something bigger for you to do? Looking for a meaningful and fulfilling life? Start by changing your mindset. Do a little self-exploration! Identify negative behaviors and habits. Access your strengths and weaknesses for confidence and improvement. Surround yourself with others who are living a thriving life. After all, happiness is contagious!

Focus on the positive things in life and practice gratuity. Work on meeting adversity with an open mind and positive attitude. Those who thrive realize there’s a learning opportunity in every setback. Think about how you want to feel rather than what you want to have or do and you’ll thrive.

You don’t have to do it alone! We’re here to walk with you every step of the way on your transformation from surviving to thriving.

How Healthy Relationships Contribute To Mental Wellness

Couple looking happy and snuggling in a field | Couples therapy in Raleigh, NC and marriage counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC | online therapists in North Carolina can help at Foundations Family Therapy

This week is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Week and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is helping spread awareness with their theme, ‘The Power of Connection.’ This is a wonderful theme considering we connect as humans through meaningful relationships.

Connection at a deeper level in a healthy relationship plays a huge role in your ability to thrive in life for many reasons.

Healthy relationships provide support and connection.

They build over time which helps people grow stronger together. They provide security and stability which can give us a great sense of purpose in life. True relationships help build our wellbeing by acting as a safe haven for our thoughts and feelings. As a result, a good relationships helps us know we are understood. This helps us to open up about both positive and negative experiences in life.

Relationships also inspire compassion.

Good relationships generate feelings of compassion and empathy. We learn to care deeply for those we love. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, then you know it’s a two-way street. It’s great to have someone to confide in but it’s equally important to listen. Your compassion in a relationship can help your loved one find optimism and relief.

Happiness is another great benefit of being in a solid relationship.

Science actually tells us that giving freely creates joy! Studies show that giving is one of they keys to happiness. In fact, when you give your time, energy and love to someone you care deeply about, you’ll feel happy and fulfilled in return. Your happiness will help you function well and, chances are, it might even spread to others in your life.

Of course not all relationships are healthy and happy. Some experience rough patches that need a little guidance. We are all imperfect individuals coming together trying to connect, engage, and balance multiple goals, dreams, and demands.

What we really crave in a healthy relationship is connection, support, love, and acceptance. Let a member of our team help you start thriving in life and the relationships that matter most. Give us a call today!

A Five-Step Guide to Healing Emotional Trauma

If you’ve experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that’s left you feeling hopeless and emotionally unstable, you may have been traumatized. Emotional trauma can leave you struggling with difficult emotions, memories, flashbacks and anxiety that won’t go away. Trauma can also leave you feeling numb and disconnected from others. It’s not something you can just “get over”. Healing from emotional trauma is a process. Luckily, there are things you can do to speed up your recovery.

Step One: Reestablish a Routine

After a traumatic event, getting back to a routine can help speed up the healing process. There’s comfort in the familiar. Even if your professional routine is disrupted from the trauma, try to establish a new normal with things like eating, sleeping and spending time with others who support you.

Step Two: Get Moving

Physical activity has many proven health benefits. It can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and memory loss. Exercise works as an instant mood boost which is essential when recovering from trauma. Burn off adrenaline and release endorphins that lead to healthy, holistic healing. This is why we offer yoga at our Trauma Center in Raleigh specifically designed for healing trauma.

Step Three: Stay Connected

Healthy relationships, group activities, and social events are beneficial to those healing from trauma. The most important thing is NOT to isolate. You might fell unsure about others. Some emotional trauma sufferers are unable to trust others. Support and open communication are essential in healing.

Step Four: Eat Right

Food is fuel for your body. Your thoughts and feelings can be affected by what you eat. The gut-brain connection is an essential part of overall wellness. Your gut and brain are connected through millions of nerves. Fermented foods (like yogurt) and Omega-3 fats are great choices to help ensure your gut-brain connection runs smoothly.

Step Five: Join a Support Group

You don’t have to suffer alone. Our Trauma Center in Raleigh, NC, offers specific support and healing for those who suffer from trauma. Work with a professional who can help you heal. Our team can help you gain freedom from your struggles.

Learn more about our Trauma Recovery Center and the programs available for holistic healing.