Dawn Institute strives to provide quality educational material free of charge to our community. Browse our extensive catalog of articles written by our therapists on a variety of mental health topics.



Over Perceiving Threat, Under Perceiving Safety 

I walked through the grocery store jumping around from side to side sure that something was about to happen. When I turned the corner, I put my arms up ready to fight, as an 80-year-old woman who was no threat turned the corner and almost collided with me. Having just returned home from Afghanistan it was understandable that I was on guard, but what I didn’t know then was WHY?  Why was I walking around as if someone or something was about to harm me? Another time, a friend made a comment that made me feel insecure and BAM! There

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How Our Bodies Store Trauma

We now have more scientific evidence than ever showing the relationship between the mind and body. Most of us understand how diet can influence mental health (example: giving a child a sugary snack before bedtime). However, we also need to understand the very real physical effects of psychological stress and trauma on the body, particularly with trauma that hasn’t been fully processed or even acknowledged by the person who experienced it. Unprocessed trauma may get “stored” or “stuck” –not just in our subconscious mind and memory–but throughout our physical being. Trauma is Trauma: Big or Small Most of us will experience some

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Healing Trauma- Part 2

If you recall, in my last blog I talked through the definition of trauma and how trauma can get stored in the body.  Trauma leaves an impact long after it’s over.  Chronically freezing, trying to escape, fighting, or collapsing.  But why? Why do our bodies get caught like this? How We Get Stuck Well, there are few explanations for this: Time Stamping: Our central nervous system (made up of our brain stem and spinal cord) is terrible at time stamping.  A lot of people ask me to define “time stamping,” which makes sense.  It’s not a common term.  Time stamping

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Healing Trauma- Part 1

Trauma.  This is such a buzz word right now.  I’m grateful in some ways that more people and leaders are recognizing the impact of trauma and doing something about it.  As with many buzz words, though, the word can become confusing. What is trauma? How do I know if it applies to me? No one ever hit me growing up, this isn’t something I went through. Let’s start from square one.  First, in the past we have tried to define trauma in two categories: -Big T trauma -Little T trauma Big T trauma includes what comes to mind for most

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Keep an Open Mind and Try Again- A Teen’s Experience with Therapy

I started therapy about a year and a half ago, when I was 16. When I came into therapy, I was very nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. I had discussed going to therapy several times with my parents. I had anxiety. I definitively decided to at the beginning of my junior year, after frequently leaving class and dreading school every day. I go to a small school. It is known for the difficulty of its academics and tight-knit community. Once I got into a friend group it was hard to expand who I talked to. However, my

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Helping Children Navigate Emotions

Do you remember your parents talking to you about how to feel anger, sadness, or any emotion at that?  A common answer I get from clients is “no”. I can definitely say I don’t remember anyone in my family telling me how to feel or express any type of emotion.  This is very common.  I feel society has engrained in us that there is no need to teach our kiddos how to show and feel emotion.  I’ve worked with many different cultures and all but one has told me showing emotion is a sign of weakness; yet I also hear

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Challenge. Nurture. Repeat.

Several years ago, I was walking through the primate exhibit at the zoo when a baby monkey caught my eye.  If you ever want to get my attention quickly, put a baby anything within my view and I will be captivated.  So, there I was oooing and aaaaing over this cute little animal.  As I was watching the baby monkey, I couldn’t help but notice something happening between the mother monkey and the baby.  Let me see if I can paint this picture. At initial glance, they mother and infant were cozied up together with the baby clinging to the

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ACEs and Resiliency in Kids

Ever wonder what ACEs stands for and why it is important to understand? According to the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, ACEs stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences and was one of the largest studies done on the impact of childhood abuse and neglect on health and well-being later in life. The original ACE study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente from 1995-1997 and included two waves of data collection. More than 17,000 people participated in physical exams and confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences, current health status, and behaviors. The ACE survey consisted of ten questions. You can find the

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How to Stay Connected to Your Kids Post Romantic Relationship

            After a separation or divorce, relationships can be difficult. We may find ourselves separating from our children by getting lost in things like work or even lost in new dating experiences.  However, this is a crucial time to show to your kiddos that love still exists, relationships are good, and each should still be celebrated!             I feel one of the most innocent and amazing things about kiddos is their ability to love unconditionally and have all the hope in the world.  That is something we should be fostering intentionally so we are not hurting their ability to love

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