Providing Boundaries for Kids

So, let’s break it down a bit.  How can we respect the boundaries of a child?  …especially when many of the kids we help don’t know the concept of boundaries?  To answer these questions, consider what a boundary is.  I like to define boundaries as a place where I stop and you start.  Even though we are the leaders in the relationship with a child, they are still separate and distinct individuals with the need to be protected physically, emotionally and spiritually.  That means the responsibility of protecting their boundaries, even if they are unaware of them, involves ensuring their physical, emotional and spiritual safety.  This can be done in a variety of ways.  For example, if I’m walking with a child whose shoe is untied, I might say, “Hey Buddy, I don’t want you to trip and get hurt.  Let’s stop for a second so you can tie your shoe.”  In doing so, I’m letting them know that I’m watching out for their physical safety.  I could just say, “Let’s stop.  You need to tie your shoe.”  However, in the previous example, the child is explicitly reminded of what I want for them – their physical safety.  The latter way conveys what I want from them – the action of them tying their shoe.

This is a simple example, but when we work to build these types of things in with kids their sense of safety is increased.  This provides them the reassurance that I am looking to guard them and their feeling of needing to excessively guard themselves melts away.  It lays a solid groundwork for the child to be vulnerable, knowing they are safe.  In future emails, we’ll discuss more ways to protect the child’s boundaries.  In the meantime, a simple guide is to focus on using my power for the child rather than using my power over them and making sure to communicate that to them so they understand my heart behind my action.

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Why I Wrote More Than Words: The Freedom to Thrive After Trauma

With the release of my book last month, I’ve been asked why I decided to write.  The answer is quite simple.  It was in response to the continual request for my book over the last 12 years.  Back at the end of 2010, I was the guest trauma expert on a week-long series of television shows and over the years since have been a radio guest numerous times.  I’ve presented to clinicians, foster and adoptive parents, survivor support groups, school in-services, churches and the like.  The case stories I’ve used to explain trauma, its effects and treatment have been something that viewers, listeners, attendees and clients have found useful and wanted a way to be able to pass the information on to others.

I, ironically, had writer’s block that was connected to a difficult experience of my own.  As I pressed into the task, starting, stopping and restarting many times, I finally realized that I was stuck in the message of that experience.  Once day, I asked for help from a therapist trained according to the method of treatment we at Thrive practice.  The very next day, writing was a completely different experience.  The rest of the manuscript flowed.

I’m dyslexic and so have a difficult time reading and that’s compounded if the book is dry and academic.  Books that are written in a more conversational style keep me more engaged and make reading easier for me.  That’s the voice from which I wrote More Than Words.  Trauma is certainly not a light topic, but I wanted to keep the presentation of it as light as possible.  I also have a much easier time retaining principles when I learn them via stories which is why I’ve used so many real-life stories to explain what could otherwise be cumbersome material.

If you’re just looking for an interesting read, I hope you enjoy it.  If you want to become more equipped as a teacher, coach, pastor, doctor, mental health professional, loved one, or parent of someone who has been traumatized, I hope you find it to be an informative and useful resource.  If you have been through trauma, I hope it helps you to see that there is more for you than surviving.  YOU were born to THRIVE!

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“But, he was just a baby…” Preverbal Trauma Does Affect Us

One question I am often asked is if difficult events from early in life can still effect a person.  We can tend to discount them, whether for ourselves or others…”but, he/she/I was just a baby” is how the logic goes.  Because of natural brain development, traumas that occur prior to around age 3 are often not recalled, but that does not mean they were not remembered by the brain.  Early traumatic memories are often stored and remembered in a visceral manner, rather than a verbal one.  That means that they tend to be triggered and affect us, but with a lot less awareness than we may tend to have about traumas that happened later in childhood.  Actually, the research shows that difficult occurrences from our time in the womb can affect us, as well.

Happily, preverbal traumas respond to NRI treatment as much as later traumas.   Addressing such early events often helps adopted folks, people whose mothers endured difficult pregnancies or who had traumatic births.  In my book, More Than Words:  The Freedom to Thrive After Trauma (available on Amazon), I discuss a dramatic case when a young adult processed his traumatic birth and almost immediately was relieved of a myriad of physical ailments.  The brain is part of the body and we tend to forget that, however reformatting how memories are encoded can have ample physical benefits.

Check out this video by science reporter Annie Murphy Paul for an amazing segment on in utero traumas.


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The Automatic Response We Have to Trauma Is Biological

This week, I thought it might be helpful to take a look at the aspects of the instinctual response to trauma that are almost always present in the traumas our clients experience.  A French psychologist in the 1920s, Pierre Janet, was one of the first to identify these components of trauma:

High Alert/Apprehension – when we are trying to determine if we are safe.

Fight/Flight – when we determine that we are in danger, our natural response is to fight or flee.

Freeze – when our attempts or desire to fight or flee are thwarted, we naturally freeze much like a deer in the headlights of a car.

Altered State of Consciousness – during the Freeze, endogenous opiates are released in the body that can equal up to 8mg of morphine.

Auto Pilot – because of these powerful opiates that are released during the Altered State of Consciousness, we go into a sort of ‘auto-pilot’ mode and are much more a passive participant at this point in the traumatic event.

Body Sensations – through a traumatic event we experience various things through our five senses and experience our own internal body sensations, as well.

Attempted Self-Repair – trying to find some way to make ourselves feel better after a traumatic event.

When traumatic events happen, the biological response can cause the event to be experienced as though it is still going on now, no matter how much later that ‘now’ is.  This can be very helpful for us to remember in working with traumatized people and in understanding our own reactions.  So many times, people can seem to be ‘stuck’ in one or more of these trauma components.  In the weeks to come, we’ll take a closer look at what this ‘stuckness’ might look like and, even better, how to get help.

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More Than Words: The Freedom to Thrive After Trauma

Over my dozen years of treating trauma clients, people have consistently asked me for my book.  The thought of writing a book was quite intimidating to me and carving out the time has been no small challenge.  I’ve finally completed this daunting task!  I hope that through personal stories and many case examples I’ve been able to flesh out for you our brief, effective trauma treatment.  There is a great deal of fascinating psycho-biology that sheds great light on the suffering of traumatized people and the freedom that is available.  In More Than Words:  The Freedom to Thrive After Trauma I’ve broken down the neuroscience of trauma upon which our treatment is based so that survivors, the loved ones who support them, and the professionals who seek to help them, might deepen their understanding, compassion, and hope.  There is more to life than surviving!  We were all born to THRIVE!

More Than Words:  The Freedom to Thrive After Trauma by Margaret Vasquez, LPCC, CTT, CITTI is now available on

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Born to THRIVE – Welcome

Welcome to our blog.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sadly, there are many different types of abuse and neglect.  Many of these come before our eyes daily in news stories, on social media, in the lives of those we love, perhaps even in our own memories.  The  greatest tragedy is that many people suffer on for years and decades, unaware that brief, effective treatment with lasting results is possible.  After 16 years of traditional counseling, I finally found effective treatment.  Those many years had cost me a great deal of suffering, money, and hope.  The freedom I experienced and have been privileged to  bring to others as a therapist, have led me to the firm conviction that we are all born to THRIVE.  It is not just for the few.  It is for us all.

Many of those we’ve treated at THRIVE Trauma Recovery tell us, at the start of treatment, that they’ve tried everything in search of relief from the trauma symptoms they’re experiencing, but are still in pain.  Many more don’t know that the suffering they are enduring is rooted in traumas from their past.  PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, depression, oppositional behavior, low self-esteem and many more symptoms hold people bound even decades after painful events.  Regardless of how much or how little treatment you or your loved one has tried and how much or how little trauma knowledge you have, there is freedom from trauma available for you.

On this blog, I’ll be discussing the Neuro-reformatting and Integration (NRI) model of treatment that I developed and have practiced for over a dozen years.  NRI incorporates the Instinctual Trauma Response model of trauma treatment from a connection perspective, since connection is what fuels all aspects of our development throughout our lives and is our deepest source of joy and fulfillment.  I want to help you to increase your understanding of trauma because doing so can increase your understanding of yourself and others, trauma, its effects, the behaviors/suffering it leads to and the fact that it is truly treatable.  You were born to THRIVE!

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