Has trauma changed your relationships?

I specialize in: aquired brain injury, couples, the impact of brain injury on couples and families, trauma and anxiety.

About Barbara Erickson, MA

After years of working with individuals and families who have experienced trauma, I have become acutely aware of the impact that trauma has on survivors and their support systems.

We do not exist in isolation. Everything we do has an affect of someone or something.  So it is, that trauma survivors are changed by the trauma, and so are the people in their support system. I believe that not only is this support system impacted by trauma, but it can be one of the greatest avenues for healing from trauma.

Trauma symptoms such as emotional numbing, heightened irritability, difficulty trusting, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, anxiety and depression challenge the functioning of the relationships within the support system. As part of a vicious cycle, trauma symptoms cause relationship distress and relationship stress can increase trauma symptoms.

Although this is an all too common pattern, it doesn’t have to be this way.


Psychological trauma is the result of an extremely distressing event for which the person is unprepared and unable to cope…



I believe that by strengthening, building and maintaining a healthy support system for trauma survivors that the capacity to heal will improve. We cannot heal in isolation…


Latest News


Sometimes our physical symptoms can be interpreted in a variety of ways. For instance when someone describes butterflies in their stomach, it could mean they are anxious or it may mean they are excited or maybe there is yet another explanation. When my daughter was young, we were going to visit a friend and for the first time, she was to stay for a visit on her own. As we drove there, she said it felt as though there were butterflies in her stomach. I knew that she was probably a bit anxious about staying on her own, but also that she really like the family we were going to visit and was most likely she was also excited. Without asking her about the details her feelings, I asked her what colour the butterflies were. I asked if they were dark in colour or if they were more like the colours of the rainbow. She immediately said she thought they were the colourful kind. With this imagery we were then able to talk about how one feeling can have muliple meanings. It also allowed her to choose her emotion regardless of the physical sensation she was feeling in her body. She chose to be excited. This story illustrates how we can choose a perspective and alter our experience. When our thoughts are focused on fear or negativity, we will often interpret our world in a negative way. If we are feeling light and hopeful we are more likely to see possibility in even difficult situations. But how can we notice how our perspectives are influencing our thoughts and actions... read more

Every Ending is a New Beginning – Mindfulness Day 30

So here we are at the final day of my challenge to post a mindful moment each day of June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness month. It is somewhat fitting that I have decided to be mindful of endings today. One of the toughest parts adjusting to a brain injury is that the life will never be the same. You might look the same after a brain injury, but inside there have been many changes. A brain injury is typically an involuntary change and as a result most survivors are understandably resistant to the change. Embracing memory loss, impulsivity, sleep disturbances, irritability and quick anger is not on the top of the survivor’s list. Most often the survivor and their family would just like life to go back to the way it was before the injury. I suppose in some ways brain injury is a soft ending in that the changes and challenges present themselves over a long period of time. There are the primary changes that you notice right away like changes in the ability to speak or walk. There are the changes that take longer to show themselves, like personality changes. And then there are the secondary changes like the inability to work or maintain relationships in the same way as before the injury. All of these changes result in a very different life than prior to the injury. Because the ending is long, so is the grieving process. Many people have suggested to me that working in the field of brain injury must be sad. And yes there are times when I find the stories... read more

My Big Toe – Mindfulness Day 29

What is your favourite part of your own body? Perhaps you like the shape of your big toe, or the strength of your legs. It could be that you have always been proud of your long eyelashes or that you like the speed and agility of your fingers as you type. Give your body a scan and choose a part for which you feel pride, happiness or admiration. Our inner critic will often direct our attention to parts of our selves of which we are self conscious or embarrassed or unhappy. As you may now know, those things to which you apply your attention usually grow. So if you allow your inner critic to direct your attention, you may find that you are focused on things about yourself which are negative. Today I want you to mindfully direct your attention to something about yourself for which you feel positive emotions and for which you think positive thoughts. Revel in the wonder of your chosen body part and let the sensations marinate today and see if they grow. Day 29: Be mindful of your favourite body part or of a body part that makes you happy today. Notice this body part in detail. Be mindful of how it works for you and of what aspects you feel proud. As you put your attention to this body part be mindful of the physical sensations it feels. Also be aware of your own thoughts and feelings as you keep this body part in your mind throughout the day. Should you find that your inner critic is jealous of all the attention this body... read more