InterviewsPTSD

Meet Roland Bal, Founder of the Facebook Group “Resolving Trauma and PTSD”

Roland Bal is the founder of the Facebook community “Resolving Trauma and PTSD,” which provides information and help for survivors and people who are looking to recover from trauma.  He has traveled the world in his studies, and currently resides in Barcelona, Spain where he works in private practice in addition to providing one-to-one counseling and online courses for people across the globe. He is the author of the Trauma Essentials eBooks, which can be found here, as well as a blog dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of trauma and PTSD.  Check out his website to learn more!

You are the founder of Resolving Trauma and PTSD, a Facebook community with over 20,000 members that focuses on healing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Can you begin by telling us your motivations for creating this community? Who did you hope to reach?

Facebook, right now, is a great way to reach many people that relate to any topic so it makes sense to share my resources on trauma there and create a community. 

My fb page is meant to educate and provide support for those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress. It has the intention to convey that you can rebound from trauma and that it does not have to be a life sentence.

How did you get into the field of psychology, specifically the study and treatment of PTSD? What made you decide to pursue this as a career?

I started with different forms of bodywork in my early 20s; massage, cranio-sacral therapy, visceral manipulation. After seeing many, many people for treatment, I noticed that pains and especially chronic pains will shift, after treatment, but not necessarily resolve.

I learned that most chronic pains have some form of emotional residue (trauma) related to them and hence my interest grew to dig into that.

After following several trainings in body-based trauma work; somatic experiencing, somato-emotional release, I started to develop and integrate a treatment module myself that is accurate, holistic and turns out to be very effective for my patients.

In addition to seeing clients in private practice in Barcelona, you offer one-to-one online counseling sessions that are based on a somatic psycho-therapeutic approach, utilizing audio and video to help heal trauma in patients across the globe. How is communicating with patients online different than in-person?  

Every form of working has its pros and cons, independent from if it is online or face-to-face. What determines effective treatment though is a commitment and willingness to work through the tough parts of trauma and that starts with an intention and determination to want to heal. Of course, my experience and insights into trauma as well as the ability to ‘hold space’ for whatever emotional activation that might come up are equally essential.

To come back to your question: online work limits in some ways in using physical space and distance as tools to work within the treatment process. That said, I see a lot of clients with high anxiety levels and not having to be physically with someone else in the room helps them to not shut down and of course assist the healing process. Besides that, the work is very similar face-to-face or online.

Your main and related fields of study are expansive, and you draw on the teachings of many different experts in your work. Have you found that there is one technique in particular that patients seem to respond to the best? Which is your favorite method of therapy?

The model I adhere to the most is the one I set up myself. You will see this model reflected in my writings and other resources on the website.

I advocate an integration of a cognitive and somatic approach as one without the other will be incomplete and thus not assist fully in recovery. My approach focuses on regulating, processing and containing the processes of dissociation, the fight-flight-freeze-please responses and re-learning boundaries and vulnerability. In a nutshell!

You’re the author of several articles which explore trauma and PTSD in depth, as well as The Trauma Essential EBooks, which serve as a resource for many individuals who suffer from trauma and PTSD to help understand and resolve their trauma. How is education important to the treatment of trauma? How can better outreach and understanding benefit individuals dealing with trauma, and our society as a whole?

Knowledge, for most people, is a first entry to start giving some sense of containment to the overwhelming feelings they are experiencing.

When you start to understand your reactions and symptoms as coping survival patterns rather than outright self-sabotage it acknowledges to yourself that you are not crazy. Your body-mind is actually very intelligent in its responses. This helps to ease self-reproach, blame and guilt as well as moving away from the stigma around trauma and take responsibility to start to heal.

When an individual changes, it affects society on a whole.

Your approach to resolving trauma is more spiritual. How is spirituality tied to trauma, and how can increased spirituality help to mediate symptoms?

Post-Trauma Stresses are really a set of reactive patterns due to feeling overwhelmed, out of control

and helpless. It is these reactions or coping patterns that helped you survive but they also perpetuate your post-trauma symptoms. If you keep in fight, flight, freeze or pleasing mode long after the original trauma(s) happened that starts to define your reality and you will keep reenacting and attracting similar situations that will be re-traumatizing.

Once you start to see how that works and you become aware of those patterns at that very moment you bring in another element. You can call that observation, awareness, presence, spirituality – it does not matter. That very presence creates a little space, a little distance and dis-identification with what has been occurring automatically and hard-wired in you.

The process then starts to move from duality, from reaction – into non-duality or presence, observation, awareness. It is like the energy is held within the material, within the nervous system and thoughts and this limitation gives rise to so many ailments and pain symptoms. Once that energy starts to free up it can move back into presence or non-duality and conflict ceases.

Lastly, what advice do you have for people who wish to recover?

Keep going at it with intervals of letting it rest. Follow what your needs are at any given moment. If you need more knowledge; read, listen, watch. When you are ready to go a little deeper – work within groups or better still, find someone you resonate with and work one-on-one through your issues. Doing personal counseling, with the right person, is like taking an airplane; you will cover the distance much faster! Don’t worry about money. Money follows right intention. Be resourceful. And finally – there is nothing wrong with you! You have a certain set of survival responses in relation to an overwhelming period or incident(s). You will never ‘get over it’ but you can certainly move through, process and/or contain it and you will be more resilient and resourceful after that. Post-Trauma does not have to be a life sentence.

Thank you, Roland Bal, for your community, outreach, and the information you share, and thank you for giving this interview! 

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12 Comments

  1. This article talks about how Roland Bal has developed a community for resolving trauma and PTSD within helping others with one-to-one counseling, a dedicated blog and book. Facebook is a good source for connecting to others but for some people it isn’t always the best resource due to seeing how other people’s lives around them are progressing when a person may feel at a stand-still. I think also the content that is being on facebook and social media can trigger depression in a lot of people using the platform. I like that fact that there is a blog to help be an outside resource from a platform like facebook to be in connection to those who don’t want to be trigger or feel certain emotions from being on that site. I found it interesting that Roland Bal discussed holistic treatments to managing these issues because sometimes people don’t adjust well with the multiple pills people must take in order to find one that works for them. It can be more of a self-help way that may initial help progress a person without having to remember taking a pill or having side effects. I really enjoy what Roland Bal is doing to help others in need and giving guidance as a person to help other recovery. A lot of people going through trauma are afraid or don’t have the motivation to address the problems that linger within because it is a painful subject that we only like to forget and not have to reflect on. Everything takes time and identifying the problems and learning ways to manage and heal yourself to grow and maintain one’s personal health is essential to help live with the pains that will forever be with us as individuals and human beings.

  2. Being someone who wants to work with veterans (a population that highly deals with PTSD) I cannot stress how important it is that people start to acknowledge that PTSD is a real thing! I love how he discusses how he goes about treatment. He really seems to have a “big picture” point of view in the aspect of not only looking at the psychological part of it, but the physical aspect of it, as well! He really seems to know his stuff! When he was talking about the “fight, flight, freeze or pleasing”, I kind of had an “Aha! moment”. It’s one of those things that just makes so much sense, but you don’t entirely realize it. I think he phrased that perfectly. I’m really excited (for lack of a better word) I found this article, I’m really interested in reading his Ebooks now.

  3. PTSD, in recent times, has been a topic of great discussion, oftentimes we discuss PTSD related to retired military personnel, rape victims, witnesses of violence/ people who have survived violent acts. This interview was very well written and just left me with a few questions regarding how we, as a society, treat individuals with PTSD: 1. What can the average person do to not only financially aid those suffering with this disorder, but also emotionally? 2. What can society do to better accommodate people suffering? 3. What social/ political changes can take place. All in all this was a well constructed, professional interview.

  4. I loved everything about this! Roland Bal truly understands the depth of PTSD. He explains what happens to a person with PTSD very well and how the nervous system reacts and sometimes may get stuck. Being aware of what is and has happened to your body and mind makes so much sense. I believe many who suffer from this if given the tools, the steps he suggests to move through it would in time be successful.
    So many of our veterans suffer from this and their lives are never the same. Education and awareness and time could help so many. I would love to hear the details of his process to get through it? I also would like to know why we cannot get this man to work and educate our veterans and their families. He is brilliant!

  5. Mr. Bal covered aspects of PTSD that I haven’t even considered until now in this article. He discussed how PTSD is related to spirituality and how he goes about with treatment. He has clearly dedicated much of his time to trauma and PTSD and continues to by creating a blog and a Facebook community for those who suffer from PTSD. I personally have never suffered from PTSD but Mr. Bal’s work is still important to me. It’s incredible how he reached out to those who were in need and comforted them.

  6. A very enlightening read for sure! Where I currently live there have been many arguments and displeasure expressed on the topic of veteran health care. Many residents here have served in the war and they and their families are outraged by the slow process of receiving health care. Not only have these people suffered physical injuries but more devastating is that they suffer physiological ones that won’t go away. Roland Bal is doing a wonderful service to veterans and those who suffer from PTSD by spreading awareness and reaching out to those individuals in need of help.

  7. Wonderful! This is an area that I’ve always have been interested in and I could never find ways to help out people who have expirenced major trauma. I do see a lot that PTSD has a very negaitive connotation and its great to be able to shead more light on this disorder and show that it can get better.
    I would have like to read about how people can help others with PTSD, but I’m sure when I look through the links and his blog I will find more.

  8. This was a rather interesting interview in comparison to others on this site since you did not approach a stereotypical professor or doctor that meets only with clients, but rather an individual that works with social media, in-person therapy, and ebooks to support others. It’s satisfying to see groups embracing social media and modern technology more to assist others, especially in a subject area as serious as post-traumatic stress disorder and the different veins of trauma. Bal’s intrigue in observing physical ailments to PTSD and trauma is very inspiring, in my opinion, due to the questioning of whether physical/biological factors can play into one’s mental state. Through looking at his website, he also shows an interest in hypnotherapy and positive psychology, two growing trends in the field of therapy and psychology. I feel that the questions you asked Bal are very intelligent and that you successfully streamlined the conversation from one point to the next. My strongest recommendation would be amending long-run sentences into smaller, yet still compact sentences. A reader can, at times, get lost amongst longer sentences and it may result in a lack of proper understanding. However, the topic and interview are extremely compelling. It is very refreshing to see more attention drawn to a seriously neglected issue such as PTSD and trauma, and I look forward to seeing further growths in support and studies.

  9. This has been my favorite interview thus far. It is apparent that you took much effort and time in researching the subject of your interview and his work. I really appreciate Bal’s holistic approach to therapy. Even moreso, I appreciate that he makes it a point to emphasize, although heightened due to the trauma, the biological significance/ naturalness of the patient’s physiological responses. I believe that having this mindset can be incredibly effective in assisting the patient in not feeling less than or different from those whom have not had the same circumstances. I would like to know if Bal is familiar with logotherapy, a concept developed by Dr. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor. Like Bal, Frankl’s methodology is person-oriented with a seemingly shared belief in finding meaning in suffering and choosing one’s response to trauma.

    Terrific Interview!

  10. I enjoyed the questions and responses of this interview and think was well-done and informative. If I had to suggest anything, I’d request larger images, since the text is hard to read on the chart.

    It’s a curious thing how the muscles in the body might hold onto previous traumas and psychological pains. I’ve read briefly about something similar called trauma release exercises(TRE) that are supposed to help with PTSD, but I’m not sure how credible the practices are or what studies have been conducted to test the validity of this sort of therapy.

  11. Great interview ! I think Roland is one of the deepest experts in healing trauma globally. There are other blogs and FB pages which are a good resource though they are mainly meant to make a trauma sufferer validated and cope up. I have not come across such powerful insights as in Roland’s e-books and meditations in such few words. His writing is designed like the iPhone user interface, if there is anything useless it is removed and each sentence oozes with such insight and direction that you wonder why didn’t I discover this guy earlier. His perspectives on spirituality and awakening is superior to the best of the gurus I have come across in my last 8 years of journey. He appears to be very down to earth and focused on helping others heal. He needs to be a name like Peter Levine so that the trauma injured world gets the most out of his teachings. So thank for your efforts in making him famous.

  12. This article gave a very good low level look at PTSD and demonstrates that there are much more resources that readers can reach out to. I noticed that on both the first and second questions there were no response to the last question: “Who did you hope to reach?” and “watch made you decide to pursue this as a career?” These are two important questions that I would have liked answered. These answers can be assumed in the answers but, these should have been answered directly to make a statement. The question “How is communicating with patients online different than in-person?” did not seem to have a clear answer. There were some vague answers but having been involved in both direct one on one counseling and online counseling, I expected a bit better of an explanation. I don’t get that if you read only this article one could determine that the authors approach was his own and spiritual. As I said a good low lever introduction to let reader to start to understand and pursue if they feel they are affected by PTSD.

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