• Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS

On the Couch with Janet Bayramyan

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

Welcome! To our series of blog post in which I, Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW have the pleasure of interviewing one of our therapist here at Traveling Light Counseling. In our series of couch interviews the therapist will be offering us a glimpse into their speciality by answering questions about topics relevant to their field and imparting a few tips, ideas, and suggestions on ways to travel lighter.

As a disclaimer these interviews are by no means a substitution for therapy and if in need of more specialized, personalized and/or intense help please find a therapist that would best fit your situation.

Here with me today is Janet Bayramyan, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and author who specializes in helping individuals and couples from a trauma focused perspective.   She has over 5 years experience supporting individuals and couples through healing of past and current distressing events. She helps and guides individuals and couples along the path of growth with focus on helping them develop healthy boundaries, communication skills, coping skills, relationship stresses and helps those struggling with long distance relationships (just to name a few of what she brings to the room). She provides her services through various channels including individual and couples counseling, EMDR Therapy, and Support groups.

So, today's interview revolves around our current COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic:

Question: How can a Trauma Counselor help me during this pandemic?


A trauma therapist will understand that you're in a state of heightened emotional arousal, meaning increased fear, chaos, uncertainty, and loss. You may be dealing with loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of significant events that you were looking forward to. A trauma therapist will help you conceptualize what's been happening for you personally mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually and assist you with coping skills to help you get through this time.

Question: What stress reduction techniques would be helpful during this pandemic?


There are many! I recommend:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend watching the news or social media. Perhaps limiting to one national and one local news story per day is helpful.

  • You can also turn off app notifications and social media notifications to give your mind a break.

  • To help manage anxiety I recommend to engage in movement of the body. Walking, running, online yoga, online workouts as it is important in changing the body chemistry.

  • There are also a lot of great guided meditations online to help with distracting the mind, getting more oxygen to the body and overall slowing the body and the nervous system down.

  • Finding humor through television and movies, comedy shows, etc also pose as healthy distractions from current events. 

Question: How can a trauma counselor help me respond to the current crisis of our world?


Trauma counselors can support in helping every individual step out of survival mode, if possible, and move into thriving and healing mode. We can do this with techniques to support verbally and physically processing trauma reminders in the memory and trauma reminders in the body. A trauma therapist can also help you problem solve some of the barriers you are experiencing whether it relates to work, family, children, etc.

Question: How can a disaster affect my past or present trauma?


If you experienced a past trauma, a disaster can bring up past memories or reminders, even if the trauma from the past is unrelated to the current distress. It can impact how we function and it can bring the past to the forefront.

Question: What are some grief reactions I can be experiencing during this current crisis?


We are all grieving at this time. Some have experienced loss through losing a loved one to COVID-19. Others have experienced a loss in their job and job security. Others may experience loss by loss of beloved significant events such as weddings, birthdays, travel plans, baby showers, etc. We are all grieving something even if it is simply the ability to go to the grocery store without a panic attack or going to the office.

Some of the reactions can include feeling denial, denial that this is even a problem. Bargaining, which means, potentially trying to negotiate with a higher power for the problem to stop. Parts of grief can also include feelings of anger, anger that this experience is happening to them and causing significant challenges. Also, feelings of acceptance can come up through the grieving process. We all will likely be cycling through all of these emotions, in different orders, and it's completely recommended to feel these feelings. There's no timeframe for these feelings, and for you to go through the grieving. Every individual is different. And that's okay.  

Question: What are some effective stress management techniques that can help me catch my breath?


Some simple stress management techniques include connecting to the senses. For example, sitting in your room, name 5 objects that you see. Great job. Once you've done that, name 5 objects that are the color white. Notice how you feel after that. You've connected to your sight sense. It instantly brings you to the present moment. Now, try this one. Pick up a pen. Notice how it feels in your hand. Notice if you feel tension in a part of your hand. If so, try to loosen the grip. Notice yourself squeezing the pen and then releasing. You've successfully connected with the touch sense. These basic techniques can help you move from feeling anxious, to being more in the present moment.

Question: Why do I feel more impacted by the pandemic?  Is it because of my past trauma?


It's possible. I wouldn't be able to fully answer this question without having met you or spoken to you, however what I can say is that if you have experienced a past trauma, it's possibly that the pandemic can feel debilitating. It's also possible that living through this pandemic can also feel calming. If you feel calm right now, it's quite possible that growing up you experienced chaos through traumatic events, and thus, your system is used to feeling chaos. This is incredibly important to be worked through.

Janet's final thoughts: If it feels like you're living in survival mode, that means that you are. Right now, collectively we are all experiencing trauma in the form of a pandemic. The pandemic is impacting our financial health, making it challenging to meet some of our basic needs, and it certainly instills fear. The trauma may show up in the form of feeling frozen, completing minimal tasks, having difficulty sleeping, little or increased appetite, avoiding connecting with others, fears of leaving your home, or increase in alcohol or drug use. These symptoms are normal, given the circumstances. If you find that you are experiencing any of these symptoms, trauma therapy will be a good fit for you.

What a great interview with Janet. I appreciate her taking the time and both explaining her process and answering my question's today, which were a little more than usual. She definitely knows her stuff when it comes to helping individuals and couples in the department of trauma and I especially appreciate her connecting the dots with regards to our current pandemic and trauma. Clients are reporting mixed reactions of this current pandemic and everyone is walking through this new normal in different ways but for those with a trauma background this pandemic can take on a whole new meaning and experience. It's always a blessing to have someone with this experience to help individuals and couples travel lighter through the journey of life by giving them a place to talk and unpack today's struggles and pains for a lighter tomorrow as it pertains to this COVID-19 pandemic. What an important resource to have not only everyday but especially during a time of global crisis.

If you feel like Janet will be a good travel companion for your journey. She offers a 15-minute free phone consultation.  During this time she will talk with you about your current stressors, you will get any important questions answered, get a better idea of who she is and how she can help you.  

So, what are you waiting for?  

Schedule a time to speak to her at 772-361-8448 ext. 704 or simply book your consultation online now.

Thanks Janet!

Yvette E. McDonald is the owner and counselor at Traveling Light Counseling, a practice for individuals, couples and families helping them discover the person/couple they were always meant to be, as they become the best version of self in their roles and relationships in the Port Saint Lucie and Martin County area.