Labeling people by color is outdated, and it perpetuates racism. We need new language if we’re going to make real progress.

Using color to categorize individuals is a construct that was developed in the 17th century by European colonizers. At the time, African inhabitants were being traded as slaves; after Spanish “conquistadores” took most of America on behalf of the Spanish kingdom, categories emerged: ‘colonizer, slave, and colonized.’ These categories became ‘white, black and brown.’. The media of the time spread the concept, laying the groundwork for where we are today: whiteness was born as a race of the powerful, — a race that dominated, denigrated, and stigmatized people that were tyrannized and subjugated against their will.

Colors are not races…

All the different ways clients use the word trauma when looking for help.

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, BCN, CCTP-II

Patricia Beeck

We know more and more about emotional wounds every day. There are amazing advocates and researchers coming up with new findings on how we get emotionally injured and traumatized. At this point, the significance of trauma among mental disorders is undeniable, but there is still a long way until we fully comprehend all its ramifications and consequences.

Let’s start by differentiating the several ways the word trauma is used and why it’s important to differentiate them. The word trauma is used in many publications to define:

  • emotional distress
  • an event
  • an experience
  • a reaction
  • a…

We are talking about trauma all wrong

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, CCTP-II, BCN

Image created by author

If I were to tell you I’m going to talk about “my trauma(s),” what would you imagine? I bet it’d be something like- a narcissistic mother, an alcoholic father, or a history of sexual abuse. Some concepts or images from your own life would come to your mind, and I would probably catch your attention.

But what If I were to tell you I’m going to talk about “trauma.” What do you imagine? Take a few seconds and allow your mind to figure out what you think I am referring to. …

A step by step description of the “Window of Tolerance” as an emotional regulation tool.

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, CCTP-II, BCN

Peter had a rough childhood dealing with an aggressive father and a submissive victimized mother. He internalized the father’s aggressive ways and mother’s low self-value; he performed to the best of his abilities the role of the mother’s protector, the father’s controller, and the responsible only child. Those circumstances dysregulated his nervous system in an unceasing way, a characteristic that led him to developing complex trauma.

As an adult, he became an aggressive man with low self-esteem that had no idea how to control his emotions, which shifted from anger to desolation, from despise to…

Even when it could be a symptom, it could also become a skill

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, CCTP-II, BCN

The same way that newspapers, media, and the entertainment industries exploit “bad news” or expose the worst of people and society, so too does the medical model of psychology focus on the negative and pathological characteristics of human experiences. When it comes to dissociation, this kind of pathologizing may seem harmless, but the number of individuals diagnosed with a dissociative disorder is increasing exponentially. Believing that you have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) can be very damaging to a person that is looking for help and is already stressed trying to find a sense of self…

Healing from traumatization is possible and here is why

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, CCTP-II, BCN

Trauma Therapy and the Brain

It seems ironic that after Freud, as a neurologist, abandoned his studies on brain functioning to replace them with the studies of the unconscious — and that he actually abandoned his studies on traumatization — the trauma therapy world is arriving at a point comparable to the point where he started: the understanding of the brain as the basis of understanding the mind.

Trauma therapy is leveraging neuroscience because having an understanding of how traumatization affects the brain helps to not only dismantle common misconceptions and to stop victim-blaming statements, but it also explains many…

Less Talking and More Doing

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, CCTP-II, BCN

Freud called psychoanalysis the third impossible profession (the other two being education and government). It may be as valid to say that psychotherapy is another impossible profession. Many therapists desire to master several of the countless therapeutic modalities available today in their endless pursuit to feel more adept at offering hope, especially to the large number of individuals looking to alleviate the despair rooted in the experience of traumatization. Trauma therapy requires mastering several modalities and unlearning most of what therapy was before. …

From healthy to unhealthy ways to distinguish mental dissociation

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, CCTP-II, BCN

Photo by Jos Diaz-Contreras

Just last month alone I received requests for therapy from four people who came with the diagnosis of DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). “Who gave you the diagnosis?” I asked. “The internet,” three of them responded; the fourth person said that her previous therapist had told her.

A few years back, nobody talked openly about being in therapy, while today, the stigma of being in therapy has shifted, and being in therapy is not equated with insanity; it has stopped being a tool for shaming. …

How Resentment May Stop Trauma But Propel Alienation and Violence

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, CCTP-II, BCN

Photo by Abishek on Unsplash

The more I know about the human psyche and its neurobiology, the more interested I am in emotions. They are the commanders of our actions as well as the cause behind mental issues. Resentment is especially intriguing because of its secretive quality, its connection to violent acts and trauma, and its large role in interpersonal relationships.

The byproducts of resentment are numerous: desire for revenge, punishment, frustration, alienation, outrage, fury, wrath, hostility, ferocity, bitterness, hate, loathing, scorn, spite, vengefulness, and dislike. That’s not an insignificant list. …

Carrying labels imposed by the dominant groups has a negative impact on mental health.

Antonieta Contreras, LCSW-R, CCTP-II, BCN


I was waiting for the subway with a colleague after a meeting where we were discussing how to attract more diverse faculty members into the Trauma Studies Program curriculum that I chair. My colleague is a progressive social worker that has been promoting anti-racist conversations for many years. As we were talking she used the term “people of color” to refer to me, consciously or unconsciously, seeing me as “other.” Because of her characteristics, I felt free to make the comment that I didn’t like the term because instead of inclusive, it sounded really divisive…

Antonieta Contreras

Antonieta is a psychotherapist certified in Trauma Studies, Human sexuality, Neurofeedback, Contemplative psych… She is passionate about facilitating healing.

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