Speaker • Trainer • Consultant


The impact of the contentious and fear-based presidential election

The Clinician’s Corner is not a political platform, yet its focus is on educating about the impact and healing from all forms of trauma.

It is approximately 30 days since we heard the results of the most contentious and fear-based presidential election of our time, but due to the appointment of racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and white nationalist cabinet members, traumatic response remains high.

Some are calling this Post Election Stress Disorder (PESD).



PESD is not in the DSM V, but Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) is. I have been experiencing symptoms of ASD and if these symptoms continue, I am a candidate for the PTSD diagnosis.

The symptoms/criteria for ASD can be found at:


As you already know, the symptoms include sleep disturbance, negative mood, intrusive and recurring memories, dissociative experiences and avoidance behaviors, etc.

The DSMV does not include presidential elections in its list of traumatic events/cause of psychological trauma, but it should include this election. Why?

As the Sidran Foundation describes it:

Psychological trauma is the unique individual experience of an event or enduring conditions, in which:

The individual’s ability to integrate his/her emotional experience is overwhelmed, or The individual experiences (subjectively) a threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity. (Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995, p. 60)

Thus, a traumatic event or situation creates psychological trauma when it overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope, and leaves that person fearing death, annihilation, mutilation, or psychosis. The individual may feel emotionally, cognitively, and physically overwhelmed. The circumstances of the event commonly include abuse of power, betrayal of trust, entrapment, helplessness, pain, confusion, and/or loss.

Sound familiar?

What about our role demand to hold not only our traumatic reaction but our clients’ as well? if that is not a recipe for compassion fatigue…

It is also imperative to acknowledge the fundamental values of our profession are being challenged. This is quite scary and destabilizing.

The above is the definition and description of the negative impact we as professionals, much of our country, and the world has experienced in the last month.

Now for the solution: (just Adena’s top 5)

1. Being a trained social worker, my commitment to community and political action on behalf of social justice has been fiercely ignited. I do not expect the fire to go out any time soon. Taking positive action goes a long way in regaining the experience/feeling of empowerment. I/we are not helpless.

2. Asking for and getting support regulates our nervous systems. I am calling for a “huge” regulation of our collective nervous systems. Do whatever it takes to calm (in a healthy way) and stay present during this time. Be with others who breathe slowly and deeply. Be with others who are in the solution, not the problem. By being present, we respond not react.

3. Laugh and have fun. There is nothing like a good laugh to get you back in the present moment and provide the energy for the hard work ahead.

4. Spend time with those you love and let them know you love and care about them. The solution is about love, not hate and fear. The more we can embody this love, the more people we reach.

5.  This is the time for impeccable and meticulous self care. Nourish our bodies with healthy food, rest as much as possible, etc. Walk our talk. Do what we suggest to our clients regarding their traumatic experiences.

There are many more suggestions and ideas. Feel free to add to this list for yourself.

If you are interested in continuing your self care with support from colleagues, please contact me.  Cindy Johnson LMSW and I would like to offer a Skype and/or face-to-face, short term ongoing group process to lessen compassion fatigue and not reach the point of a PTSD diagnosis!

We will need a minimum of 7 participants and a maximum of 10 for a group. More info to follow if we have the interest.

Here are some articles that may be of service for you and your clients at this time:


Richard A. Bryant, Ph.D.,  Matthew J. Friedman, M.D., David Spiegel, M.D., Robert Ursano, M.D., and James Strain, M.D.



The Psychology Behind Donald Trump's Unwavering Support

Research explains why Donald Trump maintains support despite shocking behavior.

Bobby Azarin Ph.D.


America’s Therapists Are Worried About Trump’s Effect On Your Mental Health

His candidacy is sowing fear, distress and anger across the country, they say. Here’s what one psychologist is doing to try to stop it.


Trump’s win is causing a surge in demand for mental health services


Kids’ post-election fears spur trauma counseling in schools this week



Cultural Competency/Diversity and Ethics in Action
Presented by Adena Bank Lees, LCSW, LISAC, BCETS, CP and Dr. Marlo Archer, TEP

Sunday, January 15, 2017
Family Strategies
1745 S Alma School Rd #230
Mesa, AZ 85210

Sunday, January 29, 2017 Tucson, AZ
Caritas Healing Center
330 E 16th Street
Tucson, AZ 85701

Early Bird $109 until a month before, Advance $139 until two weeks before, then $160
Adena will be speaking about Covert Emotional Incest, her upcoming book and related topics on the following podcasts:

Podcasts of Interest

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Guy MacPherson PhD of The Trauma Therapist Project

Friday, January 27, 2017
Laura Reagan, LCSW-C
Therapy Chat Podcast

Look for more interviews with Boom Goddess Radio in March and a big book launch interview with Rachel Grant, MA  mid-June!

Save the Date

“The Child as Substitute Spouse: Naming and Validating Emotional Incest” Presented by Adena Bank Lees, LCSW, LISAC, BCETS, CP
At the 75th Annual ASGPP 2017 Conference: “Navigating Waves of Change: Discovering and Celebrating Our Hidden Treasures.”
May 4-7, 2017 Clearwater, Florida

Ponder This

No one knows what’s next, but everybody does it. - George Carlin

There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made. - Michelle Obama

Adena’s Blog Posts