Teen Coping with Trauma
"When I got the call, I didn't realize how bad the accident was. When I got to the hospital and got to Jakob, there was a girl in there. She was screaming. Then when I saw Jakob, he had his hands over his ears. He said, â€˜Mom, I can't hear people dying anymore,'" Jenny recounts. "That's when it hit me how bad it was."
"What bothers me is [my children] saw people they were talking to, and in Heather's case, her age. Here one minute, and passed away the next with horrific physical injuries," Travis says somberly. "For Jakob, in particular, he's only 13. Life and death has only been a video game to him. He keeps thinking, â€˜What if my dad died? What if, what if, what if?' I know Jakob is suffering. He wakes up at night, and he vomits. He will be fine, laughing, and the next minute, he starts crying."
[AD]"I just worry about what he saw and how it will affect him for the rest of his life," says Jenny. "It just makes me sad that he won't be the same."
Dr. Phil addresses Travis and Jenny. "I want you guys to know that when something like this does happen, [you wonder] will you ever be yourself again? You will be a new version of you. It can be a better version, it can be a wiser version, it can be a stronger version. It doesn't have to be an emotionally crippled version," he says. "This is not something that is going to haunt you for the rest of your life."
Dr. Laura Trask is a certified equine therapist. She uses equine assisted psychotherapy, " horses that help patients cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. She and her team meet with Jakob to help him find a way to connect with his emotions.
"We were watching the race, and we were having a good time. One truck finally came by, and it was trying to do a pass, and it jumped into the crowd. I saw it coming, and I started screaming. I just got smacked, and I heard all the screaming and noises of dirt in my ears. I finally got up, and I turned around, and there were bodies all over the place. The first thing that came to my mind was my father. I ran in one direction, and I finally found him," Jakob says, his voice breaking. He pauses to wipe away tears. "He was underneath the truck, and his eyes were closed, and I thought he was dead."
[AD]"I'm proud of you, Jacob," says Dr. Trask. "It takes a lot to go through something like that."
When the videotape ends, Dr. Phil turns to Jenny. "What was your reaction to that?" he asks.
"It was good to see him talk about it. Since he's been home, he has seemed better," she replies. "That night he said, â€˜Something just lifted off of me, and I feel better.'"
Dr. Phil welcomes Dr. Trask to the show. "Great work, by the way," he praises her. "I love this whole concept. Talk about what's going on and why it's important to have the animals involved."
[AD]"Actually, the horse represents two things: It represents a challenge for [Jakob], so that he can accomplish these challenges and these tasks, and then build self-confidence and become more in tune to his own abilities, to overcome things, and to give him this confidence in the future," she replies.
"You put him in that situation, and he stepped up, and he did it in a major way," Dr. Phil observes. He turns to Travis. "You've got to feel good about that."
"I'm very, very thankful for everything Dr. Laura has done for Jakob, and her whole team. He was truly a different boy when he came home that day," Travis marvels.
Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Frank Lawlis, chairman of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board. A prolific author, Dr. Lawlis' latest offering is The PTSD Breakthrough:The Revolutionary Science-Based Compass Reset Program. He has been working backstage with Jakob on desensitization techniques.
Dr. Phil clarifies, "Sometimes your brain is caught into a pattern, and what you're using is a device that forces it back to a rhythm that was there before the event took place."
[AD]He turns to Jakob. "Do you feel any different, as yet?" he asks.
"I kind of do," the teen replies with a shy smile. "In a way, I do."
Dr. Phil says that a major breakthrough will take time, and he advises Jakob to be patient with himself.