Treating Adult Children of Relational Trauma

Psychodrama is one of the most effective treatments of PTSD and developmental trauma that I am familiar with, and Tian Dayton has written a terrific manual to serve as our guide. Psychodrama helps to make our inner world visible and manifest what we struggle with, not so much by words, but by actions, making the invisible observable and measurable. Operating in a space where important people from our past are recreated in the living present, and where we can experience and manifest our confused inner world, we can finally say the words that were never spoken, and allow feelings to emerge that could not be expressed back then. Working with others in three-dimensional space, as psychodrama does, can not only uniquely create a timeless experience where past and present can merge to help us reconfigure our mental alignment, but also provide profound reparative experiences.”

―Bessel van der Kolk, MD, professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, president of the Trauma Research Foundation, and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Body Keeps the Score

“We store the imprint of trauma in our bodies as ‘snapshots’ frozen in the nervous system that tell the story of how the body-mind experienced trauma. Therapists need to understand what the living, sensing body is telling us in order to help clients heal. Tian Dayton’s approach to embodied therapy using psychodrama informed by Somatic Experiencing® allows the body’s unspoken voice to come forward and be heard. In this treatment guide, Tian has provided us with an unparalleled approach for treating relational trauma that confirms what we know to be true: Bringing the body into healing is a crucial component of recovery. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is treating the pain of unhealed attachment wounds.” 

―Peter Levine, PhD, developer of Somatic Experiencing® and best-selling author of Waking the Tiger

Sociometrics Embodied, Experiential Processes for Relational Trauma Repair

“In Sociometrics, Tian Dayton masterfully integrates principles of group dynamics and psychodrama therapies with insights into bodily states and feelings gained from contemporary neuroscience. Sociometrics infuses therapeutic principles in an intuitive and functional program that shifts the agent of healing from the therapist to the group. We learn that through sociometrics, the threads of healing are woven as the client experiences a reconnection with the inner self and a connection with others.” 

Stephen W. Porges, PhD, Distinguished University Scientist,Indiana University; Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina; creator of the Polyvagal Theory

“With her decades of experience, taught by the masters, Tian Dayton has become one herself. In Sociometics, she offers the clinical field another enriching, engaging book that clearly details how to work with the ramifications of trauma and addiction. Her detailed theoretical and practical descriptions of the use of sociometrics and psychodrama empower clinicians in all settings to create a space of safety and choice for the client. I have witnessed her work and seen the movement for those caught in the flight, fight, or freeze mode. Work that sometimes never gets resolved, or takes years, is readily hastened in these action methods.” 

Claudia Black, PhD, Senior Fellow at The Meadows and author Unspoken Legacy: Addressing the Impact of Trauma and Addiction within the Family

Emotional Sobriety: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance

“A holistic approach to healing the mind, body, and spirit–which is the essence of healthy recovery. . . . An essential guide to healing the hole in the soul, the hurt in all of us.”

William Cope Moyers, Author of Broken

Every morning I start my day with Tian Dayton,. She is the muse to everything that is good in our universe. Reading Tian personally helped me find my smile again.” 

Joey Pantoliano, actor in the Sopranos, The Fugitive, New York Times best-selling author of Asylum; Hollywood Tales of My Great

In emotional sobriety, Dr. Tian Dayton, explains in helpful detail, how our hearts, minds, and spirits are  wounded, and what is needed to recover. She describes neuroscience in layman’s terms, so clinicians, recovering people, and families are able to understand how and why our inner selves struggle to find a balance and peace. Her understanding of the connections between mind, body, hard, and spirit are what have been needed in the recovery field. We now have scientific evidence as to why recovery works. Today, neuroscience is proving that the mind, body treatment approaches we have been taking for the last three decades are indeed, evidence based. 

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruz, and author of Another Chance and founder Onsite Workshops.

The ACoA Trauma Syndrome, The Impact of Childhood Pain on Adult Relationships

“For people with addiction or mental illness in their family of origin, this book is an excellent place to start. It integrates scientific research with practical recovery knowledge, offering the reader a complete picture.”

Patrick Carnes, PhD, author of the national best seller Out of the Shadows

“Tian Dayton lays out and insightful, compassionate and expansive view of the lifelong effects of growing up in addicted families. This book is laced with references to science, but more importantly, to her own personal experience, and the experiences of her clients who are on the journey of recovery, healing, and breaking the inter-generational cycles of addiction.”

Robert Anda MD and through the CDC the originator of The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study along with Vincent Feletti of Kaiser Permante

“Tian Dayton’s new book should be required reading for policy and program makers at all levels of government and reading. It will not be a chore. With clarity and insight her beautiful writing captures both the chronic pain of growing up in a highly stressed, dysfunctional family, and the later effects such experiences can have on children, whose submerged feelings may resurface and affect their parenting and interpersonal relationships for generations. These are not headline catching stories of families, torn apart by hurricanes or wars, but the far more pervasive and equally wrenching dramas that play out in the living rooms of families impacted by addiction and dysfunction. Dayton’s important book offers a rare window into the reality of family life for millions of Americans, affected by the programs or lack of programs intended to address these issues. We incur a high cost in dollars and public health by failing to take a comprehensive approach to the healing of such families.”

Alan Levitt, former associate Director of the White House drug policy office and Director of the national youth anti-drug media campaign

The Living Stage: A Step-by-Step Guide to Psychodrama, Sociometry and Experiential Group Therapy

“Moreno never intended for his approach to the field of human interaction to be limited to the clinical setting. It has taken him a lifetime to be accepted, and although he is becoming more recognized as a seminal thinker, and his influence at-large is growing, there are still vast areas of need. The sociologists would say that he “has been absorbed by the culture” but that is only superficially true. Tian Dayton, is helping to correct that and to bring his work to deeper and broader layers of our culture with this penetrating and far-reaching book.” 

From the forward by Zerka. T Moreno wife of JL Moreno.And co-developer of the field of psychodrama and sociometry and group psychotherapy.

Trauma and Addiction: Ending the Cycle of Pain Through Emotional Literacy

“Tian Dayton does a masterful job of weaving, solid scientific findings with her professional and personal experience into a thoughtful analysis of traumatic experience, secrecy and addictive behaviors. Her book should be read by anyone who suffers from an abusive past, or is seeking a way to deal with ongoing trauma, or substance abuse. Dayton is a superb writer, who understands the intricacies of emotional turmoil and the roads to healing.” 

James W Panabaker, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin author of Opening Up: The Healing Power of Confiding in Others.

“This is a serious well thought through and thoroughly documented book. Tian Dayton, is a clinician with a broad view and the book reflects this great sweep in which she is able to place a number of approaches in the context of healing.” 

Zerka. T Moreno and co-developer of the field of psychodrama and sociometry and wife of J L Moreno

“With great skill, insight and compassion, Tian Dayton’s new book builds a much-needed bridge, connecting addictions to trauma theory. It is a major contribution to addiction’s, mental health and psychodrama literature. All helping professionals, especially psychotherapist and addiction’s counselors, will find new ways of thinking and practical approaches valuable to their work.” 

Jane Middleton, author of Children of Trauma and After the Tears.

Adult Children of Alcoholics and Relational Trauma:WORKBOOK

Dr. Tian Dayton picked up where Janet Woititz left off in her seminal book Adult Children of Alcoholics that literally began the ACoA movement.

 In Dayton’s book The ACoA Trauma Syndrome, Dr. Dayton provided a clear understanding of the body of research on trauma that has become so significant since the ACoA movement began. And she made the connection for the reader between the ACoA syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experienced by children who grew up in addicted families long after they have left their families of origin. She answered their haunting question: “Why am I feeling the pain from my childhood now, as an adult, when I am no longer even living at home?” After the success of that book, she has now followed it up with this important and fascinating workbook that is much more than a book, it actually helps you heal. 

The ACoA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) movement of the 1980s made an enormous contribution to our understanding of addiction as a disease that affects the whole family. Tian Dayton wrote The ACoA Trauma Syndrome in 2012 furthering that body of knowledge and deepening our understanding of the family of origin that surrounds addiction, making its treatment relevant once again. 

The Backstory Of Janet Woititz’s Book

We are in the midst of another movement whose time has come, one that has been brought into a new level of intelligence and understanding through the research on neuroscience, attachment, and Adverse Childhood Experiences that has opened the floodgates for millions who experienced the kind of relational trauma in childhood, that’s impacting their physical and/or mental health as adults. More than ever we need to hear the silent scream of the ACOA’s, those who were trapped, through no fault of their own, living within the debilitating effects of the disease of addiction. And their forgotten and silenced inner child, who still shadowboxes with the past, burdening their relationships today with the weight of unresolved pain from yesterday. Tian walks the reader/participant through a process of healing that is life-altering, moving the reader from pain to presence.

Having spent my entire professional life creating platforms for some of the major voices of self-help and recovery, I know just how important, joyful, and life-altering this odyssey is.

Endorsements for Treating Adult Children of Relational Trauma

“Tian Dayton has done the field a tremendous service in making the active, experiential components of psychodrama and sociometry available to the layperson in the form of sociometrics. In my role as chief clinical officer at Phoenix House, she worked with me and several trainers in getting sociometrics to the staff in over 100 treatment programs. The clinical staff consisted primarily of entry-level staff and still they were able to implement the skills of sociometrics in the form of feelings floor checks, timeline work, letter writing, social atoms (on paper), and other activities with fidelity and competence. Importantly, the staff embraced these activities with enthusiasm and excitement. These skills profoundly increased the engagement of the staff and transformed the level of clinical services provided at the treatment programs. I can’t thank Tian enough for having the amazing intellect that was able to transform components of psychodrama and sociometry―skills that take years to learn―into the easy-to-implement sociometrics that get clients out of their seats and into the here and now!”

―Deni Carise, PhD, adjunct clinical professor at the University of Pennsylvania

“Tian Dayton is brilliant, and her work on sociometrics is groundbreaking for addiction and other mental health disciplines due to the nature of incorporating psychodrama and sociometry into treatment. We at NAADAC are so thrilled with this work that we are partnering with Dr. Dayton to create a certificate program in order to advance training and skills for therapists and counselors to help heal their clients. Not only does this work heal the clients, but it is cyclical―it also heals the counselor as they use it! The value and need for adult relational trauma treatment is huge due to the environmental issues we have all been faced with these past years, and as we heal the adult clients, they can heal their children and grandchildren. I am excited to learn and use this model for skill development and, more so, for the generational healing I have been doing in my own family to grow generations of health, recovery, and happy lives!”

―Cynthia Moreno Tuohy, BSW, NCAC II, executive director of NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals

Sociometrics Embodied, Experiential Processes for Relational Trauma Repair

“Having watched Dr. Dayton doing a psychodrama, I am gratified to read this clear explanation of the process and additionally to be exposed to the concepts of sociometrics. This book provides a roadmap for clinicians to approach patients with complex trauma in an evidence-based skill set steeped in solid aspects of neurobiology. Dr. Dayton provides a generous mix of the theoretical and clinically practical for practitioners to utilize in their work.” 

Mel Pohl, MD, Senior Medical Consultant, Pain Recovery Program, The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center and author of A Day without Pain

“Sociometry is a part of J. L. Moreno’s triadic system of psychodrama, sociometry, and group psychotherapy. Dr. Dayton has spent her entire career adapting these methods for practical use in working with addiction and trauma. Sociometrics respect Moreno’s theoretical roots, and in so doing, Dayton’s adaptations have retained the creativity and spontaneity so core to Moreno’s thinking while creating an approach that is tailored for use in treating addiction and trauma.” 

Daniela Simmons, PhD, TEP, President, American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama (ASGPP), Founder & CEO of TELE’DRAMA International

“Sociometrics help us to resolve attachment trauma through an embodied form of therapy that brings our relational deficits from yesterday right into the present so that we can revisit and resolve them in them today. They help clients to become aware of how they are dragging their hurt from the past and recreating it in the present. Sociometrics actually get clients on their feet and engaging with each other in ways that give them new experience and practice at opening up. The process is the very opposite of isolation and withdrawal, rather it’s one that fosters communal containment and connection. For teens and young adults who struggle with addiction, this is game-changing. It helps them to build the skills of emotional literacy so that they can self-reflect and share in meaningful ways with their peers. And these skills of resilience become portable as they take them into the futures they are building as sober and contributing adults.” 

Jamison Monroe, Founder of Newport Academy/Newport Institute

Emotional Sobriety: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance

When primary caregivers consistently allow a child to be overstimulated, or grossly under stimulated, as can be the case in homes were relationship trauma is present, the child may not learn how to develop an affective range. Instead of being able to regulate emotions, these individuals may bounce from one emotional extreme to another. In Emotional Sobriety, Dr. Dayton outlines the neurobiology and neuropsychology of this emotional imbalance, and with compassion and beautiful clarity, outlines the steps one can choose to achieve resilience and healthy, self-soothing. Emotional Sobriety is a beautiful creation from a very beautiful person. 

CC Nuckles, PhD.

“Emotional Sobriety, Recovery from Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance is what we try to teach our clients each and every day in our codependency program at Caron where  Dr. Dayton serves as Director of Program Development and Staff Training. As Bill W said ,it is the ‘next frontier’. We all need to learn how to live with greater maturity and balance. In this book, Tian Dayton, shows us how.”

Doug Tieman, president and CEO. Caron Treatment Centers

“The right book at the right time, the addiction/recovery community is hungry for understanding and healing the chronic rifts and sores from family trauma. Tian Dayton’s latest book, which integrates neurological research, clinical insights, the arts and practical exercises affirms and uplifts whole-family life-long recovery.”

Todd Whitmer, Vice President, Alumni and Development Father Martin’s Ashley

“Tian Dayton, has written a book that not only helps people identify personal patterns of behavior and emotions, and understand their roots, but gives people the tools to begin to deal with life today, in a balanced way. Her straightforward, caring style translates easily to the readers daily lives, including examples that will ring true for many and make sense of memories and behaviors that may have confused people while growing up. Tian helps individuals unlock the mysteries of their past and enables them to understand connections to their current behaviors. It provides the necessary tools to take action toward recovery and wellness. 

Keith Arnold, Executive Director, Sierra Tucson. 

Emotional sobriety will be a valued resource for all who want to have a better understanding of the trauma of addiction, relationships, related stress, effect on families, and the biology that binds these together. It provides insight into the importance of balance in our lives and strategies for healing. A lack of emotional sobriety can lead to self-medication and addiction,  problems that not infrequently destroys the health and well-being of affected youth. Dr. Dayton describes how the skills of emotional regulation are both built and undermined, and offers practical suggestions for getting back on track to a healthy lifestyle, supported by healthy relationships.” 

Hoover Alger, Junior, MD, MPH, MBA, Professor of Pediatrics, Director Adolescent Medicine John Hopkins, Medical Institutions.

“The beauty of Tian Dayton’s work is that she has continued to grow and evolve. Emotional Sobriety is a necessary step if we’re going to get beyond our addiction to drama and our story. Recovery is a pathway to freedom and Tian is a guiding light on that pathway,”

Lee McCormick Founder and Director of the Ranch Recovery Center in Tennessee, program creator for Alta Mira, author Spirit Recovery Meditation Journal

“We are an agency, committed to creating a safe and just society. TASC (treatment alternatives for safe communities), facilitates access to treatment for drug involved, offenders and guides them on the path to recovery. We see thousands of women in men whose adverse childhood experiences have later manifested themselves in substance abuse disorders and entry into the justice system. Emotional Sobriety gives hope that the generational trauma of addiction can be healed, and it offers tools to help individuals and families renew themselves in mind, body, and spirit. This book is a must read for those who want to understand more about emotional development and resilience building.”

Peter Palanca, Vice President TASC, Inc. of Illinois.

“Bill W., cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, took 18 years to realize the importance of our emotions for a total and balanced recovery. In the article “The Next Frontier; Emotional Sobriety”, he wrote that once he addressed this aspect of his life, he was given ‘a quiet place in a bright sunshine’. He had no scientific basis for this. As the founding medical Director at the Betty Ford Center, I thought that our emotions are our sixth sense, and must be given great credence in our decisions. I had no basis for this. Cellular memory studies, and the field of psychoneuroimmunology, are providing the basis for many of our metaphors regarding the heart and emotions. Dr. Dayton has proven once again that she can interpret, apply, and lovingly teach new knowledge to us in an understandable way. These are attributes of the great teacher she is.” 

Joseph Cruise MD Addiction, Allergist and Founding Medical Director, Betty Ford Center, and Onsite Workshops Inc.

The ACoA Trauma Syndrome, The Impact of Childhood Pain on Adult Relationships

“Dayton does it again! Prepare yourself for  a treat; complex, beautifully, composed, easily, digestible, and satisfying. Tian Dayton paints a nuanced, comprehensive picture of the impact of childhood trauma, and the developing brain, the developing child, and the emerging adult, completing this by a comprehensive approach to healing ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically, as individuals, partners, and parents. A must read.”

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, co-author of Healing Trauma Through Self- Parenting and Dancing Backwards in High Heels and founding board member of The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA)

“Once again Tian Dayton has shown us that she has the clearest path forward for survivors of trauma.”

co-author of Healing Trauma Through Self- Parenting and founding board member of The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA)

“Dr. Tian Dayton, hits a home run with her new book, The ACoA Trauma  Syndrome. She clearly, succinctly and powerfully describes the experience of growing up in an addicted family. Tian brilliantly provides a roadmap to healing recovery and resilience. This is a must read.” 

Jerry Moe, MA, National Director of Children’s Programs Betty Ford Center.

“Tian Dayton’s work in The ACoA Trauma Syndrome makes sense of the emotional physical and psychological pain that can result from growing up in a family affected by substance abuse. She gives readers an understanding of seemingly random physiological or emotional responses to life events that continue to occur throughout adulthood, and she offers valuable insights and tips that will allow the reader to start to heal both in mind and body.” 

Deni Carice PhD, chief clinical officer Phoenix House foundation New York

“Dr. DAYTON has done something no one else thought to do: she’s conjured in a mind altering way, the missing piece of the puzzle to wholeness from the ACoA state of being. Her curiosity for cause and  condition is overshadowed only by her ability to store-tell in a delicious, engaging way.” 

Brad Lamm, author of How to Help the One You Love.

Adult Children of Alcoholics and Relational Trauma: WORKBOOK

About Gary’s chance meeting with Janet Woititz!

Over the years of our friendship, I have shared a story with Tian about a chance meeting that became a movement that she has asked me to share as an illustration of how the ACoA movement was an idea whose time had come and how when that’s the case, the universe lends a hand in helping it to take shape. It was spring of 1978 when I met Janet Woititz, waiting at the luggage carousel at Seattle SeaTac airport. My bags didn’t make it; neither did Janet’s. As we stood side-by-side at the baggage service counter, looking over pictures of luggage and trying to identify our own, something else began to take shape that would change my life forever. We realized we were both heading to the same conference downtown: the annual meeting of the National Council on Alcoholism. We decided to share a cab.

Eighteen months earlier, my partner Peter Vegso and I had traveled from Toronto, Canada, to Miami, Florida, with all of our worldly possessions in my VW bug to begin a new life and a new business in a new country. As young publishing/marketing execs, we had both worked for seven years at the world renowned Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario where we established the ARF Journal, the first trade newspaper publication designed for professionals in the field of addiction. Now we were striking out on our own to create the US Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, and Health Communication Inc. (HCI), which at that time boasted three pamphlets. 

My ears perked up when Janet told me about her follow-up research on ACoAs since I well recalled an elderly social worker in Toronto named Margaret Cork who we had witnessed working with a heretofore silent and unacknowledged group, children of alcoholics (COAs). Week upon week, we looked on as a group of young COAs filed past our offices to meet with Margaret Cork who wrote what was the first (OR groundbreaking) book on the subject, The Forgotten Children. Janet was attending the NCA conference in Seattle to look for a publisher. I suggested HCI—and the rest as they say, is (publishing) history. I read her paper and found it captivating—clear and concise and something truly unique. I shared the information with Peter, and both he and I resonated with what we recognized as a landmark work, not only because of our familiarity with Margaret Cork’s study but also because we both identified as adult grandchildren of alcoholics. So, like so many in this field, our professional and personal interests were overlapping. We surmised that the vast majority of people—especially lay readers—had no knowledge of this term. This was a watershed moment; we knew the world needed to hear Janet Woititz’s message, and we were the messengers. 

Adult Children of Alcoholics was published by HCI in the fall of 1979. I typeset the book, and Peter printed the first copies, all 112 pages, on our first tiny press. It took two years before the book made it to the New York Times bestseller list in February 1982. It was number one for fifty-four consecutive weeks. Time magazine called it a “publishing phenomenon.” 

How could a no-name publisher in Florida with no salesforce produce a New York Times bestseller? This is the magic of “word-of-mouth” advertising and a movement whose time has come. ACoA support groups, an outgrowth of Alanon, were forming all over the country, and they, in bookstores, found the book, making it a bible for ACoAs. 

Take this journey with Dr. Dayton—it will change your life. 

Gary Seidler, Co-founder Health Communications Inc and U.S. Journal of Drug & Alcohol Dependence