There’s a reason I offer trauma release body work and facilitation, along with life coaching and the two marry together in beautiful unexpected ways.
There are so many wonderful people out there who are struggling because of anxiety/depression/addiction or childhood trauma, who want to create amazing lives, however their chemistry is often working against them.
The answer here is not ‘false positivity’ which is what the personal development industry is often accused of and it’s not ‘rational behavioral therapies’ which miss the ability to enable the rewiring of the body and neural pathways.
Nor, is it going to tonnes of yoga classes, without doing the inner work of linking the emotions, psychology and soul with what is happening in the body and brain.
What I have seen work most effectively (and what I offer my clients) is this:
1. Body work to unlock old trauma – Use of body work to remove the electrical circuitry holding the trauma pathways in place in the brain and body. As well as creating a space from which new neural pathways can be formed, this gives the person a sense of relief and ease being in their own skin (sometimes for the first time).
2. Facilitation for self awareness/understanding – The client begins to understand what has happened to them and makes sense of their experiences instead of feeling paralysed by them.
3. Turning your wounds into wisdom and self value – A compassionate/gentle process where I show my clients how to extract the wisdom from their past. They see what’s right about themselves that was previously obscured by pain/heaviness.
4. Addressing skill/knowledge gaps – Those who grew up in chaotic families always have knowledge gaps and lack certain skills/tools/perspectives to give further context to their experiences and navigate the world differently. This is essential for them to feel safe going forwards and this step is often missed!!
5. We life coach/mentor together to reinforce the learning they have done and support them to reach their goals/start to reach their potential without their old barriers/blocks in place.
Unless you have all of these elements, or a multitude of people who contribute these various elements to someone’s recovery, it often can’t and won’t work.
The popular narrative around depression and anxiety has up until recently been “it’s a chemical imbalance take a pill” or “take a pill and do some behavioral therapy” or even “do both of those things and meditate or do yoga”
There is something being missed here.
People with adult depression or anxiety, suffered childhood trauma and for those who are sensitive, talk therapies will often miss the mark, leaving them stuck, in deep pain and feeling like there is something wrong with them.
Science is now starting to understand is that because of childhood trauma the brain is wired differently.
You can also significantly rewire a traumatized brain if you are willing to do the work and employ the right techniques to do this. Implicit in this is the assumption that your symptoms may also diminish accordingly.
I went through living with undiagnosed trauma for two decades (and seeing several non trauma informed therapists who couldn’t help me) before I discovered that my trauma could be released from my body and brain freeing me up to respond differently to life (and to therapy).
Anxiety and depression are symptoms that you’ve been through tough experiences that you are still carrying, that have become wired into your body.
Far from making you ‘mentally ill’ these symptoms are actually a sign that you are healthy and your system is working as it should be.
As unpleasant as they are, you are experiencing symptoms because you are ready to begin healing and getting free of the physical and emotional legacy of your past. How else would we know we needed to?
Popular societal views at this time are that ‘mental illness’ should be accepted and awareness raised about it. On one hand this is a start and represents some kind of progress.
On the other hand, this is a limitation if people believe that they have a condition which is irrevocable (either random or genetic) and that is bigger then them.
Where we should be coming from, is rather than labelling people as ‘mentally ill’ and promoting acceptance of this, we should be realizing our society is sick and people’s symptoms indicate they’ve been traumatized. Their symptoms don’t indicate they are unwell, but that their system is healthy in a toxic culture.
Where things are headed at the cutting edge of the bell curve (and what I am learning as I get further into my studies as a Compassionate Inquiry therapist) is that (with very few genuine exceptions) there is no mental illness, there is only undiagnosed and unresolved childhood trauma showing up as symptoms in adulthood.
Whatever cluster of symptoms you may be experiencing, they are merely that. They are your body’s way of drawing your attention to past painful experiences that you didn’t know how to handle, that have become wired into your physiology that need attention.
The reason we don’t understand this, is because we live in a society that sanctions trauma, that functions from abuse and worships the superficial and normalizes this.
A child or a baby cannot reason that it’s caregivers aren’t present for it because of their own trauma or challenges, therefore it has to believe that there is something wrong with itself to survive.
That is often why people have a gnarly inner dialogue going on and wonder why they are so negative/mean to themselves in their thoughts. It was a survival strategy they formed a long time ago. This doesn’t serve us as adults, trying to have happy, healthy lives.
My clients are often perplexed about why they have had therapy and been bravely honest and open about their lives/situations/emotions and yet are still locked up inside and their symptoms haven’t really improved. In these instances their therapist may not be trauma informed and with their physiology working against the therapy, it becomes an exercise in disappointment and frustration.
Many people miss the fact that they are traumatized, because a survival strategy in a painful childhood is blocking out the pain to cope. They may just be walking around depressed and anxious and think that they themselves are the issue, or they may remember a parent with addiction, depression or anxiety, so think it was inevitable that they too would become that way.
This is never true by the way. There is no specific gene for depression or for addiction, there is a gene for sensitivity that means, if we got the double whammy of the gene and the troubled family, that can be a devastating combo, by the time we arrive at adulthood.
Trauma is not just the obvious ‘Big T” things such as war and torture. For our healthy early development and subsequent thrival and sense of security in the world, we need strong relational connections with our caregivers.
If this is unavailable for any reason, there is a sense of disconnection that occurs in that child, meaning that they no longer have the resources to be resilient in the face of life challenges. It disturbs trust and causes the child to disconnect from themselves (which is the real essence of trauma and the purpose of therapy – to re-establish this relationship).
This might be considered small t trauma, but wired into us early enough, it affects our neural pathways and future in ways that are devastating. Bullies always pick on the kid at school who doesn’t have a strong relationship with it’s caregivers.
If you want to know whether you experienced trauma as a child or not, ask yourself when painful/challenging things happened to you, who did you tell? If it wasn’t one of your parents, you didn’t have an (emotionally) safe environment growing up and you didn’t have your needs met.
Now that doesn’t mean your parents were at fault or didn’t love you. What it means is that your parents had their own trauma, were preoccupied or stressed and that is unsurprising.
In Western society, things aren’t set up to nurture healthy child development, nor healthy parenting either. In first nations society, every adult in the villiage is a parent to every child and responsibility is shared, so parents aren’t overwhelmed, exhausted and isolated.
Imagine what feelings of secure attachment can be created in that environment, where the parents aren’t survival based and the child doesn’t feel alone and scared as a result.
When we have suffered relational trauma our brain remembers and we often get stuck in flight, fight fawning or a freeze response.
And the thing about that is, we often react to things which trigger an unconscious memory which isn’t logical or which reminds us of something over which we have no control.
We may avoid certain people/situations and need to self isolate. Or, we may lack healthy boundaries and always pick partners who are abusive/unkind/unavailable like our parents were.
Numbness or a freeze response and an inability to feel happy when you would like to or to tell people to stop encroaching on your space, all relate back to childhood dynamics and caregivers who were absent or too needy.
ABOUT THE BARS FOR BEGINNING YOUR TRAUMA RELEASE JOURNEY – HOW I CAN HELP
There is now (finally) a body process available that works heavily in traumatized areas of the brain to create change. This can allow people who would otherwise struggle for the rest of their lives, to change their chemistry in a way that affords them to rewire their physiology and do the hard work of changing themselves and their lives.
We are so lucky to have this process available here in Nelson and on the planet in general. Science has now (finally) been able to validate this process. Read about the work I do with clients here. Read about my first ever Access Bars session here.