I have a rule that I don’t talk about what I do…As soon as someone discovers I’m a therapist the flight is spent on a “family” member who is struggling, and I find myself immersed in a therapeutic session. Heaven forbid that anyone discovers I’m a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist because folks are amazingly transparent and tell their deepest, darkest secrets. So I usually don’t share my CV. However, for some reason my seat mates have been very open and have spoken about themselves, their families and friends that they are so very concerned about.
What rings true is the amount of pain and trauma that people are experiencing regardless of First class, Business or Economy; regardless of city, state or country, ethnicity or religion; life experiences are Universal.
There have been several experiences of my seat mate sharing about a dear friend or family member who was struggling with substance abuse and relationship issues and they were so clear that their friend was a really good person and had terrible abuse or painful episodes in their lives. When I was able to explain the power of trauma and PTSD in causing chronic relapse these folks were surprised AND grateful.
I love clinicians and folks who work in our field. When I speak I always ask , “How many of you work with trauma?” Most people raise their hand and I feel so good that our industry has acknowledged the importance of trauma treatment.
The second question I ask is, ” How many of you are trained In trauma treatment?” And most folks raise their hands and share that they have been trained in EMDR, DBT, CBT or another powerful modality. So I ask, how many of you understand sex addiction, eating disorders, self-harm because all of those diagnosis are created by trauma. I challenge clinicians to fill their tool box with Somatic Experience, Psychodrama, hypnosis and a multitude of other experiential and body centered modalities as well as in depth understanding of Process addictions.
If you are working with trauma you must understand sex addiction, relationship addictions, eating disorders and self-harm. Sexual, emotional and physical abuse are at the core of those diagnosis.
Finally the last question I ask is how many of you have done your own work? Most raise their hand, and I challenge that. My presentations are visceral, sensory and cellular just as trauma is….after those presentations it becomes very clear that many folks in the audience need more and deeper personal work.
I believe we have an ethical responsibility to do our own trauma work, that we must be willing to go to those places that we lead our clients into. Many clinicians come to The Refuge to do trauma work because although they may be sober a long time, they have become emotionally vulnerable and often have suicidal ideation or are in the shadow of burn out.
It is the greatest gift that you can give yourself and your clients, as well as your family.
I was recently in Searcy, Arkansas training the very talented clinical staff of Capstone, an exceptional male adolescent treatment program. When we train therapist in our model of Trauma treatment every participant becomes a client initially, sharing their life experiences and completing all of the exercises, experientials and process groups that we expect of our clients.
I just returned from London where there were clinicians from all over the world who are ready to do their trauma training knowing that they must heal themselves. And finally we have trained in CapeTown. The common denominator is that as a result of training, clinicians immediately do treatment in an intense experiential and more powerful way and they Heal. It doesn’t matter what history each country has there is commonality of trauma issues throughout this very big and amazing world.
What becomes very clear is the level of pain created by unhealthy or non-existent attachment, abandonment and neglect and abuse of any type. The messages that those “little t” traumas create driving the voices in our head that repeat, “I’m not good enough” or “it is my fault” or “I will always fail” or “I deserve to be abused”.
Every therapist completes a trauma egg which identify the layers and patterns of trauma and negative life experiences. There is power for therapists to share in a safe setting with other therapists, often we are intervening or identifying secondary trauma which is sitting on our hearts.
Abandonment & neglect
Abuse of every kind
Mental illness in the family
Death of family members
Substance abuse in the family
The list is long and has different effects on everyone. I am always so proud and excited for everyone who works toward trauma resolution because life changes. There can be extraordinary freedom for individuals and families, our lives begin to make sense and our choices change, life can become juicier.
I shout from the rooftops: IF YOU WORK IN THIS INDUSTRY OR ARE A FIRST RESPONDER, ER DOCTOR OR NURSE, IF YOU ARE A POLICE OFFICER…. please tell your story to a qualified trauma therapist and find resolution because every day that you continue in your career you are adding multiple new layers of trauma and your Soul needs healing!