Trauma-informed Psychotherapy

Healing Developmental Trauma for a better Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship

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We are all wired for connection.

No matter how severely damaged we are,

there is a spontaneous movement in all of us

toward connection, health, and aliveness.

On the deepest level,

just as a plant spontaneously moves toward sunlight,

there is in each of us a natural impulse

moving toward becoming whole and connected again.

(Laurence Heller)

 

Why does Psychotherapy so often not bring the desired results?

In most cases, conventional (talking) psychotherapy isn’t well able to facilitate the healing that we desire. Willpower or rational (cognitive) knowledge of our issues alone are hardly ever sufficient for personal or spiritual growth. Neither are therapies that focus on behavioural changes.   

 

How to make successful shifts in therapy? 

To effectively shift into a new, more healthy way of creating our life’s reality, its helpful to learn how to 

  • explore our feelings, needs and sensations with great openness, awareness and curiosity

  • develop a “felt sense”, a feeling of what’s going on in the body right now

  • get to understand all parts of ourselves with acceptance, compassion and love

  • explore all our parts, no matter how wounded or destructive, with courage, curiosity and compassion

  • develop strong Self-agency (adult consciousness) as the "motor" of self-healing and personal growth

  • safely and gently access our core wounds from an adult Self that is disidentified from past woundings or trauma responses

  • deal with our emotions in a self-supporting way

  • acknowledge our needs

  • recognize our anger and aggression as a life-affirming force

  • come home to our body: accept and trust our body, and understand it’s important messages for us

  • trust in connections and allow vulnerability as well as true intimacy 

  • create / maintain safe attachment bonds that we as human beings are all wired for

  • disidentification and opening up to different possibilities (“Who am I really?”)

 

How a usual session works

All therapy sessions work differently, according to your individual needs. Anyway, a usual session could look like this: At the beginning of the meeting, we take a moment to relax into the Here & Now and feel into the body. From there, the client will be invited to share their intention for healing and what they would like to create for themselves. Then, we can explore together what’s in the way. What makes trauma therapy unique: While reflecting on internal obstacles, we’re not only talking through the issues, but staying connected to what’s happening in the body, in the emotions and in the relationship to oneself and to others. We’re tracking connection and disconnection, so that an open, compassionate and loving Self can grow over time. With looking at the psychodynamic as well as body, the nervous system, the emotions and relations, trauma can heal and with this, self-regulation, self-image and the capacity for healthy relationship.

 

Somatic Work and the “Felt Sense”

As disconnection from the body, physical sensations or emotions can be a typical symptom of trauma, we sometimes spend time with exploring the internal parts that are numbing these feelings. Otherwise you’ll usually go on with defining your intention, your preferred outcome of our time together. What benefits would you like to get out of your therapy session? From this “contract”, we start to explore together what internal obstacles are in the way. Whether we explore freely (using NARM®) or we use parts-language (of IFS® - Internal Family Systems Therapy), we want go slow for you to be able to notice the physical sensations (“felt sense”) and physical shifts (“body shifts”) connected to what you’re just exploring. This way, embodiment can grow. Usually we spend a good amount of time with the body through body awareness, conscious breathing, maybe at times mindful movement or attuned touch. Often, the biggest shifts happen in the body. When your “felt sense” of a situation changes, you change – and so does your life. 

 

Self-Energy meets Protective and Vulnerable Parts (IFS®)

In session we will look to allow all emotions and strengthen your Self-energy. We want your adult consciousness to meet all internal parts of yourself that are relevant for your intention. We want to get to know the parts better, give them an opportunity to speak, while we listen to their story and what they want for you. All parts, even the most destructive ones, have a positive intention for you. They want to protect other vulnerable parts. We give them space to share their story, and listen to them with openness, curiosity and compassion. We ask them e.g. how old they are, at what point in your life they took over their protective role, how old they think you are now, and what they are afraid would happen if they were not working so hard to protect you. Just through listening to the parts, they often soften significantly. 

 

Inner Child Healing

Often these protective parts lead us to vulnerable “exiles”, traumatized inner child parts. Once the protectors give space for us to meet the exiles, we can rescue and “unburden” them – important work to heal the inner child.

 

Modalities used in session

I’m flexibly using these different approaches to psychotherapy and trauma healing that work so incredibly well together:

 

NARM® - The Neuro Affective Relational Model

NARM is a cutting-edge model for addressing attachment, relational and developmental trauma, by working with the attachment patterns that cause life-long psychobiological symptoms and interpersonal difficulties. These early, unconscious patterns of disconnection deeply affect our identity, emotions, physiology, behaviour and relationships. Learning how to work simultaneously with these diverse elements is a radical shift that has profound clinical implications for healing complex trauma. As such, NARM has become an invaluable treatment option for the Trauma-Informed Care movement as we gain a greater understanding of the nature of adverse childhood experience (ACEs).

 

IFS® - Internal Family Systems Therapy

Internal Family Systems is a powerfully transformative, evidence-based model of psychotherapy. We believe the mind is naturally multiple and that is a good thing.  Our inner parts contain valuable qualities and our core Self knows how to heal, allowing us to become integrated and whole. In IFS all parts are welcome. IFS is a movement. A new, empowering paradigm for understanding and harmonizing the mind and, thereby, larger human systems. One that can help people heal and helps the world become a more compassionate place.

 

TRE® - Tension, Stress & Trauma Releasing Exercises

Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (or TRE®) is a simple yet innovative series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. TRE safely activates a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance. 

(for further information click here)

 

Did you know?

  • Childhood or developmental trauma (C-PTSD) is pandemic in our modern societies. More than 60% of adults suffer from the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) like e.g. violence, abuse, abandonment, neglect or others that can undermine the child’s sense of safety, stability and bonding. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance abuse problems in adulthood, and can also negatively impact education, job opportunities and earning potential.

  • To heal the complex effects of childhood / developmental trauma you need special trauma therapy approaches that are designed for healing Complex PTSD. From the perspective of developmental trauma, looking at the conventional clinical diagnosis, like e.g. depression, OCD, narcissism, bipolarity or eating disorders, their dynamics can be understood in a new way, a way that supports the healing much better than the conventional (talking only) psychotherapy or psychiatric treatments with chemicals.

  • Trauma plays out in the body, the nervous system, emotions and in the way we create relations. These aspects have to be part of any effective approach to trauma healing.

 

Benefits

  • Holistic approach to healing and personal growth that integrates body, mind, spirit, emotions and relations

  • Relatively quick recovery from the negative effects of early childhood trauma

  • Transition from surviving to thriving

  • With recovering from your own trauma history you won’t unconsciously pass it on to your children as legacy burdens