Trauma therapy is a general term that refers to the treatment of trauma in counseling or therapy. (Note: “Counseling” and “therapy” can be used interchangeably.) It can include various approaches, theoretical frameworks, and techniques. One phase is commonly referred to as safety and stabilization. The another phase is processing of traumatic memory. A third phase often consists of resolution and grief work.
What does trauma therapy look like with Jessica?
My main approach is to be flexible so that I can adjust to the needs of each client. Everyone’s counseling needs are going to be different because we are all different people. Because of this, I do not take just one approach to all of my clients. Instead, I am open to diverse range of approaches. I take the time to get to know what makes up you, your identity, and unique perspectives in order to learn what will work best to help you reach the goals that we identify together. I value your collaboration in counseling greatly. I truly believe that we are in this together- I bring in techniques and therapy skills and you bring in your life experience and knowledge. You’re the expert in your own life because you live it 24/7/365. Together, we can work towards your goals and get there together until the day that you don’t need me anymore. If what may be best for you happens not to be within my realm of expertise, then I am happy to refer you to someone else. I always prioritize you getting what you need and never take it personally if my skill set does not match your needs.
Theoretically, my main conceptual theory is Adlerian if I had to pick one of the main ones. I appreciate that this theory allows for use of techniques from other theories. I value its focus on social connection, equity, and inclusivity of diverse people. The goals of counseling from an Adlerian perspective include encouragement and empowerment of clients to overcome feelings of inferiority (ie: a lack of control, capability, and power), to accept themselves as they are. Adler saw human development as a social emotional experience that comes out of our experiences in childhood which shape us and provide us a blueprint of how the world works. Adler believed that the reason for life for humans was to contribute towards building a better, more equitable and inclusive world. That’s a world I’d love to live in and help work towards by helping you find value in yourself and your abilities, and supporting these things within our larger society. I don’t align with all of the original beliefs of the founder or stick to its approaches strictly, but I figure that since it has been 100 years, some updates are needed and allowed. I am an LGBTQ+ ally and fully encourage clients to come as they are with no apologies or explanations need. The same goes for any religious, political, or any point of view that you hold. I allow influence from other theories when appropriate and desired, such as the Trauma Model Theory, as well as those behind the techniques of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
In terms of techniques, I am not a purist in any sense of the word. I am trained in EMDR for example, but I do not use this technique with every client. I utilize a variety of different techniques based on what is needed and I am willing to learn and research new techniques as needed for each client’s progress. As a yogi and trained yoga instructor, I can integrate mindfulness and physical movement when appropriate with my clients. A huge benefit of mindfulness can be to help us stay present in this moment, instead of being pulled back into the past or thrust into the worries of the future. The movement of yoga (called “asana” in yogic terms) can be helpful to reconnect to your body. Often after a traumatic event, because of the high stress, we can experience a disconnection from the body (ie: dissociation). We will not do what you are imagining in terms of “a full yoga class” in a counseling session, but what we may do is simple, slow, seated yoga asana paired with mindfulness to help enhance that connection of your mind and body that has been affected by traumatic stress. Don’t worry, you won’t be getting sweaty or need work out clothes for our sessions! Another way that I help clients regain control through trauma therapy is learning skills to manage the responses to traumatic stress. I like to utilize Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which is a skills based model that teaches four groups of skills: emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. Both mindfulness/yoga and DBT techniques can assist with the stabilization part of trauma therapy mentioned above. When it comes to the trauma memory processing and grief work phases, because I have basic and advanced trainings in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), I may utilize this technique to help you. However, we may also not use this at all. EMDR is one tool, but there are many other ways to process traumatic memory. I can assess if this is an appropriate intervention for you or not and we will do whatever is most helpful for you to achieve your counseling goals. Other techniques to process traumatic memory may include “talk therapy”, narrative, art, or other techniques.
In terms of the phases of trauma therapy, I do not ascribe to a linear model of treatment and healing. Healing is rarely ever linear where we just continue to get better and better without ever having setbacks. That would be wonderful if it could work that way, but know that it is normal for healing to look more like a lightening bolt, even though that can be frustrating at times. I like that imagery because of the power that lightening exudes as a representation of the empowerment that grows within you throughout the process of trauma therapy. I do not expect or assume that we will spend x amount of weeks on the phase of safety and stabilization and then x amount of weeks on the phase of memory processing. What is more realistic and typical is to jump back and forth between these phases as we work together. That third phase of grief work often is sprinkled throughout as well. I have the patience for this and I hope that you can have that patience with yourself as well. It is normal for us to do some memory processing for a few weeks and then not return to it for a while and work on stabilization in daily life in the meantime. Our brains need time to settle in and readjust with whatever has been processed. Doing processing a little bit at a time and acknowledging that too much of anything is too much are mantras I have when doing trauma therapy.
I hope that this gives you an idea of what to expect when working with me for trauma therapy!