I’m done being silent on this issue. For years I’ve been scolded and threatened for daring to speak about healing trauma when I’m not a “licensed” specialist in this arena.
These scoldings have happened in person (when I had a private practice and began talking about what some of my clients were experiencing in session), as well as online; including recently, when I talked about why I ended the Kinetix Practitioner program early.
My own traumas were profound, disturbing and deeply ingrained in my psyche and my body. I believe I’m qualified to talk about healing trauma because I healed my own, without the assistance of someone “licensed” to do so by the state.
In fact, every therapist I went to for help to heal my trauma not only did not help me to the degree I needed in order to heal, they further ingrained my trauma patterns – making it even harder the next time I sat in someone’s office to trust that healing was possible with professional help.
The problem was this: I knew that I had a LOT of trauma to heal. I knew it would be potentially loud and messy, and if I lifted the lid I felt certain a flood would pour out that I couldn’t stop. None of this scared me, but I believed the false story I’d heard when I first realized I was traumatized: you should never attempt to heal trauma on your own. You need a qualified, trained and licensed professional to help you.
I believed this lie, and went door to door asking therapists to help me heal as quickly as possible (because I had a life to live) and I kept getting told: “Whoa. You can’t heal trauma quickly. We have to be very careful here, and do this slowly and strategically.”
This is the dominant narrative – still today – about healing trauma: it must be done strategically, slowly, and ONLY with qualified licensed professionals who have the proper training.
I opened the lid on my feelings while living in a house with two close friends who were 100% there for me through the process: they hugged me when I needed hugging; left me alone when I needed to be alone; they listened when I needed to talk; they held me as I cried; they witnessed my emotions and sensations and flailings (my body did some strange things while healing) without judgment, and with deep love. They trusted me. I trusted them. My stories and emotions didn’t freak them out, and in knowing that, I could finally let go of the burdens I’d been carrying.
And I gave those same things to myself: compassion, love, space, non-judgment of all emotions and feelings; I trusted myself and my body and I witnessed myself as a loving friend might, as both adult and child began to exist in me simultaneously.
Previously, I felt that every therapist I went to was freaked out by my story, and further alarmed by the intensity of my arising emotions. Because when my emotions got big, they tried to “calm me down” or interrupt my experience in order to “regulate my nervous system.”
But in my opinion this was the last thing that I needed, and those actions by “professionals” who were supposed to know better than me only served to further reinforce in me this belief that my emotions were in fact terrifying, the bigness of them was definitely “wrong,” and I must be defective if my natural impulses are to be feared like this.
I do not believe the “events” themselves create trauma (whether abuse, assault, sexual or emotional acts of violence). I believe trauma happens immediately after, when we have no one to process those events with who will not judge us and simply be there for us. And if we attempt to share the story of the event itself, and are met with fear, judgment, shame, blame or anything less than acceptance and love, we begin to believe we’re defective and we are the source of our own pain.
And this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: we may keep trying to seek help from people who cannot meet us, who cannot hold space, who fear our feelings or the bigness of them, and in experiencing this over and over…we further ingrain the pattern, and the trauma.
People who have faced their own pain are not afraid of other people’s pain. But people who have not faced their own pain, or who claim to have none to face, will likely be terrified by my pain if it is intense, loud and unpredictable.
If you – as a therapist – are attached to my pace, whether you want me to slow down or speed up, then I won’t feel safe or met by you as I’m going through the healing process.
If you consider these two criteria, then perhaps you’ll agree with me that pieces of paper and trainings and “qualifications” don’t have anything to do with being able to help someone heal. You could enroll a friend, family member, partner or community. Or you could be these two characteristics for yourself, and self-heal.
Many people will say that my position here is dangerous and reckless. They’re entitled to their opinion.
But beyond this, to perpetuate the narrative that ONLY qualified and highly trained people can help you heal trauma is, I believe, equally reckless and philosophically unsound. We’ve somehow lost sight of the healing powers of friendship and family that is there for us, and we’ve outsourced authority to people with pieces of paper who may not even help us, and worse – could further traumatize us.
I know my experience isn’t everyone’s, and I do believe there are wonderful therapists out there doing good work. But I believe they are rare. Or at least, I believe it is the rare therapist who has met their own pain to the degree necessary to be with people like me, who have undergone shocking traumatic experiences. Perhaps, for milder cases of trauma, there are more therapists who are able to meet the needs of those clients and patients.
* Disclaimer: The contents of this blog and accompanying YouTube channel are for informational purposes only and do not render medical or psychological advice, opinion, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided through this website is expressly the opinions of each author and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. This is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical or psychological problem, you should consult your appropriate health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Links on this website are provided only as an informational resource, and it should not be implied that we recommend, endorse or approve of any of the content at the linked sites, nor are we responsible for their availability, accuracy or content.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.