WAYS TO HEAL TRAUMA
MEDICATION, NUTRIENTS & ACUPUNCTURE
My current work builds upon eight years of experience working in a integrative medical practice, and this includes training in nutritional medicine and acupuncture, as well as mainstream medicine.
I usually advise clients to have another GP for general medical issues, and to be open yet discerning about natural approaches and Eastern medicine. However on certain occasions I will initiate medications or nutrient prescriptions, or provide brief acupuncture treatments interwoven with trauma therapy. For example, some people with flashbacks and severe agitation at night benefit greatly from a blood pressure medication called prazocin, while those struggling with alcohol addiction can really benefit from the muscle relaxant baclofen. Others meanwhile may benefit greatly from nutrients such as zinc or specific B vitamins. Sometimes dizziness, nausea or physical pains come up during trauma reprocessing, and in many instances these symptoms can be improved by gently needling specific acupuncture points. I have done training with the Australian Medical Acupuncture College in 2014.
WORKING WITH SPIRITUAL NEEDS
For many people with journey to resolving their past traumas is deeply intertwined with their journey towards finding and expressing their deepest spiritual needs. This is something I openly invite clients to discuss and share, as it can be a powerful healing resource.
I am passionate about defining spirituality as the practical discovery of who we are at the deepest level, which may or may not rely on a particular tradition, teacher or practice. As we embark on the journey to heal trauma, our spirituality can often help us find meaning, hope and trust in something greater than our individual sense of self. The particular tradition which inspires my own work is a Tibetan lineage known as 'Kalachakra' or 'Wheel of Time' - a framework which embraces the scientific vision of a connected and evolving universe, the inner calling to cultivate love and compassion, and the deep inner knowing of an enlightened reality which connects us to everyone and everything - which we can begin to taste as our breathing (or 'subtle energy') dissolves into our central channel. This is said to be the most comprehensive, clear and profound expression of Tibet's spiritual legacy, and one of my goals is to create a 'bridge' to enable people from our culture to access and realize these precious teachings.
I have written a short book, The Heart Of The World, which delves into the question of how we can bring together faith and reason, science, philosophy and spirituality.
I have also discovered that many principles in modern psychological therapies are embedded in traditional spiritual practices. For example, cognitive therapy questions our automatic thoughts to arrive at a more realistic understanding of reality, in the same way that the contemplative traditions deeply question how we perceive reality. Many modern-day therapies speak of body awareness and releasing 'stuck emotions', in the same way that some meditation practices speak of 'dissolving knots' around energy centers or allowing energy currents to flow more freely through our body.
While the meditation tradition points us to a reality beyond our personal sense of self, the Western psychological tradition helps us work skillfully with thoughts, emotions and traumatic memories, including what we may disown or repress, to create a more stable, connected and integrated sense of self. And so I believe these traditions complement each other perfectly and together provide a complete understanding who we are as human beings and how we can heal. I plan to delve into the link between psychology and spirituality in a group Zoom program which is now under creation - H.O.P.E. Awareness Coaching.
I am open to working with anyone who is called to bring their spirituality into their healing journey, wherever they may be coming from.
Just as there are many different medicines for different types of illness, just so are there many different methods for healing trauma, which suit different people and different situations.
As a Medical Practitioner, I have had the good fortune to have received training in FPS - Focused Psychological Strategies. This opened up my practice to a level of greater depth and connection, as I was able to offer my regular patients longer sessions using hypnotherapy, cognitive therapy and mindfulness. Then in 2016 I embarked on training in EMDR Therapy - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing - and for the first time I started to see real lasting changes in my patients - less triggered, better relationships, better sleep, fewer bouts of anxiety. Simply put, EMDR uses eye movements or tapping from side to side to activate and facilitate the mind's natural healing processes. The emotional wound, embedded as an 'energy block' in the body, is allowed to unravel and release as the system comes back into balance. Please also take time to view this inspiring Ted Talk, 'Eye Movement May Be Able To Heal Our Traumas'.
After several years of practicing EMDR, I was humbled to realize that this method wasn't for everyone and to be truly effective I needed to integrate various approaches. This spurred me to delve deeper into other approaches to Trauma Healing. I discovered the work of the Blue Knot Foundation - the National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma. Their guidelines speak of a three phased approach: phase I is Stabilization, phase 2 is Trauma Processing and Phase 3 is Integration. They also highlight the limitation of cognitive or 'talking' approaches, which isn't really attuned to right-brain function where much of trauma is stored as 'implicit memory'. This opened me up to other methods such as somatic and internal family work, which offer incredibly useful tools to heal dissociation - when we lose awareness of our physical bodies or even feel like we are switching to a different personality.
I have leant through experience that trauma often begins as an infant or even in the womb, so have been inspired by the work of Dr Sandra Paulsen on Healing Early Attachment Trauma. I have also embarked on training in IFS - Internal Family Systems Therapy - which teaches us to get to know our internal 'parts' from an open place of compassion and curiosity, so we are able to witness the healing of our wounds - those parts of us who have been shielded from our conscious awareness as the pain they carry is simply too overwhelming. Especially for those who suffer from depression, I've been inspired by a new version of cognitive therapy - TEAM - CBT - which skillfully teaches us to befriend our resistances before challenging our distorted thinking patterns.
Furthermore, I have been influenced by a new development in the field of Trauma known as the Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM), which helps us develop a powerful sequence of inner resources so we can feel stable, embodied and grounded as we enter the phase of trauma reprocessing and healing. Extending beyond the realm of individual trauma healing, I keenly follow the insights of Thomas Hubl on Healing Collective Trauma.
My work is not just informed by guidelines and research - but also personal insights and experiences which have evolved in my own work with various counseling mentors and meditation teachers. Even though I regard my own upbringing as fortunate and by no means traumatic, I still know the reality of attachment trauma, grief and loss from my own lived experience. I also know what has helped me to fully move on from these struggles, to a place where I am now much more available to help others.
So to sum up, I integrate EMDR and a variety of other approaches for anyone willing to embark on the courageous journey of healing trauma, at a pace appropriate to your unique circumstances. The one exception is severe dissociation, where clients may need more intensive therapy than what I can offer. I am also eager to explore a person's spirituality as a powerful healing ally - wherever you may be coming from.
I am also working on a three month program to offer Zoom calls with the intention of sharing some powerful meditation methods and building a community of people who are willing and able to enter the inner arena of healing collective trauma - called H.O.P.E Awareness Coaching (Healing Our Planet Earth).
I have compiled a short booklet, Healing from Trauma - Developing a Daily Resilience Practice, which summarizes the three phased trauma approach and shares over ten specific exercises which I use with my clients - with specific themes such as grounding, calming, opening and trauma healing. Several of these exercises contain specific video links which I urge you to check out. I also share here a link to some powerful Breathing Exercises, an information sheet Reclaiming Your Innocence - which summarizes the early trauma approach to EMDR Therapy - and a link to an incredibly useful tool known as the Pattern System, which helps us clearly identify those patterns or parts of ourselves which may need healing.
Finally, I would like to offer a few words about what 'trauma healing' actually involves. In simple terms, the first step is to befriend the most resistant or protective parts of our personality structure and give them real hope that healing is possible and also in their best interests. Then we connect with an open, compassionate state and from here witness how our wounds first emerged along with the beliefs and body sensations that came with them. We lovingly hear this untold story and then imagine and feel what a healed scenario would look like. Having let go of our burdens, we can then integrate new beliefs that affirm our innate self worth and resilience.