Healing from trauma is like scuba diving.
If life is an ocean, healing from trauma means going deep-sea diving.
Sometimes when clients come to me, they feel like they are drowning in the waves of daily stressors. Some stressors include challenges with family members, difficulty at work, problems with current relationships or self-esteem. Some stressors are very clearly connected to traumatic experiences, like intrusive thoughts or images. These trauma-stressors are like lightning - they come in flashes, often passing very quickly, but the effect of the charge can feel paralyzing. Some clients come to me using behaviors like excessively drinking alcohol, smoking/vaping weed, cutting, gambling, using sex, shopping, over-eating, under-eating, or yelling as life rafts to numb the pain. I always tell my clients that whatever skills clients are currently using to stay afloat was helpful at one point in their journey, but now that once-reliable floatation device might be losing its air and causing them to struggle even more. Often clients come to me recognizing that these skills/floatation devices are no longer helpful to them. Sometimes, they can’t see it yet. However, when clients come to me, wherever they are in their life journey, they almost always want better swimming skills. They want relief. Typically, treatment starts out by helping my clients to become stronger swimmers, showing them new buoys, life-jackets and anchoring techniques like DBT skills and meditation. If someone has difficulty stay afloat within the currents and storms of daily life, they usually aren’t ready to go deep sea diving.
Once the client and I feel comfortable with their swimming (aka coping) skills, then it’s time to get ready for deeper work. All scuba divers need to feel comfortable with their oxygen tank. In my therapy space, the oxygen tank is any connection to the breath and, for some, a Higher Power. This Higher Power connection can be with nature, God, Goddess, Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, Krishna, etc. I do not promote a particular faith system. I promote mind-body connection; clients learn to be attuned to their breath and somatic (bodily) responses. Mindfulness practices allow us to connect with calm and therefore access the sacred, inner Self that sometimes gets lost in muddy, tumultuous waters.
It is always the client who is in control of their healing and self-discovery process; I serve as a guide. As a therapist, I am like a skilled scuba diver. I gently encourage my clients to explore dark places, hidden caves, and the wreckage at the bottom of the ocean. It is often these old pieces at the bottom of the ocean that impact the strength of the waves on the surface, the challenges of present-day. When we go exploring, we often find rifts in the ocean floor, sunken old relation-ships, shame spirals, and sometimes we come across predators, like sharks (assailants) or sting rays. We also tend to find beautiful coral reefs (positive memories), colorful fish (supportive relationships), and hidden treasures (character assets). Using a variety of modalities including EMDR, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and creative expression – all depending on what the client needs, I support my clients as they clear out the old wreckage at the bottom of their ocean, dissolve trauma-related suffering, overcome fear, and discover more adaptive beliefs. My clients learn to enjoy and embody the full-expression of their True selves.
Are you ready to swim free and with confidence?