As a licensed psychotherapist, I work with my clients to overcome the kind of trauma that comes from adverse early beginnings. Adverse early beginnings – coming from an abusive, neglectful or chaotic background – is a very particular kind of trauma that leaves one with a complex and long lasting range of impacts that can get in the way as we grow older and try to build our adult lives.
I’m a trauma therapist, yes, but my work differs from trauma work designed to support those who experienced isolated, single-incident traumas as adults (like car crashes, assault, etc.).
Trauma that takes place over a long period of time in the context of a power-imbalanced caregiver relationship tends to have impacts that are more complex and so it requires a commensurately nuanced and different treatment approach.
A different kind of trauma work. Relational trauma recovery work.
When working with therapy clients, my relational trauma recovery work is evidence-based, psychoanalytically-driven, and housed in a relational, humanistic frame.
Psychoeducation in the relational trauma recovery sense means helping you understand that you do indeed come from a trauma history, what the multitudinous impacts of this were and are, and what else you can expect instead for yourself, from others, and from life. In seeing ourselves and our realities more clearly, we can better understand the healing work in front of us.
When we come from relational trauma histories, we may waste our precious life energy just trying to survive, to cope and get through. Often we miss the opportunity to address the age-appropriate developmental tasks of a child and adolescent and we fail to learn the bedrock psychological skills that can add up to a whole, healthy, rooted-in-reality life. Relational trauma recovery work puts a large emphasis on helping you learn and relearn the skills you may have missed out on. Catching up on being an adult, as it were.
Trauma-informed processing is, at its core, grief work and sense-making. But we do this work in phased, titrated, and multi-modal ways drawing on attachment-focused EMDR, CBT, DBT, Somatic Experiencing, attachment theory, and more. First, we ensure you are stabilized enough to turn back and recall your memories, then we help you process them both cognitively and somatically, making sense of your personal history, yes, but also helping your brain and body (which are both hardwired for healing) metabolize your experiences fully so the past is no longer present cognitively or somatically.
I firmly believe that, when our early wounds take place in the context of relationship, it’s through relationship – a certain kind of healthy, attuned, deeply caring relationship – that the biggest healing happens. That’s why I place a large emphasis on building this kind of relationship with my clients, using appropriate self-disclosure, and sharing stories, fables, myths, and anecdotes of others to help you feel less alone. I’m not the “blank screen”, Freudian-era clinician. I’m a therapist in the trenches with you, laughing, crying, being curious, being human with you.
You deal with estrangements, disownment, brittle, broken and fractured relationships in your family of origin.
You live with a chronic sense of anxiety and depression that peaks with acute triggers from time to time.
You struggle with finding and keeping good, healthy relationships. With romantic partners, with friends, and more.
You can’t remember large chunks of your childhood, nor do you necessarily want to.
You feel like you “pass” in life – you’ve got a great job, good degrees, and most people would look at you and assume you’re high-functioning. But you think to yourself, “If only they knew…”
Your inside experience doesn’t line up with your resume or LinkedIn profile. Things look good on the outside, but inside you feel terrible. You don’t feel up for the level of responsibilities you hold now, and you feel like you’re “faking” being a grownup.
You have a hard time – a really hard time – staying present with your feelings and your life without using food, cannabis, wine, work, serial dating, binging TV, or other escapes. You don’t feel like you have a choice around this.
You struggle with an eating disorder and have since you were young.
“Little things” – like getting an email from your boss or seeing a certain person’s number show up on your phone makes you feel panicky.
You have low self-esteem, relentless inner critics, and would even go so far as to say you hate yourself and your life at times.
You’ve previously been diagnosed with C-PTSD, General Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, or you’ve experienced major depressive episodes in your past.
Or, conversely, your mother or father may have been diagnosed with a mood- or personality-disorder.
You grew up in a home where addictions – to substances or behaviors – were present.
You can clearly remember verbal, emotional or physical abuse from childhood.
You grew up in a fundamentalist church, spiritual community or cult, and felt gaslit, disempowered, and shamed by not only your parents but from the other adults in power around you.
And so much more.
So, most importantly, if some small part of you, any part of you believes that this is what you need – trust that part of you. You already know the answer.
So please, if this is you, if you’re curious about working together and you live in California or Florida, please feel free to reach out to my offices to explore what it might be like to work together. A member of my team will get back to you right away.
And no matter what, whether you choose to work with me or not, I want to leave you with these words which have guided my work and buoyed my soul since I first read them:
“She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful.”
TERRI ST. CLOUD
Wherever you are in the world as you read these words right now, I wish you well.