What is trauma?
Trauma is what happens to us when we encounter a situation which exceeds our ability to cope. Parts of us split off from conscious awareness in order to survive, holding the memory and the pain of the trauma as well as part of our life energy. Many people recognize trauma as an outcome of occurrences that are clearly invasive, violent, and/or abusive, such as severe accidents and major surgery, natural disasters, attacks, war, sexual abuse, child abuse, and blatant neglect. In some cases, death and loss are recognized as being traumatic.
However, trauma also occurs when a child is not loved and wanted for who they are, not held or touched enough, put up for adoption, expected to serve a parent's needs, verbally criticized, ignored, exposed to religious perspectives that teach the child that who they are is inherently evil, and not given the space and permission to safely feel and express their emotions. Parents are not usually intentionally neglectful. In fact, they often have the best of intentions, but their own unaddressed trauma impacts what they can and can't provide for their children. For example, a parent who learned to suppress their emotions in order to survive their childhood, and who has not worked through that as an adult, will not be able to provide an environment in which their child is comfortable with and able to feel their feelings.
Trauma has a way of keeping us locked in time by the responses and behaviors that we developed in order to survive. When we were young, we may have lived in a chronically anxious state because our parents or caregivers were not safe, suppressed our emotions because we were punished when we dared to show our feelings, become withdrawn because there was no one there who really saw, heard, and responded to our needs, lashed out because it was the only way we received attention, become a "good girl" or "good boy" because being "good" was what triggered our parents' affection or attention, turned to strangers, pets, or other family members for love because we couldn't find it in our parents. These strategies were exactly what we needed when we had no other way to protect ourselves. However, over time, those same behaviors develop into long-standing and disruptive patterns such as hypersensitivity, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, avoidance of intimacy, addictions, social disengagement, anger issues and violent behavior, people-pleasing, getting into relationships with people who are not trustworthy or safe, and perceiving and treating ourselves as if we are not worthy of love and care. They keep us from accessing our innocence, vitality, deepest desires, and innate potential.
When traumatic events occur within families, communities, and whole cultures -- whether they are related to birth and death, bonding and attachment, natural disasters, abuse, mental or physical illness, religious persecution, racism, war, incarceration, slavery, or loss of home/country -- the whole family and future generations will experience consequences, often without even knowing about the original trauma. This is called transgenerational trauma. It is pervasive and prevalent across all demographics, and can be particularly difficult to pinpoint and address because we experience the effects without necessarily knowing the context.
In my practice, both in one-to-one and group sessions, I use The Intention Method based in Identity-oriented Psychotrauma Theory, or IoPT, to support you in gently exploring the roots of issues you are struggling with and in becoming reacquainted with the parts of yourself that have been waiting to be seen and embraced and who carry the gifts of your authenticity, your will to live, and your ability to thrive. This method is unique in its ability to bring to light roots of trauma of which our conscious minds are not aware -- including traumas related to our own conception, birth, and early childhood, as well as transgenerational traumas. It is a powerful method, yet it is also very gentle and has little risk of being retraumatizing.
To read more about The Intention Method, click here.