Learn How to Embrace Your Anxiety
Many people have initially come to me requesting something like the following: “I want to get rid of or control my anxiety.”
This makes sense. Anxiety can be uncomfortable, scary, confusing, or even paralyzing. Of course, we want to make it go away or will ourselves to just not feel it. It is understandable to desire these things, but it is unlikely that you will be able to just think yourself out of it. If you could, you probably would have already done so!
Anxiety is not an emotional reaction. It is a biological response. It is an amazing built-in tool that, as humans, we were equipped with to help us assess the level of danger/threat in a given situation, and then act to get ourselves out of that situation. It is useful and it is necessary for survival.
The intention of our anxiety mechanism is to help us, but this is not to say that it always actually does help us. Our internal system does not know the different between a lion trying to attack you versus a dreaded presentation you have to give at work tomorrow. In both scenarios, if you feel anxious, your body is responding in the same way. This is because a threat has been detected whether it be an actual external predator, or the fear of the judgement of others.
Anxiety therapy can help you to deepen your understanding of your own anxiety so that you can know just what to do when it requires your attention. Together we will get to know your anxious parts from a place of curiosity and acceptance. We will find ways for you to hear what your anxiety is trying to communicate to you, and work on rebuilding (or building for the first time) the ability to create safety within yourself. Developing a relationship with your anxiety will help you to hear it out, give it what it needs, and restore a sense of calmness.
Understanding Trauma Informed Care
Being a trauma informed therapist means that I have spent significant time learning and understanding how trauma can impact the whole person. When overwhelming and harmful things happen in our lives, we become changed on many levels. Mentally, emotionally, psychologically, physically, and even spiritually, things seem to alter. Sometimes we don’t even realize this has occurred because we experienced trauma so early on in our lives.
Being trauma informed means I know that people will think, act, and feel in certain ways because of the difficult things they have experienced. I also know that people may struggle with making the connection between the thing (or things) that happened, and their current emotional or behavioral concerns. This can be confusing and sticky to navigate, so it is important any therapist you work with have the knowledge to guide you through this process in a responsible and safe way.
My trauma-informed way is not about simply listening to your story, or even about you needing to retell your story (although you can, if you prefer too). I want you to know this is not the expectation. I am well versed in the nuances of how trauma can show up, and my role is to help you address these presentations in the safest possible way. We may focus on the behaviors you wish to change, but we will also focus on the underlying reason for the behaviors as well as the relief they tend to provide. We will work to understand the protective roles within your own system and build the trust within you so that these roles can be let go of. In this way, long lasting true healing and change become possible on the deepest level.
Only when all parts of you are on board, ready, and open to exploring your trauma will we do anything of the sort. You are always going to be in control of just how far we go, and any therapist that tries to push beyond what is safe for you to do is not practicing trauma-informed care.
Finally, trauma-informed therapy can apply to anyone. It is not just for people who have more “obvious” sources of trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse or combat trauma. Anything that has caused significant distress for you in your life might just be considered trauma. This includes emotional abuse, grief/loss, a global pandemic, significant depression/anxiety, eating disorders, bullying, accidents, witnessing something unsettling, attachment wounds, and more. The list really can go on, and on. Regardless of the name you use for emotionally difficult things in life, it is likely these experiences have had some level of impact on you. Trauma informed therapy is about finding hope, strength, and resilience among it all.