As clinicians, as counselors, as yogis, as trauma workers, and healers of all kinds, who we are as individuals, is just right.
In fact, it’s perfect.
The unique experiences we’ve had, our values, likes and dislikes, the way we carry the memories of our past in our bones, as well as our relationships, in all their color and complexity, all are valid and valuable.
We don’t need to become something–or someone–else.
In short, everything that serves to comprise who we are as people, matters and is integral to this work we do.
All parts are welcome, as Richard Schwartz says in his Trauma Therapist | 2.0 video.
The fact that you and I have had divergent experiences or come from different worlds, is irrelevant.
What is crucial here is that we are able not simply to believe this, but rather to own this in our hearts and in our roles as trauma workers.
Think: cultivation of self-worth.
I didn’t get this when I was in graduate school. (It seems I didn’t get a lot of things while I was in graduate school.)
Now, however, after several years of experience and 250 interviews under my belt, I get it. This process of the cultivation of authenticity, and its place within our roles as trauma workers, has become the driving theme which inspires everything I do with The Trauma Therapist | Podcast, and my membership community, Trauma Therapist | 2.0.
For it is our own authenticity that will serve to kindle our relationships with our clients, and it is these relationships which will then serve to light the path of our client’s healing.
Uncovering this authenticity within ourselves though can often require its own circuitous healing journey (as it did for myself), and can be something of an obstacle course (as it was for me).
I had always known that believing in myself and simply being as authentic a person as I could were vital aspirations.
However, as I began my training and started devouring everything I could about trauma care, I relegated self-belief and authenticity to the backseat. They simply weren’t elements that I folded into my training.
It wasn’t so much that I ignored them. I just foolishly figured that whatever was required of me to be the best trauma worker I could become couldn’t possibly have been within me, but rather must be living somewhere out there.
I believed it was contained within books, and workshops, and conferences, and webinars.
And all of these are crucial of course, yet without a vibrant self-awareness and a stoked authenticity churning within us, coupled with an understanding of their place within the work we do, we will find ourselves desperately looking outward for a life preserver in the form of some missing intervention or modality.
I naively believed I needed to be someone else, something else, some ideal of the perfect trauma therapist.
I mistakenly felt that I just needed to be better.
I’ve been doing this work for a long time. I can’t remember the last time I’ve used a technique. For me it’s all about the relationship. Kathy Steele, episode 236
The question then is this:
How do we cultivate this belief in, and owning of, ourselves as individuals and as trauma workers?
The easy part of the answer is this: You already know what to do.
It comes by way of the processes that we are all familiar with:
It comes about when we take those first, often frightening steps, onto our own trauma healing path.
It comes when we begin to develop and nourish our somatic awareness.
It begins when we develop and then learn to incorporate mindfulness into our lives.
It shows itself when we work with an amazing supervisor.
It evinces itself when we realize that our clients know the truth and are the experts.
We are no different than our clients. Peter Bernstein, episode 207.
It comes about when we have the fortune of witnessing much more seasoned clinicians than ourselves, do some work.
This was when the lightbulb went off for me.
I recall sitting back and watching much more seasoned clinicians working through a series of dyadic exercises in a workshop ten years ago.
What I saw opened my eyes.
What they were doing was very simple, and yet very strange to me at that time: They were being themselves.
No trying to be some ideal of a trauma therapist.
They were doing things like laughing, and saying, I don’t know, if they didn’t know the answer to something, and allowing themselves to show emotion, or feel, and react honestly.
And this was all unfolding as they were being in relationship with the person sitting right across from them.
They were being nothing and no one other than themselves and they were being vulnerable.
And therein lies the not so easy part of the answer, but it is also where the magic of this work resides:
in our ability to cultivate relationship, and in our willingness to show our vulnerability as we do so.
Share your thoughts and struggles and how you’re cultivating your own authenticity. I’d love to hear from you.