Issue #4: April 2021
Kate Hudgins, Ph,D, TEP
Issue #3: March 2021
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a mindfulness practice of employing togetherness (resonance) in how we speak, how we listen, and the meaning we make of what people say, especially when they express pain. A central tenet of NVC is that humans all share the same basic universal needs, and that when those needs are unmet we experience distress.
What we might call “needs consciousness” is a potent way of inviting our clients to honor and acknowledge the ‘ofcourseness’ of their emotional experience, instead of analyzing, reframing, dismissing, shaming, blaming, defending, deflecting responsibility, or trying to change what is true for our emotional selves in any moment. As we become familiar with hearing universal needs and longings in our clients, we start to understand the relationship between body sensations, emotions (feelings) and needs. When we begin to then give words to the hidden or unexpressed emotional and physical body’s experience, we move into what I call Somatic Empathy or Resonance, an approach to the practice of NVC that lets us integrate emotional and physical relaxation and self-compassion.
Neurobiologically, our bodies relax when our emotional experience, and the longings underneath them, are named with precision and warmth. Our emotions (and the deep longings underneath them) carry important information about what truly matters to us, and if we turn toward ourselves with judgement, shame, or even reassurance (which is a form of bypassing), our bodies do not get to deliver their deep messages! When our bodies cannot deliver these important messages, our bodies do not relax, and the messages stay stuck in our hearts, stomachs, throats and faces — almost like a snapshot of the emotional world we were living in at the moment of a challenging experience of trauma.
Incorporating NVC and somatic resonance into our therapeutic practice helps us be together with our clients in relating to the emotional experience of the body with deep reverence, and using needs language to connect our clients to the unmet needs and longings that are driving the feeling state. As therapists, we can learn to listen closely for the deep longings and values that make themselves known in our clients’ speech, and learn to track the common habits of speech that create disconnection (both in our clients and in how we respond to them.)
Incorporating NVC into our therapy practice is often quite difficult because we as space-holders will inevitably begin to see how we ourselves have also picked up unintentional language habits! We might begin to notice ourselves making judgments, giving advice, providing reassurance (as opposed to resonance), feeling criticism for our clients’ way of being or their rigidity/stuckness, or otherwise trying to get our clients to be different, to shift, change, see another way of being so they might experience healing/movement/insights etc.
What we uncover about ourselves as therapists in employing resonance through non-violent communication is that we often shift into instrumental ways of relating when something about our client’s way of being exceeds our own window of tolerance, or when we haven’t yet learned to see our oppositional or instrumental language habits. There is a world of difference between making reassuring statements, like “You’re going to be all right,” versus asking resonant questions, like “Were you really worried about whether you were going to make it through this?” There is a world of difference between responding to distress with, “Is that behavior getting you what you want?” versus “Yes of course, I wonder if you’re choosing that because you long to live in a world where all humans are met with dignity?” Can you feel the resonance and togetherness of the latter examples of relational language and resonant questions?
A committed practice of NVC as therapists and space-holders takes on-going long-term learning and immersion to change the deeply wired habits of language that most of us bring with us out of childhood. We begin this work with ourselves, and then we can learn to resonate with our clients. If you’d like to dive into understanding the neuroscience of resonance and accompaniment, learn how to translate habits of reassurance into new capacities for learning to acknowledge and give warmth for what is true, instead of trying to change our and others feelings, please consider my 6-hr mini-course Tending to Trauma with Resonance https://sarahpeyton.com/project/tending-to-trauma-with-resonance-an-online-course/ .
If you’d like a shorter opportunity to deep-dive into understanding how resonance can be applied to every-day traumas and challenges, please consider my 2021 monthly webinar neuroscience and resonance series (drop-ins or attend the full series.) https://sarahpeyton.com/project/neuroscience-and-resonance-monthly-webinar-series/
Issue #2: February 2021
Adena Bank Lees.
Yes, yes, yes! This is why I created this newsletter, because I get to highlight and talk about incredible people like Adena. Adena is one of my favorites.
She’s been on the podcast a few times (Here in episode 410) and she’s joined us in Trauma Therapist | 2.0 as part of our Master Class Video Interviews.
It’s her sense of authenticity, her presence, her ability to engage with her clients and her warmth and genuineness which emanates from her soul that is the reason I wanted to include her here in the newsletter.
Adena: Truth be told, I have been on a steep learning curve for how to ethically and effectively facilitate trauma-responsive Psychodrama via Zoom for training, consulting, and psychotherapy. So far so good!
My main mission continues to be bringing Covert Emotional Incest (CEI) out of the shadows and shining light on the process of identifying and healing from it.
At the same time, I continue to be honored to be a trusted trauma professional. I bring my commitment to authenticity, humility, and impeccable boundaries with me, in both my personal and professional life. I love facilitating clinical consultation for independently licensed mental health professionals, on how to work specifically with CEI and other traumas, with special focus on how we, the therapist, are impacted by our client’s stories and how we can use this to forge a strong and productive therapeutic relationship.
I am currently offering specialized Psychodrama services for adults 25 years and older who demonstrate continued motivation and commitment in making positive change in their lives. I work as a team with the client and their primary therapist to assist in emotional breakthroughs such as grieving a loss or the release of blocked feelings. Trauma-responsive Psychodrama invites the use of our imagination and the practice of new behaviors with the containment and safety necessary for a successful outcome.
Adena is an internationally recognized speaker, author, trainer and consultant, providing a fresh and important look at traumatic stress, addiction treatment and recovery. Her specialty is childhood sexual abuse, in particular, Covert Emotional Incest. Adena has been providing premier services around the globe for over 30 years. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor, Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress, and a Certified Practitioner of Psychodrama.
Adena is the author of Covert Emotional Incest: The Hidden Sexual Abuse, A Story of Hope and Healing, as well as 12 Healing Steps for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse; A Practical Guide. Her passion is to utilize action methods in both client treatment and professional training to optimize laughter while learning.
Learn more about Adena:
If you are interested in a consult to learn more, please contact me. Or, you can check out my my book, Covert Emotional Incest: The Hidden Sexual Abuse, where I detail the complex nature of CEI, its damaging consequences, and the path to restoration of health and well-being.
Issue 1. January 2021
Incorporating expressive modalities while focusing on clients’ resiliency and strengths are also trauma informed concepts woven into every training. I believe effective learning occurs best in a professional, nurturing, supportive, and fun environment that fosters collegial sharing and networking. I further believe that clinicians are only as effective professionally as the extent to which they take care of themselves personally, so we also address issues of counter-transference, vicarious traumatization, and professional burnout.
My faculty is comprised of talented, seasoned clinicians and educators who are dynamic, articulate, and passionate about their work. They are equally committed to enhancing clinician efficacy and are sensitive to the challenges that face therapists as they grapple with complex client issues.
What we are focusing on now…
Given the realities of Covid and the need for physical distancing, we had to transfer all of our live trainings to an online format, and therapists had to make the transition from live to tele-health sessions. This presented several new challenges for us. For our workshops, we needed to make sure that the way in which we were disseminating information to participants remained engaging. We also needed to factor in some of the clinical issues that are unique to tele-mental health and the triggers arising from the Pandemic and other systemic societal stressors that are adversely affecting our clients’ mental health. As we’ve offered ways for therapists to modify and use creative modalities in an online format, we are also focusing on helping therapists assess whether or not it is appropriate to continue working with clients on issues related to trauma when they are not interacting face to face.
Many clients may want to put their deeper trauma work on hold for a variety of legitimate reasons. The online format might feel too impersonal: not being in our office with our physical presence and safe surroundings can compromise a sense of being grounded and secure. Some clients are focused on the lack of privacy and the fact that once the session ends they are right back in their home environment with kids or their partner, and no time to decompress or engage in self-soothing. And many clients feel too preoccupied with current circumstances: exhausted from home schooling; worried about finances and their jobs; concerned about loved ones who are sick; grieving a myriad of losses; or angry or bored from being so isolated. If the therapist and client mutually agree that it is safe and appropriate to continue processing emotionally charged material it is vitally important to encourage the client to have soothing and grounding resources available to them at the start of the session.
Holding a pet, wrapping themselves in a favorite blanket, having a soothing picture nearby, or using aromatherapy can be helpful. Remember to pace the work, frequently checking in about how they are handling the online format. Make sure to leave enough time before the end of the session for containment and re-grounding. Use breathwork or a description of body sensations or current surroundings to get clients fully present.
Our Institute offerings are designed to keep the work trauma-informed and safe, especially during these uncertain times.
Click here to learn more about The Ferentz Institute.