Paula Thomson, PsyD, is Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Northridge (CSUN). She is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, certified Sport Psychologist, and works in private practice in California.
Paula is Co-Director of the Performance Psychophysiology Laboratory at CSUN, adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute and Professor Emeritus at York University’s Departments of Theatre and Graduate Studies (Canada).
She was a professional dancer and continues work as choreographer and movement coach in dance, theatre and opera. In 2013, she was named one of the top 20 female professors in California.
In collaboration with Dr. S. Victoria Jaque, Dr. Thomson is an active researcher in the field of psychophysiology. Together they are investigating the effects of stress on performing artists, athletes and patients with functional disorders. They have extensive publications in journals and edited books, most notably Encyclopedia of Creativity, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, Creativity Research Journal, Attachment and Human Development, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation among others.
When death comes and whispers to me,
‘Thy days are ended,’
let me say to him, ‘I have lived in love
and not in mere time.’
He will ask, ‘Will thy songs remain?’
I shall say, ‘I know not, but this I know
that often when I sang I found my eternity.’
What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?
Paula talks about her early experience as a dancer and how she came to the realization that there was something blocking her, which then led to her seeking out a therapist who began the work of trauma therapy.
A Crucial Early Mistake
Paula talks about how early on in her career she was afraid of any of her clients mentioning that negative voice going on in their head, because she thought it might bring up the topic of dissociation.
In truth, even as a choreographer, what drives me is the expression of our humanity. Working with trauma has that quality of truth and there’s a beauty and an honor and integrity–a humaneness to it.
- First and foremost, you have to know yourself. And you have to work with a really great therapist.
- Your clients intuitively know how deep you will go with them.
- Find good supervision and colleagues that you can dialogue with.
- Have a powerful support system.
- Your clients sense in you if you have a well being.
Paula’s go-to books
- Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl
- Too Scared To Cry: Psychic Trauma In Childhood, Lenore Terr
- Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society, Bessel A. van der Kolk
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