Tending the Heart, Cultivating Compassion, Growing Inner Peace
Judy Noddin, LMFT
Internal Family Systems, Somatic and Expressive Arts Therapy
If you have traumatic experiences from the past that remain unhealed, this likely clouds your present experience in a way that makes it difficult for you to see yourself and your choices in life clearly.
We come into the world with bodies and minds wired to allow us to connect to others and also to survive in a potentially hostile environment. When our sense of safety and well-being feels threatened (physically, emotionally, or relationally) our bodies and minds jump into action to protect us.
Our first line of defense is to seek support and safety through social connection. However, if that connection is not available our autonomic nervous system instantly and unconsciously signals us to fight, flee, freeze or collapse.
If we have the ability to take the actions necessary, including the needed support, resources, knowledge and power to cope successfully with overwhelming experiences, we emerge feeling safe, capable, supported and alive, and these experiences become comfortably integrated into a broader sense of ourselves and the world.
However, if we do not have enough support, resources, knowledge or power to cope successfully with painful and overwhelming life experiences, we can get triggered into a chronic state of nervous system dysregulation. In this state we often feel ashamed, frightened, powerless, confused, or disconnected from ourselves and others.
Anxiety reflects a system in a chronic fight/flight/freeze response, while depression often reflects a nervous system that is stuck in a chronic state of collapse.
If you are a person with a trauma history, you likely experience intense or extreme physical and emotional responses, which in turn affects your ability to regulate physically and emotionally and feel safe in your own body and in relationships. Because of this you may be unable to feel a basic sense of well-being.
This discomfort and inability to feel safe leads people to habituated, unconscious ways of coping in an attempt to feel better.
Trauma compromises our ability to engage with others by replacing patterns of connection with patterns of protection. If we do not feel safe, we are chronically in a state of evaluation and defensiveness.
When coping strategies and beliefs about ourself and others are formed around this chronic internal activation and dysregulation (lack of sense of security and well-being) we usually develop beliefs that ultimately are not healthy or life-affirming.
For example, we might come to see ourselves as weak, damaged or unloveable in some way. If we view the world as inherently dangerous and hostile we will anticipate abuse or rejection and in an attempt to feel safe, we may become very guarded not allowing others too close. Because of this we may become isolated, lonely and lacking in the basic level of support we need to thrive as human beings.
In order to feel safe we might try to make ourselves invisible, or use the opposite strategy and try to seem all-powerful or completely perfect. We may constantly feel on edge and have difficulty relaxing, or use drugs, alcohol, sex or other compulsive behaviors to try to numb our pain or give us a sense of aliveness.
For therapy to adequately address trauma it must include attention to our thoughts, beliefs and emotions; but also must heal our nervous system and address the chronic activation and dysregulation.
Holistic therapy using Internal Family Systems (IFS), Somatic Attachment Therapy, Mindfulness, and Drama and Expressive Arts Therapy techniques, will support you to re-pattern the ways your autonomic nervous system operates, allowing you to experience a nervous system that can more easily return to a sense of balance and wellbeing.
Through trauma focused therapy I can help you grieve past losses and reclaim wounded parts of yourself you had to disconnect from because you lacked the necessary internal resources or external support at the time of the trauma or overwhelming stress to be able to deal with the pain.
I will support you to reconnect with these wounded parts, tend to them with tenderness and compassion, and begin to reclaim the vitality and creativity they also hold, so you will be able to move forward with a new sense of energy, clarity and hope.
Through our work together, I will help you to:
Cultivate understanding of and compassion for the struggles you are experiencing.
Feel safer and more at ease in your body.
Restore healthy nervous system regulation and experience a greater sense of rest, relaxation and empowerment.
Let go of survival coping strategies that are no longer working or needed.
Develop the ability to be in the present moment and connected to your sense of aliveness.
Develop skills to express and manage powerful emotions and cope better with everyday stresses.