Our understanding of trauma, its causes, its treatments, and how it affects not just the mind but also the body, has never been more complete than it is now. Thanks to the work of eminent thinkers in the field, Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Gabor Maté and others such as Pete Walker, Scott Kiloby and Giten Tonkov, it seems that healing modalities across the board are rushing to label themselves as ‘trauma informed’.
Trauma is the big word of the moment. And its breakthrough and understanding is certainly one of the great contributions of our current age to the psychological and even spiritual realms. Remember, though, with our new western insights, we can and must look back to some of the traditional, folkloric wisdom throughout the world, from Africa to South America, and see how an innate communal understanding of trauma was often front-and-centre in their very conception of society. This is once again a reminder that humility is often a welcome addendum to our modern, western-centric, ‘scientific breakthroughs’.
Biodynamic Breathwork Trauma Release System, Somatic Experiencing, Biodynamic Psychotherapy, Somatic Inquiry, The Kiloby Inquiries – what do these approaches all have in common, and can any or all of them be used in an online context ? These are the questions we will look at now.
Without a doubt, their core unifying characteristic is their focus on a somatic approach. What does this mean? It refers to the absolute importance of including the body in the client’s experience. After all, whatever patterns of suffering that the clients seeks to dissolve or dispel, are experienced in the body as feelings and sensations. If it wasn’t for these feelings and sensations then any thought would be as harmless as a cloud passing in the sky. So an importance at least equal to that of the mind, and thoughts, is placed on the bodily felt sense. They are often two sides of the same coin, and to consider one without the other misses the full picture.
The second unifying characteristic of pretty much all of these trauma-informed modalities is that there will be some form of activation. And activating the charge in the body, either from meditation and inquiry, or through breathwork, for example, is what keeps it ‘real’. Otherwise, as with much ‘talking therapy’, it can become little more than an opportunity to push concepts around, and this can continue almost indefinitely with little genuine benefit.
We activate the body because that is where the trauma, the charge, is stored. Pendulation is an important concept here and refers to the oscillation of the client’s state between charge and resource. It is by reactivating, and either releasing or reframing that charge, that the trauma is gradually released. However, it must be done gently and in manageable instalments – that is the very essence of pendulation.
So where does Zoom come into all of this, and how well do these approaches translate to an online setting? Well the answer is that actually all of them work extremely well online, by Zoom or Skype or any other platform. The ‘magic’ of the process comes from within. The facilitator facilitates. That is, she creates the holding space and the structure of the session that allows the client to relax into the process. But the secret ingredient – that was inside all along. Find more about online trauma therapy here.