What is Trauma Informed Therapy?

Image Description: The face of a person covered with a cotton-like material facemask, while with the appearance of being crying by wetness in eyes. Used as a representation of a person in traumatic distress or sadness that could benefit from Trauma Informed Therapy.

Sondra Malling, LCPC, BC-DMT, GL-CMA

Trauma-informed therapy is a holistic approach that recognizes that nearly all humans have experienced some sort of trauma, whether that be an acute event like an assault, ongoing trauma like childhood sexual abuse, or a collective trauma like the COVID-19 pandemic. I am committed to providing such care to my clients. 

In trauma-informed care, I make a commitment to provide you with support in a way that does not re-traumatize you. Instead, the goal is to restore safety, empowerment, and self-worth. This is done through the six principles of trauma-informed care (URL listed at the bottom of the page).

  • Safety: My primary concern as a therapist is that you feel safe in the therapy room. As a dance/movement therapist, one way that I do this is to help you regain a sense of safety in your body. Together, we can identify if you feel safe because your body is hyperaroused or because your body is hypoaroused (see my past blog for more information, URL listed at the bottom of the page). Then, using movement, we can either work to calm the nervous system or give it a bit of a kick-start so that you can feel safe again.
  • Trustworthiness and transparency: Trust is paramount in the therapeutic relationship. One way to build trust is to allow you to go at your own pace. I’m not here to force you to tell me a story you’re not ready to tell or do something you’re not comfortable doing. I also try to be humble as a therapist and to know that I don’t know everything. I will never pretend to have all the answers, but I will commit to helping you find them.
  • Peer support and mutual self-help: Your trauma didn’t happen in a vacuum, and you won’t heal that way, either. In therapy, we will identify not only your internal resources, but also your external resources that can support your journey, such as loved ones, community organizations, and more.
  • Collaboration and mutuality: While I have a lot of knowledge about trauma and psychotherapy, I’m not the expert in our sessions. You are. I work from a place of coming together and building on your strengths and internal wisdom to guide the therapy process.
  • Empowerment, voice, and choice: When selecting what to do in any given therapy session, I will always give you a choice. One day, you may need to talk about your trauma, and on another day, you may need to use deep breathing or mindfulness skills. You may even need to dance it out, which is a perfectly valid option when you’re working with a dance/movement therapist! I’m not there to make that decision for you; I’m here to offer you options and let you pick what will work best for you at that moment.
  • Cultural, historical, and gender issues: Trauma is not only car accidents, assault, or rape. Oppression–such as discrimination based on race, gender, ability, religion, and more–is also trauma. Historical trauma, such as the generational impact of slavery or the theft of indigenous lands, is also trauma. I strive to take the unique cultural background and both historical and present-day systemic oppressions into account when I talk about trauma with my clients. Again, your trauma did not occur in a vacuum; your trauma occurred in a context, and it is important to consider that context throughout your healing journey. 

Interested in experiencing trauma-informed dance/movement therapy (URL at bottom of page) for yourself? Contact us (URL at bottom of page) to learn more.

Links:

Six principles of trauma-informed care: https://traumainformedoregon.org/resources/new-to-trauma-informed-care/trauma-informed-care-principles/

Past blog: https://www.intouchandmotion.com/blog/trauma/trauma-and-neurological-safety/

Dance/movement therapy: https://www.intouchandmotion.com/counseling-services/dance-movement-therapy-illinois/ 

Contact us:  https://www.intouchandmotion.com/contact/