Trauma

Ok, not the most peppy of grand opening posts, but it feels relevant so here it goes. At times I feel I am surrounded by trauma. For the statistics lovers out there, there is certainly a selection bias present; individuals will seek out psychological therapy to deal with trauma so being a therapist, I am likely to feel surrounded by trauma. Ok. But never-the-less, it is out there in abundance. People experience suffering and loss. People encounter unexpected catastrophe. People are abused by others when they are most vulnerable. The common denominator: people experience pain (internal) associated with events (external). As a therapist, my extraordinary vocation involves helping people deal with that internal pain associated with external events. There are times when the best service I can provide is to help people modify their external environment. There are other times when the focus of therapy is on the client’s internal experience. ┬áThe latter involves helping the client access his or her full internal experience and sometimes, just witnessing. I am reminded of a client. He was telling me about a small island of relief during a dreadful and extended period of abuse. The memory was vivid. He related the entire scene that occurred over 45 years ago in HDTV quality. The memory was also so very sad. He was drinking a soda with a good friend, another kid, on a city bench. It was actually a rather pleasant scene. What made it sad was that it stood out as a rare moment, a snapshot of a kid just being a kid against a backdrop of years of demoralization. In that moment, there was no “cognitive distortion” for me to remediate because there was nothing pathological about how he remembered this event. It was just profoundly sad and profoundly human. In that moment, I did not do much of anything aside from being aware of and present to the full experience of that man’s painful inner experience.