I do not take it lightly that you, the reader, may very well be considering taking a risk by becoming vulnerable with a sensitive aspect of your life and physiology with a total stranger. There has to be some level of trust, comfort and familiarity in order to do this kind of work. With that being said, I would like to answer both questions simultaneously by being as transparent as possible.
Over the past couple years, several clients are often disheartened when I tell them that, "initially we shouldn’t be actively working on their trauma history, initially." The 7-step process I mentioned earlier is extremely necessary. Trauma is complex in its impacts, and therefore the treatment should also be complex in its execution in order to have successful outcomes.
There is often this unspoken expectation
that one needs to share their life story before a trauma informed therapist can be of any help, but on the contrary, this can often be counterproductive especially if this is the first time a
person is exposed to SE. Research has known for the longest time that cognitive behavioral therapy alone is ineffective in bringing relief from the
symptoms of trauma. Instead the results may potentially increase the risk of adding to the existing stress, injury and pain. (1)
Traumatic memories are not stored in a way that they can be accessed by verbal interactions based on cognitively logical processes. These stressful disturbances are stored in the body via sensory networks (“the 5 senses”), the nervous system, muscular system, joints and the vagus nerve which include the primal portion of the brain and the “soft squishy” bits of our visceral. We’ll want to invite all these systems into the room, in a metered manner, in order to equip them with the proper resources to renegotiate your unique history.
The survival response is useful to protect against additional trauma, but it comes with a caveat, a sense of hyper or hypo alertness. This alertness often blocks access to the deep roots of trauma in the body, taking away spontaneity and curiosity, both important resources needed for this work. In a way the 7 steps can be implemented outside of the office and can be quite rewarding during states of stress.
So in short, if it brings more comfort, trust and knowing that one is being heard; you share your story if you truly wish to, or you can choose not to. My intentions are to start off our interactions with a sense of safety, a place of where you inherently have choice in the invitations that are offered and this foundation will be the backbone of our journey together. But please try to understand my P.O.V. if I do not wish to add more water to the overflowing container that may be present, because this certainly may be the very reason why you are now seeking help in the first place.