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This blog is where I write about some of the Continuing Professional Development I undertake.  I hope you find it interesting, useful and informative.

By natahicks, Apr 11 2020 04:04PM

I attended this back in early March and found it really useful for further informing my knowledge of how best to recognise trauma and help cllients heal from it. I have attempted to summarise the recovery framework below, and hope you find it interesting.


Trauma is a ‘wound’. It causes bio-chemical inflammation. Trauma reduces blood flow to the brain. Neurons need oxygen and glucose and they obtain this via blood circulation. Anything that interferes with this process will cause further damage and prevent healing.


Trauma can be epigenetic and some individuals can have a pre-disposition towards being traumatised easily. There are many different causes of trauma (ranging from the extremes such as war, natural disasters/accidents, rape to developmental trauma through childhood abandonment, abuse, neglect – sexual, physical and emotional. Even birth stress to mother and child, and some invasive medical and dental procedures.)


There are two types of trauma symptoms/behaviours –


Hyperarousal – where the person displays outward signs of trauma (flashbacks, panic attacks, mood swings, nightmares, hypervigilant/active, shame and self-loathing, anxiety and phobias)

Individuals can be attracted towards danger as a way of increasing depleted levels of dopamine and serotonin (feel-good hormone/neurotransmitters.) These in turn can cause addictions, avoidance and mental blockages.

*Similar to ADHD symptoms


Hypoarousal – where the trauma is more internalised. Dissociation Symptoms – (detached from oneself – own life, and thoughts and feelings. OCD/compelling behaviours. Mood swings and amnesia. Immobilization/Freezing. Overwhelming feelings of helplessness. Primarily PTSD)


Polyvagal Theory (Stephen Porges) works on the 3 stages of the vagal nerve state (i.e. the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system again.)


Counselling/psychotherapy enables expression, awareness and thought restructuring techniques (CBT, mindfulness), art and play therapy to encourage expressing thoughts/feelings; as well as controlled breathing (count to 5 whilst taking breaths in through the nose, and count to 10 whilst exhaling longer breaths out via the mouth) and body movement (walking, dancing, jogging, swimming, yoga and pilates).


A combination of Social engagement and Activities that link up or ‘cross the mid-line’, enabling individuals to be in a place of calm and safety so they have an ability to recover from their Traumatic Self and be their Post-Traumatic Self or their Pre-Traumatic Self and have future goals and intentions.

(NB. Some individuals were never able to have a Pre-Traumatic Self, i.e, many children born into poverty and/or dysfunctional households, war zones)


In managing phobias of trauma, the goal of therapy is to help the traumatised individuals reintegrate the trauma memory into personal narrative without re-living their trauma in the process


T - terminate sources of re-traumatisation (be grounded, get a Safe Base. Recovery from any addictions is imperative first.)


R - reintegrate survivors into loving and supportive environment (reconnect with supportive social networks – i.e. counsellor, family or friends or support groups. Whatever works best for the individual. Overcome phobias. Recognise emotional needs and feelings.)


A - accelerate the brain’s healing process (Sleep. Smell/Massage – calming essential oils. Breathing. Purpose and meaning (NB, play for children.) Gratitude and appreciation. Connecting with positive people, but not co-dependency or ‘rescuing’. Acts of kindness – but NOT at the detriment of self-care. Good diet – quality fats and proteins. Less sugar and carbs


U - untangle the nervous system from the immobility response. (Somatic exercises linking up mind and body sensations in order to reintegrate and re-orientate the fragmented individual. Raising self-awareness. Linking up of Left Brain (logic) / Right Brain (emotions) Horizontal brain (executive/cognitive functioning) / Vertical brain (primal ‘survival’ instinct.) Visualisation and mental movement of problem to increase strength and empowerment. Physical movement – music, drama, dance.


NB. See Dan Siegel’s The Whole Brain Child and Dan Hughes PACE/DDP Approach for children.


M - manage phobias of trauma. Feeling secure – being seen, being validated, being nurtured. Connecting with other social beings. Sense of community. Forming strong and secure attachments – with a parent, a spouse or with a therapist. (NB. Psycho-education helps develop self-care and resilience.)


A - attuning to life and creating future positive intentions. Positive affirmations and statements. Setting goals for the future. Strive towards the ‘ideal self’. I AM and I REFUSE statements. (EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique) Meditation with intentions. Use past experiences to help others.






By natahicks, Oct 18 2019 07:23PM

What do you know about emotional abuse in the form of enmeshment? Having an invasive parent and being a ‘chosen child’ are the hallmarks of a form of ‘emotional incest’. It’s similar to being the favourite but feeling guilty for it. It’s a type of ‘positive neglect’ whereby one’s own needs are never really understood or met. The psychological implications are anxiety and/or depression that impact upon personal relationships caused by not really knowing who we are or what or who works for us as we have been so used to being ‘rewarded’ for putting the needs of a parent before our own.


Contact me if this resonates with you and you would like to explore this concept in more depth, as a means to achieving positive change.


By natahicks, Jan 21 2018 10:43AM

Bessel Van der Kolk's amazing book, The Body Keeps the Score, highlights the myriad of ways the mind controls the body by forcing it to hold varous forms of trauma in our muscles, in our lungs and our gut, and via other body-brain connections such as headaches. Through the use of various approaches including drama therapy and physical movement, breathing and mindfulness, EMDR, neurofeedback and through talking therapies that lead to self-awareness we can achieve emotional regulation.



By natahicks, Nov 10 2017 06:04PM

I attended this one day workshop with Dr Richard Erskine on Monday 13th November in London and found it hugely informative in terms of discovering his latest thoughts on Attachment, in terms of there being an 'Isolated' relational pattern. This being people who have been 'over parented' and can be superficially social, but wll use emotional withdrawal to manage relationships. I can see the links to TA here, as it highlights the significance of having a controlling or critical parent who crucially would be misattuned to their child's sense of identity.


I also witnessed him undertake an intriguing live goldfish bowl therapy session too, with slightly weird undertones of the Carl Rogers and Gloria sessions!

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