I offer trauma-informed breathwork in recognition of the fact that working with the breath takes people to their inner world, often by-passing the mind. It opens them up to emotions that their systems may have shut away for a long time as a way of coping with life.
It is important that my clients are in the right place in their lives to undertake this work, that they have the resources to cope with what has arisen, and that they are not re-traumatized in the process.
For these reasons, I would always recommend finding a breathwork practitioner who has grounded their training by gaining an in-depth understanding of the different aspects of working with trauma, who has undertaken their own long term therapeutic process, and who has access to professional supervision.
WHAT DOES TRAUMA-INFORMED BREATHWORK MEAN?
Being trauma-informed means having an understanding of how traumatic events can affect someone psychologically, physically and emotionally. It also means being able to recognize the signs that someone might be re-entering a traumatized state (fight, flight, freeze, fawn, and faint). This includes – but is not limited to – noticing what is happening with the breath, the skin tone and temperature, and muscular tension. It requires an awareness of the possibility for emotional overwhelm and the need to balance opening up the emotions with easing off, reducing stimulation and engaging the parasympathetic nervous system.
Trauma is a subjective experience. What one person experiences as trauma might not be traumatic to another. There is also a difference between a one-off traumatic event, chronic trauma that has happened over a long period of time, and developmental trauma that has occurred in the early years of life, perhaps even before a child has learnt to talk.
I combine body and breathwork with other techniques, including coaching, massage, and holding techniques, so that I can meet whatever arises in the most helpful way for my clients.
As well as the training I received as a body and breathwork practitioner, I have learnt from working with practitioners in workshop settings, and I have supplemented this with additional trauma courses from the Gestalt Centre London, and also by studying the work of Babette Rothschild. You can read more about by training and experience on my About Me page.
WORKING WITH COPING MECHANISMS IN A TRAUMA-INFORMED WAY
This work brings people into contact with their coping mechanisms. I use trauma-informed breathwork to help my clients to get to know these mechanisms in their bodies, and to acknowledge how helpful they have been for survival in the past. Here are two common ways that people use to cope:
Dissociation – emotional detachment from immediate surroundings, which might be understood as “zoning out” or mental flight from a situation, is a coping mechanism that I encounter regularly. Body and breathwork can be a really helpful tool in experiencing the dissociation and then learning how to come back into presence.
Escaping to the mind – many of the people I work with have disconnected from their bodies, especially their hearts, because it has been too painful. The mind has taken over to try to protect the psyche from further hurt. The process of opening to the feelings in the heart can take time, as the pattern of resorting to thinking rather than feeling has become so strong. Learning to inhabit the body by getting to know the feelings it holds can be life-changing.
THE CONSULTATION PROCESS
During the first session I do a consultation with the intention of :
- establishing what resources and support you have available to you
- learning what has happened to your body in terms of accidents, injuries, illnesses and medical interventions
- being made aware of any major life events that have had an impact on your wellbeing
- understanding what brings you here and what you would like to get from working together
- adapting working techniques in accordance to your needs
You are free to share as much information as you feel comfortable with. Each session we will discuss how best to work together that day, depending on how you are feeling and what has arisen since your previous appointment.
Depending on your circumstances, I may recommend that you seek the support of a counsellor or psychotherapist before we engage in some aspects of the work.
TRAUMA-INFORMED BREATHWORK AS A PROCESS
Trauma-informed means building up a relationship between practitioner and client. Clients are welcome to book for a single session to see whether they find the modality suits them. After that, it is preferable that they commit to a series of sessions so that we can establish a connection and build trust.
The defences that have been put in place are there for a reason, so much of the work will centre on encountering the defences via the body and working with them so that they can release when they are ready. I work slowly with people, helping them to experience what’s there, rather than trying to push through and get rid of whatever is coming up.
BREATHWORK AS A COLLABORATION
Trauma-informed breathwork is collaborative and you are an active participant in your own healing. I remind my clients that they can say “stop” or raise a hand at any moment if the intensity is too much. This can be an important step for people who are redefining their boundaries and who are learning to advocate for themselves in new ways by expressing what is and isn’t ok for them.
If you are thinking that you would like to work with me you can get in touch for a free discovery call to explore whether this work feels like a good fit for you.