Oftentimes when strangers ask what I do for a living to make small talk and they find out I’m a trauma therapist, they like to open up and share their experience of therapy or briefly empathizing with trauma. I’ll never forget the time I met a young black woman sharing her experience of therapy with me and she has been attempting her own healing. She shared that she wanted to connect with her ancestors and that when she shared this with her counselor, her counselor thought she had psychosis. I don’t usually react, but this was both shocking and painful to hear. Her counselor made her feel like something wrong with her for wanting to connect to their ancestors, which is part of her culture heritage and natural for her to want to do. The field of counseling has a long way to go in understanding trauma healing and ancestral trauma. Trauma is an experience that is dynamic and unique to every individual. Trauma healing oftentimes can be just as unique.
Trauma Therapy Isn’t Just For Your White Friend
Recently, a counselor colleague shared with me that he only refers clients that need help with trauma to people that are certified in EMDR because too many people go outside of the protocol. This is a common thing I hear among my counselor colleagues who feel loyal to the method of counseling they were trained in, oftentimes not realizing how they are limiting themselves and their clients. I want them to understand that protocols and research only go so far. That the work we do requires us to share our own energy to help healing occur and therapy requires in an integrative approach that doesn’t just rely on protocol, but on our own experiences, intuition, and attuning to our clients feelings. This is the way that many cultures and communities healed in the past. To these counselors and to the BIPOC people turned away from healing by their own therapist, I say this..Trauma Therapy Isn’t Just For Your White Friend. There are multicultural counselors who get it and want to support your journey, who don’t believe you are psychotic for wanting to heal in a way that doesn’t fit the “protocol.”
It’s Time For a Serious Wave of Healing for BIPOC people. Here’s How Trauma Can Affect Your Health.
The ancestral trauma that continues to repeat every generation has left us feeling alone when we should know we belong to our communities. We feel sick because our bodies continue to keep score of the pain we hide and as we continue to be the model minority. Suppressing those traumas generation after generation shows up in other ways. Trauma can cause genetic mutation that is passed down for 4 generations. Here’s an into to generational trauma. It can show up on our bodies in the form of autoimmune disorders, aches and pain, weight gain, heart disease that can lead to stroke and dementia. It can cause you to feel disconnected from your body and you feelings. It can show up in the form of anxiety and in our relationships, where we might people please to the point of feelings we are losing ourselves. Read more about it here.
Trauma Therapy Has Been Around For As Long As Mankind Has Existed
Yes, some scientist labeled it as EMDR therapy or Somatic Therapy after they figured out the science behind healing our nervous systems. But, it has always been in our nature to seek relief. Before there were labels, there were healing circles. There were rituals. There was dancing, art, and poetry – do you remember how you felt when Amanda Gordon’s words shook you to your core? There were spiritual journeys to different lands where prayer and meditation took place, where the experience allowed you to meet yourself at your core. Where your tribe held the space for you to grieve and shed your pain. They created the experience to allow you to look at the trauma from above and from within. There were healing communities and medicine women that chanted and dislodged the pain. There were elders who laid hands and tribes who banged on drums and fire danced.
These Were The Original Trauma Therapists
These weren’t just art forms. We now know that the vibrations of humming and chanting can induce a state of calm that can pivot our of fight or flight mode to our rational mind. And that bilateral movement and rhythm from dancing and playing drums can heal trauma, calming the nervous system much like with EMDR. We know that because our brains have plasticity that these methods can heal the survival brain to ease the anxiety associated with our stress response. We now know that movement can break up the trauma that is stored in your bodies and that we as people heal in pacts. It’s time to reconnect to our traditional healing ways where you and I become the tribe. Where we use an integrative counseling approach that connects mind and body so that what you know to be true goes deeper to believing it to be true. Where I hold a sacred space for you to heal and we create a meaningful experience as I carry you along your journey to meet yourself at your deepest level. And this becomes your protocol. Trauma-therapy that roots back to our ancestors, the type of healing that was taken away or disappeared due to circumstances. Healing is not reserved only for some people. Healing is not a racial thing, it’s a human thing. With everything we have been through, it’s a time for healing. Curious to learn more about how it works? Connect with me here.
As a BIPOC multicultural trauma-informed therapist in Atlanta, GA, I am offering online counseling and healing across Georgia.
Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC
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