Heal Trauma and Overwhelm and Learn Self Care Methods
‘I liked Spike’s gentle, caring and intuitive approach. She clearly has a lot of experience and I feel confident to recommend her to anyone who wants to work with not only trauma but also to learn about how to tune better to the body. I think this can potentially be a life-changing opportunity and I am so happy I gave it a go.’ – HA London
‘Sessions with Spike have been more impacting on my well-being than I could have imagined. The first session I arrived for TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises) I was in a really dysregulated state. Spike made me feel understood and at ease right away, and by the end of the session I felt so safe in my own body, I wanted to cry tears of relief.’ – JB
When we find something too much – or too little – to cope with and fully recover from, it could be called a trauma. When we’re overwhelmed, we can’t meet our experiences in an empowered way. Broadly, emotional traumas fall into three types: shock trauma, developmental trauma and inherited trauma.
Shock trauma could result from a sudden overwhelming event such as a car crash, a natural disaster, or an attack; developmental trauma might occur when painful experiences are too much for us during childhood, and inherited trauma is trauma that is transferred from previous generations, such as when a pregnant woman’s stress levels alter biological markers in her unborn baby. Adults living through ongoing stressful events may also experience a range of emotional and physiological symptoms of trauma. This is sometimes called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
How I work with trauma
My aim is first of all to help you to feel safer and more at ease in your body, so that you can go on to learn how to grow greater mental resilience and inner resources. Compassion, and particularly learning the skill of self-compassion, has been shown to be fundamental to trauma healing, and to have remarkably beneficial effects. Whatever other methods we choose, a compassion-based approach is always central to my way of working.
Alongside TRE (tension, stress and trauma release exercises), I offer positive neuroplasticity, embodied healing, body mapping, methods to clear dissociation and relational touch in order to heal trauma. These are skills-based practices rather than therapy in the traditional sense. If you feel you would also benefit from a psychological approach – for example to explore and understand developmental hurts – I can refer you to a trauma specialist. For some people, incorporating psychological therapy alongside my bodymind approach yields the best results for the most difficult to resolve issues.
Key methods I use for trauma healing
TRE® (Tension, Stress and Trauma Release Exercises)
TRE (Tension, Stress & Trauma Release Exercises) is a fabulous, gentle process that can help you manage anything from mild stress and tension through to trauma. Once you’ve learnt how to do it, you can practise safely in the comfort of your home as and when you wish, to relieve tension, stress and trauma whenever and however they manifest in your life.
I am a Certified TRE Provider, trained by the TRE College. I can teach you how to do TRE on a one to one basis, or you can come with a friend, relative or partner and learn together. If you like, we’ll include other methods too, such as light touch or positive neuroplasticity, to enhance the effectiveness of the session.
TRE (Tension, Stress & Trauma Release Exercises) is an innovative series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. Created by Dr David Berceli, TRE safely invites a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, your body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance.
TRE is based on the fundamental idea, backed by recent research, that stress, tension and trauma is both psychological and physical. TRE’s reflexive muscle vibrations generally feel pleasant and soothing. After doing TRE, many people report feelings of greater peace and wellbeing.
TRE emerged out of Dr. David Berceli’s work with large traumatized communities while living in Africa and the Middle East. His observation and exploration led him to understand that this natural shaking/vibrating response appears to be the body’s own built-in system for quieting down the brain and releasing muscular tension as a way of healing itself from chronic stress, tension and trauma.
TRE has helped many thousands of people globally. TRE is a safe and effective stress release technique for most people, and I have taught the process to people with a wide range of physical and mental health issues. If you have a complex history of trauma or major physical or medical limitations, feel free to contact me before booking a session to see what would benefit you most.
More about healing trauma
Traumas, large and small, affect different people in different ways. We may feel constantly hyperaroused; restless, irritable, anxious and speedy, or we may be hypoaroused; depressed, numb, lethargic and spaced-out, or we may have a combination of symptoms. Fortunately, with the right tools we can not only recover, we can grow even greater resilience so that we really flourish. As a species we’ve evolved to do exactly this.
Safety and well-being are experiences we can train ourselves to feel more of by using lots of different skills and good habits. These might include spending time with kind, trusted people who help us to feel connected; being in nature; being playful and creative; learning new things, and moving in varied and natural ways each day. In addition, exploring the milder, neutral, subtle or even boring sensations in our bodies so that they become more present alongside the noisier, discordant alarm signals can really start to bring about beneficial changes. Helping you to get in touch with these sensations is a cornerstone of my approach.
‘Being in a body without chronic tension patterns and a sensitized brain will lead us to being happier and healthier.’ Steve Haines, Trauma is Really Strange.
Becoming grounded to clear dissociation
‘Grounded’ means that you can feel your butt in the chair, see the light coming through the window, feel the tension in your calves, and hear the wind stirring in the tree outside.’ – Bessel Van der Kolk
Dissociation, or withdrawing from our sense of ourselves or our connection with the world around us, is a protective mechanism that can be triggered by overwhelm. Sometimes that floaty feeling makes people mistake dissociation for a spiritual experience; it can feel pleasantly dreamy, even euphoric. Or it can just feel weird, numb or spaced out, or like you’re dealing with the world from behind a glass wall. You could say it’s the opposite of interoception, of being grounded in your body.
This level of dissociation is probably harmless in the short term, but over time, in bigger doses, checking out can get pretty alarming. A friend of mine who used to dissociate a lot once told me that the reason she deliberately put on weight and carried a heavy bag was so that she wouldn’t feel like she was floating away all the time.
‘The stone still animal is not pretending to be dead. It has instinctively entered an altered state of consciousness shared by all mammals when death appears imminent… Physiologists call this the immobility or freezing response. It is the single most important factor in uncovering the mystery of human trauma.’ Peter Levine
When you’re dissociated, your nervous system doesn’t quite know where all of your body is, and it becomes difficult to maintain the optimal level of tissue tone. Your system may send out even more protective signals of pain, stress and anxiety, and, worst case scenario, it might even trigger mechanisms that fight against your own tissues, causing inflammation and other immune system issues. So clearing dissociation is really good news. Again, it’s worth approaching this little by little with another trustworthy human so that you learn to be more present in your body in stages that are comfortable for you.
‘Touch is effective because it creates qualities of safety and embodiment and changes how our nervous system works. If we get it right, if we do relational, supportive non-doing touch, we can help people feel more connected; we help switch off the physiological reflexes that got activated by overwhelm.’ Steve Haines
Things to try
Feeling grounded and embodied in the present moment in order to clear dissociation is a skill that can be practised. Take a good look around you and notice your environment, especially stuff you find attractive and pleasing. A good balance of light awareness on our insides, attention to the outside world, and an ongoing sense of our physical contact with our environment is a great way to feel grounded and present.
There are also benefits to be had from the skilful practice of things like yoga or meditation, but avoid techniques that make you feel disconnected, hazy, or distorted – in that case you may be dissociating.
If you’re feeling scared, unnerved or agitated, try taking a breath in, then do a long, soft exhalation, making a ‘vooo’ sound that vibrates in your body. One more time feel your body weight pressing into whatever you’re sitting on. Look around, register again that you’re basically ok right now.
Sometimes doing something to meet your most basic physical needs can help create a positive shift. Perhaps get yourself a drink of water or a cuppa; put on a favourite jumper; have a pee. Notice these small, mild, safe achievements. They make us human.
When you come for a session, we’ll work together to build your sense of safety, comfort and ease in ways that work for you. Remember, as a species we’re designed to bounce back and grow even more resilient after trauma. You really can build the resources you need to heal.