Updated: Oct 20
The concept of "therapy" can be intimidating, eliciting feelings of worry and anxiety while also inspiring emotions of hope and excitement. The act of seeking therapy signifies that you have come to a pivotal moment in your life, a point where you're ready to evolve from the coping mechanisms of the past and embrace the development of a more resilient, empowered version of yourself. While the ultimate goal of therapy is progress, it's essential to recognize that this journey is not without its challenges. Therapy is a transformative period of self-discovery, deliberate intentionality, and personal accountability. Understanding what therapy can offer is crucial because it varies significantly from person to person, often depending on the therapist you work with and the level of connection each person develops with their therapist. Therapy sessions can encompass a spectrum, from heartfelt conversations to engaging in-depth activities. Regardless of the model of therapy employed or the therapist you're working with, all therapy styles have the same objective; helping you accomplish your goals and grow as a person. By the end of this read, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how certain therapy approaches, such as trauma-informed care, can empower you to thrive.
The Strength-Based Lens: Unpacking Trauma-Informed Care
Let's begin with a powerful perspective shift - one that views therapy through the lens of your inherent strengths. Trauma-informed care, in essence, aims to foster healing and recovery environments that actively avoid re-traumatization. Within this approach, clinicians recognize the profound influence of your life experiences, including past traumas. Rather than dwelling solely on your present self, trauma-informed care encourages a holistic view of your journey, acknowledging the impact of both your past and current circumstances. At its core, trauma-informed care embraces five guiding principles, each rooted in recognizing and harnessing your innate strengths:
1. Client Empowerment: This principle places your strengths at the forefront, empowering you to actively engage in your healing journey. It highlights the importance of building resiliency by drawing on your inherent abilities.
2. Choice: Informed decision-making becomes a cornerstone of your therapy. You have the freedom to make choices about your treatment process, fostering a sense of control and agency.
3. Collaboration: The therapeutic journey is a team effort. You, your healthcare providers, and your support network work collaboratively to craft both the organizational and treatment aspects of your care.
4. Safety: Ensuring your physical, mental, and emotional safety is paramount. This principle creates a nurturing environment where you can explore and heal without fear.
5. Trustworthiness: Clarity and trust in your therapy are vital. It is imperative that you are informed about the expectations of your proposed treatment, the people who will provide these services, and how you will receive care, ensuring transparency over the course of your journey in therapy.
The Personalized Path: Tailoring Trauma-Informed Activities to Your Strengths
One of the beautiful aspects of strength-based therapy is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Let's explore this further with the example of Mindfulness Practice, which encourages you to connect with the present moment. Your journey might involve silent meditation and deep breathing exercises, allowing you to regulate your emotions and thoughts. Alternatively, if you're creatively inclined, therapeutic activities might revolve around expressive outlets like drawing or songwriting, where you can transform your thoughts and feelings into art.
However, trauma-informed care is rooted in understanding that for some individuals who have endured specific traumas, regulated breathing may initially feel daunting. A lifetime spent in fight, flight, or freeze mode can make slow, deep breaths seem challenging. That's okay. Your therapist will meet you where you are, honoring your unique pace. Creative activities might not resonate with everyone, especially if past criticisms or doubts impact your creativity. Your journey is about progressing at your own pace, on your terms.
Ultimately, trauma-informed care is a highly adaptable approach, tailored to your strengths and needs. Remember that your trauma narrative is uniquely yours, and your therapist is your partner, walking alongside you on your path to healing. As a clinician, the focus is on meeting you where you are, adjusting treatment plans, resources, and referrals as needed to ensure that you receive equitable, quality, and holistic care. Your strengths are the foundation of your therapeutic journey, and it's a journey of growth, resilience, and empowerment.