What does it mean to be 'Trauma Informed'

Life Coaching in its many forms has been working to help people achieve their life goals for decades. It’s powerful. However, there have always been clients who got stuck or simply could not get the results they wanted and often embark on a life-long, endless search for therapists or courses to try and get to the root of what might be stopping them.

For many people, it affects their self- esteem when they are unable to break habits of turning to food for comfort, a glass of wine to feel less pressure and stress, or finding themselves overworking or feeling forced to help everyone else to avoid feeling guilty. In many cases it was the disappointment or intense pain of relationships that cause the most stress.

Difficult relationships can be an indication of historic ACE’s (adverse childhood experiences) and trauma. If interactions with bosses, colleagues, friends, parents, siblings, or your own children feel strained or awkward or volatile and trigger strong reactions, we can just dismiss it as everyday life and it just becomes our 'normal', which keeps us in a cycle of resigned stuckness.

When those frustrations persist, it impacts our wellbeing. For decades coaches have used tools to help clients as best they can, but they did not have the know-how to really get to the true cause of some of these patterns, until now.

In 1998 a ground-breaking study carried out by Dr Vincent Felitti and Robert Anders clearly demonstrated the inextricable link between the level of adversity and trauma experienced in childhood and the illnesses that emerge in adults. In fact, further studies have shown the direct correlation between the number of childhood stressors and unprocessed traumas have proven to be accurate predictors of major illnesses, such as heart disease, strokes and cancers as well as being linked to a much higher incidence of auto immune conditions and misunderstood multi -faceted illnesses that include Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

If we have had a childhood, we have experienced adversity.

A trauma informed wellbeing coach will have an in depth understanding of the kinds of adversity experienced and how this can impact the way a child’s brain and nervous system develop. They recognise that often quite normal situations will register as an internal threat or small ‘t’ trauma in an adult’s life, if as a child they were exposed to an environment where they didn’t have their needs met or lacked the support they required. As in any difficult situation we humans are resourceful and will have found something to do or not do, in order to cope. This can be online shopping, retail therapy or spending hours on our phones or Netflix, escaping how we really feel.

Can you relate to any of those?

Many of these coping mechanisms have become automatic and explains why more and more adults who find that they are caught up in frustrating repeating cycles of procrastination, avoidance or reaching for a substance or habit, instead of being able to move forward and achieve their goals or experience peace of mind. Most adults go through life unaware of how old unprocessed grief or trauma is impacting them on a daily basis.

This is where working with a coach who is not just accredited but trauma informed, is essential.

They are skilled in recognising the repercussions and links between what you are experiencing now and where those patterns may have been formed, and most importantly how to support you best in releasing unconscious, unprocessed traumas that are stored in the body, creating symptoms and obstacles to your emotional and physical wellbeing.

When you choose your wellness coach do check out the following things:

· Are you a trauma informed accredited wellness, wellbeing or health coach?

· Do you have specific resources to assess my ACE and Trauma needs?

· Do you have regular Mentoring / Supervision for trauma informed work?

· Do you have regular CPD in your field?

· Do you have resources so I can understand and learn more about ACE and Trauma?

· Do you have an understanding of how different therapeutic interventions work?

· Do you work as part of a comprehensive multi-disciplinary trauma informed team so that if I need a specific type of therapy to support my wellbeing goals you can refer or signpost?

Small ‘t traumas do not fall into the category of car crashes or being caught up in a dangerous war zone. Small ‘t’ traumas are those events or situations that we feel helpless in and overwhelm our nervous system. So it’s easy to see why as children we do not have the resources to deal with the family situations that we faced in childhood; controlling parents, the loss of a beloved parent, sibling, grandparent or friend, being separated from a place, divorce and many more.

Growing up in a home with this creates a low level of ongoing toxic stress, which affects how we see ourselves in the world, whether we feel confident to try new things or hold ourselves back from. It also determines how easy or challenging we find our close relationships.

How common are ACE’s?

70% of adults have experienced ACE’s and a large proportion of those affected live with the impact every day, experiencing struggles with procrastination, difficulty in relationships with families and significant others. Unprocessed grief, trauma and adversity impacts every aspect of who we become as adults.

This has taken some time to filter through into our healthcare services, which are based on an acute disease model. This conventional model tends to focus on treating physical symptoms rather than exploring the underlying and often hidden causes of ill health.

The great news is that whole nations are now becoming ACE and Trauma aware to intercept the damaging effects that manifest in adults decimating health. The movement started in America and is spreading worldwide. In the UK, Scotland is a leading ACE aware nation, which has created a totally integrated approach to its citizens health with regard to their ACE history. This has infiltrated the fabric of their nursery, primary and secondary education sector, their health and social care, NHS provision and their policing and legal sector. Being an ACE aware nation is legislated for at government level, which has meant that children and young people can be fully supported and provided the tools to help overcome these adversities for a better future and healthier society.

This is leading the way for providing a 21st century approach to the welfare of our people.

To find out more about how I can help you start to overcome your childhood adversities, get in touch now to book a free discover call

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