The healing journey starts with self-awareness.
When a situation occurs that is too painful to deal with, or traumatic memories surge, those triggers cause automatic survival responses. Avoidance and denial are the most basic human defense mechanisms. They are built in survival drives. Survivors of PTSD often remark how when they are in the traumatic situations, they “suit up” and get through it like a Fighter, a Warrior, a Ninja. The fight or flight state is an almost constant for some survivors of PTSD. It is only later when in a safe place, physically and emotionally, that the effects of the trauma tend to break through the conscious awareness.
After narcissistic abuse, a survivor with PTSD can often go years and decades undiagnosed, not seeking help, or seeking help only for the symptoms and not the overall cause of the devastating holistic effects. Many of the secondary symptoms of PTSD like depression, anxiety, migraines, eating disorders, alcoholism and addiction, chronic pain, and tension can be confused as the cause of the individual’s suffering. Until the cause is addressed, the trauma festers like an untreated wound. Trauma only survives in the darkness, in what is hidden. The more it is brought into awareness and transmuted into insights, passion and purpose, the more relief a survivor can feel as well as more empowered and connected to self and others.
The integration of the trauma/s causing PTSD is accomplished over time. The path to recovery is also not clear cut, much as in the spectrum of grief and loss. There can be breakthroughs and set backs along the path and sometimes a survivor is at different stages in different areas of his/her life. For example, a survivor might be doing really well in life outlook, work, and self-care but still struggling in relationships.
With PTSD, there is no chronological, perfectly choreographed plan for recovery. There are times when symptoms are stabilized and it’s important not to confuse that with full recovery. There will likely be times when another fall into a devastating situation happens until the root is dug out and it’s important for the survivor not to beat him/herself up for it. It’s equally important for the survivor’s support network not to lose faith or give the person a hard time for falling again.
Recovery is measured, not by no longer having relapses but, by a gradual reduction in the frequency of those relapses and the amount of time it takes the survivor to recover each time. It is possible to transform from surviving to thriving!
The movement away from PTSD can become more of a dance.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommends coaching as a complement to psychotherapy and describes how coaching can play an important role in your health and wellbeing. In this link you’ll also learn about some of the differences between coaching and psychotherapy.
From the ADAA ON COACHING
Many people experience periods of anxiety or depression, so it is important to remember that you are not alone. Seeking support and encouragement during a difficult time is a critical first step, and it can be challenging. Coaching is a method that can be helpful for those who live with a mental illness. It offers encouragement and help for those whose anxiety, depression, or other illness does not prevent them from engaging in daily activities.
Coaching is not the same as treatment for anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, and PTSD. Although it can be helpful, people who feel overwhelmed by their symptoms, those who repeatedly encounter the same problems, and especially those who experience suicidal thoughts or urges should always seek the care of a licensed mental health professional. They are in need of more complex assessment and treatment.
Coaching can play an important role in your well-being and recovery. If you’re receiving treatment from a licensed mental health provider, a coach may be a valuable addition to managing your symptoms. Coaches are available in person, over the phone, and online.
Coaching or Psychotherapy: What’s the Difference?
The goal of both coaching and psychotherapy is to help people who are suffering from symptoms of anxiety disorders, stress, OCD, PTSD, and depression. Although they may employ similar skills and tools, coaching and psychotherapy are very different.
Coaches do not diagnose or provide treatment. Coaching is an educational process that may help people, especially those with mild symptoms. For example, a coach might motivate a client to exercise or improve sleeping habits to overcome a mood or anxiety disorder, but this is not treatment. A coach should refer their clients for therapy if they are experiencing depression, anxiety disorders, and other illnesses of clinical intensity. Coaching as a form of treatment is not well-studied.
By definition, psychotherapy is treatment. It makes use of techniques and remedies to relieve disorders categorized in the DSM-5, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Most forms of psychotherapy have many years of research behind them, proving that they are effective treatments for anxiety and mood disorders.
A therapist might refer a patient to a coach for more frequent contact, as well as help in following through on the therapeutic goals. Working together, a coach and therapist can complement each other’s work to make sure that all the needs of the patient get addressed
A therapist is a mental health professional who has an advanced degree in psychology, psychiatry, social work, counseling, nursing, or other disciplines and who holds a current license to practice. Therapists are trained to diagnose and treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, and OCD using evidence-based treatments, such as CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), IPT (interpersonal psychotherapy), or other type of psychotherapy. Some therapists can also prescribe medication. Although licensed mental health providers may employ coaching techniques, this is just one part of the therapy process.
Therapists are bound by state and federal laws governing the treatment of people with mental illness. Different licensing bodies require that professionals pursue continuing education credits, as well as ethics and other training. A licensed therapist must follow a code of ethics and function under a board that oversees the services provided, which gives patients a level of protection. Therapy is covered by HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act), the federal law that keeps your personal health information private. Treatment from a therapist is often covered by insurance.
A coach is someone who has received training to help clients reach specific goals and capitalize on their strengths. Coaches can become certified in many areas, including health and wellness, personal, business, career, financial, relationships, substance abuse, and others. But they are not required to hold an advanced degree or a license in their state. Coaching is not regulated, and state licensing boards have no oversight. Universities and colleges do not offer advanced degree training programs for coaches.
Coaches do not diagnose or treat mental illness, and they may not be able to identify when to refer a patient for medication. But they can be of significant help to those who suffer with mental illness by helping them learn certain skills and abilities. Coaches may use some of the same skills and tools as therapists or counselors. Before working with a coach, ask about his or her training to learn if it will meet your needs. Because coaching is not part of formal health care or evidence-based treatment, services are not covered by HIPAA.
Questions to Ask a Coach
- What training has the coach received? Coaches are not required to hold licenses or receive education and training specifically in mental health, although they may receive certification in health and wellness.
- Can the coach or coaching service diagnose my problem? No, a coach does not necessarily have the training necessary to diagnose mental illnesses.
- How will the coach help me achieve my goals? Ask questions about the techniques and exercises offered, including how they are customized to your needs.
- Can the coach prescribe medicine? No, coaches cannot prescribe medication, and they may not be able to identify when a patient needs a referral for medication.
- Does health insurance reimburse coaching? In most cases, coaching for mental health is not covered by insurance. Check with your specific policy.
- Will my communications and records be confidential? Ask how records are maintained. Federal regulations of privacy covered by HIPAA do not apply to coaching.
My qualifications for coaching people with PTSD
I have over two decades of experience training and working in the holistic healing arts. My core approach to wellness has always been the mind-body-spirit connection. I focus on spiritual healing, emotional balancing, movement and food as medicine. I have trained in the holistic healing arts with various teachers and institutions in the USA, Mexico and Peru.
I have walked my own journey. I survived. I “get it.” I have valuable insights into the complex mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical symptoms of the human response to this particular trauma. My personal understanding comes from childhood, relationships, Near Death Experience, psychedelic medicine journeys, and being the go-to for countless people who have told their own stories of trauma over the years.
Those who seek my help remark how easy it is to talk with me, how almost effortlessly I help them get clarity about the emotional suffering they’re trying to deal with. I help people cultivate states of inner peace, empowering them with strategies and practices they can immediately apply in their life so they can start taking steps forward.
Recovery and Freedom from PTSD requires a foundation of: 1) Truth 2) Safety and 3) Compassion. Once that is established, anything is possible. Truth and full disclosure with oneself and those from whom the survivor seeks help is of utmost importance. The trauma lives in what is hidden, avoided, denied, and not spoken.
I provide an atmosphere of non-judgmental truth so people can feel more at ease to speak of the unspeakable. Safety is both external and internal. It is important for the survivor to live and work in places that feel physically safe and to feel safe in their body. It is equally important to be surrounded by people who are emotionally safe. It is important for survivors of PTSD to create a support network of loving, truth-seekers and to reach out for professional support from therapists, counselors, coaches, and other holistic practitioners such as acupuncturists, naturopaths, etc. Each person is unique and will know which modalities and professionals are helping the most for their particular healing and recovery process. I help people maneuver this process.
Healing is possible. PTSD is not healed instantly and in the most severe cases may never entirely heal, though miraculous breakthroughs can occur at points along the journey. Mostly it is a slow journey of healing with gradual and consistent transformation. It can get better and better.
It’s important to understand that one session will not resolve everything. Sometimes people prefer to have a session and then take time to go work on things, and other times people prefer to have a commitment to ongoing sessions in order to do deeper and more intensive work during difficult times.
My coaching sessions entail a process to help individuals in the following ways:
- Empathic understanding and wholehearted listening from someone who “gets it”
- Motivational questioning to help you unwind and process emotions and feelings
- Guided inventory to ensure your emotional and physical safety (body, thoughts, habits, people, places, situations)
- Identifying the key insights that can be extracted from the trauma and pain
- Rebuilding self-esteem practices to help you engage intentionally with reality
- Empowerment strategies to help you take control of your body and emotions
- Revealing and/or renewing your inner passion and purpose
My purpose is to be a compassionate, fierce, truth-seeking witness and ally for you to speak of the unspeakable in order to process the difficult emotions and experiences, while empowering you to integrate the insights extracted from the trauma so you can reconnect with life and thrive with a renewed sense of passion and purpose moving forward.