TRAUMA AND CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY – SAFA KIMIYA HEALING
In this post I discuss the following: what trauma is and what it isn’t, when people tend to seek help, how craniosacral work integrates trauma in a meaningful and safe way, and what holistic integration looks like. The main point I make here is that rather than being an event or something to be released from the body, the trauma response is actually a unique internal process that began as an intelligent mechanism for survival and needs to be integrated back into the whole.
Trauma is our teacher, not our enemy.
What exactly is trauma?
Trauma is not an event that happens. Trauma is an internal response to external events.
It is an intelligent, individual and internal survival response that is dynamic and occurs on a spectrum of sensitization.
Trauma is an intelligent, individual and internal response born from a deep desire to survive
The trauma response, whether it’s fight or flight, is designed to keep us alive.
Let’s celebrate the intelligence in that. We are alive.
Defining trauma as a unique internal individual response or set of responses allows for individual differences as well as cultural, historical and social variance.
Integrating trauma is key to lasting resolution
We need to understand clients based on what is happening inside them rather than what has happened to them.
Rather than trying to release the survival mechanism or change it, it needs to be integrated. Integration means developing a new relationship with an aspect of our internal process.
For example: unique trauma response could be emotional avoidance or desensitisation and a tendency to retreat from the world which leads a person to hide in their cave. The person has learned that this keeps them safe when they are feeling threatened. Perhaps it did, when they were young and raised in a violent family, for example. Or where expressing their emotion got them told off. Now, as an adult, rather than keeping them safe, their reflex leads to a feeling of isolation and disconnection. But the response is automatic and unconscious. So what happens next?
Well, rather than bringing awareness to it, rather than encouraging a further adaptation or change in behaviour, we could start by bringing the person into a new relationship with their super skill – avoidance. How can avoidance become something healthy that facilitates their life rather than impairs it? Integration requires therapists to have to work spontaneously and creatively. What is avoidance, what does it offer? It is space? What happens within that space? How does the person relate to space? How do they want to relate to space? How can a therapist model safe space within a person’s body and within the therapy session in a way that allows it to be embodied phenomenology? How can it later be developed into an internal anchor. It is an art of human attunement and interaction, an alchemy, that can turn trauma responses into embodied inner resourcing. That is the work of craniosacral therapy.
When do people seek help?
Many people often only examine their internal landscape when they can’t take any more. They’re desperate. Nothing has helped.
This often looks like:
Shut down (flight) – Fleeing from themselves, Avoiding their own emotions
Life seems to stop: there’s a pervading feeling of numbness and disconnection or inability to really connect with others or their own children. They watch people laughing and wonder why they don’t feel the same joy. Sometimes they act to pretend it’s there but it never quite feels real to them. Their body doesn’t get a look in, it’s almost like it’s not there with them. Emotional responses are buried and suppressed. Life is lived from the mind, intellectualising every move.
Life gets unpredictable: it starts to feel like a series of blows to the stomach. It’s one thing after the other, a loss, a failure, an insurmountable challenge, a stuckness that won’t shift. There’s an inability to cope with what feels like a mountain of stuff. There’s a feeling of needing change but not knowing how to get it. Emotional responses are usually outbursts that then create further explosions leading to illness.
The above is simple. It’s the flight or fight response that people are used to referencing but actually don’t often recognise within themselves – because it’s happening all the time, on a spectrum.
When we shut down, the body is in flight. But it’s not running away from something, it’s running away from itself.
How can craniosacral therapy help?
Craniosacral therapy works with both the physical and the emotional. The obvious and the subtle. The seen and the unseen. The clear and the hidden. It works at a deeper level than you might want to even imagine.
At a physical level, attending to basic spinal integrity, fluid flow and organ vitality a person’s entire body can be brought back into balance. Sympathetic charge can be reintegrated so that it doesn’t overwhelm leading to a fight or flight. I use my hands to facilitate vertebrae which might be restricted, to lengthen fascia which has become compressed, to restore proper movement to bones at the base of your cranium or in your neck to release any nerve impingements that are affecting your body etc and much more. But this is just one aspect.
There is always an emotional component held in physical patterns of the body. By bringing clients into a space where they are able to see, feel, touch emotions which have been inaccessible to them, they are able to regain a lost sense of connection with their emotional world. By bringing in the feelings, which are often fear, grief, sadness, anger, etc, a new relationship can be established.
Rather than wishing their sense of hopelessness away, a client becomes aware of how they relate to hopelessness – maybe they hold it tight and bring it in every time they get a tough challenge to do at work, maybe it relates to something a teacher told them when they were young – we can’t make the feeling of hopelessness disappear – it’s just a feeling, but when we change our relationship with it, that’s when it becomes a super power. Hopelessness can therefore be a pathway to other feelings such as hope, self belief and empowerment.
A deep sense of empowerment is what I try to evoke in each of my clients.
Through Craniosacral work, the body-mind-spirit relationship is revisited. Clients feel more able to cope with the same triggers that arise without becoming overwhelmed or reverting to an old behaviour pattern because fundamentally their nervous system has been able to re-learn and re-experience safety and holding. Their relationships often improve as they become more spacious and allowing within themselves, of differences in others, and that they feel like they have more inner strength to bring to their life. A deep sense of empowerment is what I try to evoke in each of my clients.
Some feedback has been:
‘I could explore and face my inner demons. I am now more self-aware than ever before.’ ‘The session was able to assist a change in how I relate to myself.’
‘Learning what my body is capable of will stay with me forever’
‘I learned how to listen and heal my body and mind.’
‘The whole process has been bringing me an inexplicable amount of inner peace and calmness I have not experienced before.’
If you’re interested to try a session because you want to resolve your trauma, or know someone that could benefit please contact me on my website or email email@example.com. I work in North London and Mayfair. All our work together is confidential.