Mental Health Expert Offers Tools for Trauma
Hurricane Ian’s high winds and life-threatening storm surge left many of us traumatized and needing relief. Caroline Hofman, a Florida licensed mental health counselor and owner of Ascension Counseling, is extensively trained in mental health, specializing in trauma. She offers Natural Awakenings readers some protocols she uses for her private trauma practice clients.
Looking left and right
Sit or lie down. Keeping your nose straight ahead, look a far as possible to the left with the eyes as if you’re trying to look at your ear. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, until the body gives up a sigh, swallow or yawn. Return eyes to center and repeat on the right. Notice if it’s easier to breathe now.
When we are anxious, we can focus or concentrate to move out of our survival mode brain into our logical, cognitive brain. We can do this by focusing or concentrating on something. Some people do it with crossword puzzles, while others use adult coloring books, listening to music, watching sports or reading a book.
Simple breathing exercises are calming. Focus on breathing in while counting one, two, three, four. Breathe out slowly to the count of eight. Repeat.
Acknowledge five things you can see around you. Notice four things you can sense; your breath, the material of the clothes you are wearing, the phone in your hand, etc. Notice three things you can hear right now; your own voice, your husband or wife in the other room, a fan, running water. Notice two things you can smell. Notice one thing you can taste.
“Like the legendary Phoenix, people can rise from the ashes of their past by choosing to face their darkest moments and releasing the negative energies attached to them,” says Hofman, who is trained in multiple methods of trauma resolution and tailors her approach specifically to clients’ needs.
What is traumatic to you is traumatic
“No one can define your trauma for you. If something was (or is) traumatic for you, it is trauma. Even at a subconscious level, people still react to significant emotional events of their individual personal history, events which continue to be triggered today. This echo can happen in the form of persistent anxiety, panic attacks, depression or negative ('not good enough') beliefs about themselves which were learned through experiences. Each of my trauma therapy approaches allows for inner healing by revisiting and reprocessing past events in a safe environment, while diffusing and releasing repressed negative emotional energy,” explains Hofman, who uses Eye Movement Integration (EMI), Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) and Neuro-Linguistic programming (NLP) in hypnosis as her primary tools.
For individuals accustomed to including their metaphysical and spiritual beliefs into their healing process, Hofman is happy to do so without any judgement. Generally, Hofman’s primary tools can take significantly fewer sessions to work through trauma than other methods.
EMI is considered a neurotherapy. It utilizes the connection between Neuro-Linguistic programming (NLP) eye movements, and their connection to the recall or creation of information in the brain to rapidly resolve traumas. A demonstration can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd2Vn_mJcTU&t=1s.
EMI uses guided eye movements to assist an individual in accessing information files in all their multisensory, cognitive and emotional forms by “moving” the problematic item throughout the visual field to integrate and resolve distressing experiences and their problematic symptoms. Unlike Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which only uses linear, side-to-side eye movement, EMI uses upwards of 22 eye movements, allowing the brain to access many more resources to resolve the traumatic experience. Additionally, EMI is very effective in decision-making, or getting unstuck from a problem.
Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR)
TIR is a fast (compared to traditional therapy) method of effectively reducing traumatic stress from emotionally and/or physically painful events. It involves re-experiencing past traumas or unpleasant experiences in a completely safe environment, free of distractions, judgments or interpretations.
When something happens that is physically or emotionally painful, someone has the option of either confronting it fully and feeling the pain, or trying in some way to block the awareness of it. When an incident is repressed, it continues to exist as ongoing, unfinished business. Such traumatic incidents may continue to exert negative effects such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, low self-esteem and unhealthy relationship patterns. TRI provides a safe space and the means to fully examine that which had been blocked. In this process, individuals significantly shift in the way they view the incident and as a result, how they feel about it. When the event is fully processed, it no longer is stuck and is rarely ever triggered in the same way again.
Neuro-linguistic programming in hypnosis
Neuro (as in neurological) refers to what happens in the brain/mind. Linguistic refers to language; verbal and non-verbal (body language). Programming refers to behaviors we learn and become conditioned to repeat. NLP falls under the umbrella of hypnotherapy because an individual enters a trance (meditative) state during which they are fully aware and in control.
NLP in hypnosis uses permissive language which leaves the client in charge of the state of trance. A popular myth surrounding trance work is that the client is under the control of the hypnotherapist, but at no point during a session will an individual lose control of their mind. If someone hears a suggestion that they don't agree with or don't understand, their subconscious mind will automatically reject it. The relaxed trance state used in NLP allows the client to do inner child rescue, reparenting and other techniques.
For more information or to make an appointment call 239-758-0986 or email AscensionCounseling.net.