Contrary to popular belief, intensive trauma therapy doesn’t have to mean digging deeper into the most painful parts of your life. Perhaps you’ve spent years in therapy exploring your problems only to feel like a hamster on a treadmill – working hard and getting nowhere.

Traditional therapy often begins with an assumption that a problem with you needs to be fixed. Insurance companies require a diagnosis code to bill them for psychotherapy furthering this emphasis on you having or being a problem.

What if we flip the script on trauma therapy? How about we consider the systems that have conspired to bring you to this point in your life? Instead of seeing the hamster as responsible for not making progress while on the treadmill, how about we investigate the hamster’s environment? The hamster has always been in a cage with no escape or even the awareness that escape is a concept. Furthermore, the treadmill is all the hamster has ever known as a movement.

Intensive trauma therapy and understanding your limits

When we step back and notice how the environment and systems have conspired to create the situation where the hamster can’t make progress, the question changes from what is your diagnosis and what can I do to fix you to a question of how can I support you in discovering possibilities and playing with them.

Intensive trauma therapy becomes a generative, thereby creative process. You are no longer defined by what is wrong or bad about you, rather, you discover your path of liberation from the cage of complex trauma.

It is not true that intensive trauma therapy must be painful to be effective. You already know pain very well. You don’t need to explore your pain more and learn to cope with it; you need to learn how to not be the problem.

You need to see your capacities and values; focus on the things that nourish you; find comfort amid unknowns and possibilities; trust yourself to handle what you notice; and learn to imagine, play and create.

Find the right trauma therapist

Seek a therapist who can help you see the context of the friction you experience in your life. Find a trauma therapist who shows you that you can nourish yourself through the process of seeing the cultural, institutional, and personal factors contributing to your pain and suffering more completely (it can be ugly, so nourishment is essential).

Therapy for complex trauma involves practicing everyday activism through radical self-care and recognizing more and more nourishment. You don’t have to accept the systems and the context for your pain; you are not the problem.

You can learn to curate your life in a way that offers you purpose toward changing those systems that conspire against you. This is where you will find the center of you.

Laura Bruco, MSW is a Seattle-based trauma therapist specializing in all the outcomes of trauma. She and her staff create a safe, encouraging environment where you can be authentic, discover your feelings, acquire new coping skills for dealing with trauma and begin your journey to recovery. Schedule a free 20-minute consultation on our website today.