November 7, 2021

The Kind of Help Individuals with Childhood Trauma Need.


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“You’re very lovable, sweetheart,” my therapist said to me over Zoom, as I sobbed in my chair yesterday.

“I just want someone to play with me. It’s all I have ever wanted.”

“I know, sweetheart. I know,” she said.

“Let’s pick someone to be with that little girl today. Who do you want it to be?”

I sat there continuing to sob for a while before whispering, “Michelle Obama.”

“Great choice,” she said.

I then asked if RBG could be my grandma. My therapist smiled, and said of course.

Something about the thought of these two women sitting with me briefly stopped my tears, and I looked up.

“Imagine Michelle Obama smiling at you, little one,” my therapist continued, directing her messages to the five-year-old frightened child inside me.

“She loves you so very much and would like to play with you. Walk around and look back. You’ll notice she never leaves.”

I imagine this and see a beautiful Michelle Obama smiling gently. Her brown eyes look at me the way the mothers of my clients look at their children—as if I am beautiful and I matter.

Soon, Michelle Obama begins to dance. She sways to some music and looks at me, waiting to see how I will respond.

I want to join in, but I’m scared, so I look up every once in a while and then look back down to avoid eye contact.

Later, another woman appears. The little girl doesn’t know who she is, but I do. It’s Ruth Bader Ginsberg (aka RBG).

She begins to dance too, and I nudge the little one inside me to look up again. The little one begins to giggle, and so do I. We still don’t dance, but something about the two women dancing together makes it easier to look up.

RBG then comes over and reaches out to the little girl to see if she’d like to be picked up, and she nods her head yes.

She begins to cry, digging her head into the chest of RBG. Rather than push her away, RBG holds her tighter and begins to rock her gently while Michelle Obama runs her fingers through her hair.

They never drop her.

They never push her away.

They just continue to be with her for as long as she needs, just as my therapist does with me.

There are no rules or regulating of any emotions.

There is no yelling, no judgments, and no expectations.

There is merely two women holding space for a hurt child and rocking her to sleep.

And she does.

She snores in fact.

They say people diagnosed with “Borderline Personality Disorder” benefit from emotional regulation therapy, such as DBT.

I disagree.

I think all they need is to be seen.

I think all they need is to be held, loved, and attuned to.

I am not a therapist, but I am someone with this painful hole that stems from childhood trauma, and I can attest to this kind of therapy being what is truly needed for this wound.

Trauma-informed care, IFS, Hakomi, Somatic Experience, and attachment-focused EMDR are what is needed for CPTSD/BPD. This is the road toward healing, not therapies that pathologize normal response to childhood abuse or clinicians who cast judgment and drop these clients.

It’s time to help these individuals with childhood trauma.

It begins by recognizing what happened to them and treating them with warmth and attunement.


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