Our Trauma Services
Beyond Barriers CIC was set up to address unmet needs in the mental health of our communities - particularly in the area of trauma. This page will explain a little more about how we are doing this and why it may be helpful to you. But first....
What do we mean by Trauma?
Trauma can mean different things for different people. The term itself does not necessarily fit for every one and you may want to describe things differently within our work. But, we understand it as this... When we go through something that shakes our sense of safety in the world around us, our mind and body do their best to cope with what it leaves us with and often life returns to normal after a period of time. For some people however, this doesn't ease and we can be left with feelings of fear, anxiety, loss, shame, worthlessness, sadness, a constant state of alert, and changes in our beliefs about ourselves and other people. We may sometimes re-live things or struggle with bad dreams and flashbacks which can be really distressing.
For other people, the trauma may have been present in their lives for long periods of time - perhaps within key relationships or involving adverse childhood experiences. It can often involve the absence of something - love, affection, security, nurturing, safety... which can be equally difficult without being caused by an 'obvious' trauma. When we experience adversity or trauma over long periods of time, or multiple times, this can be thought of as complex trauma. It can affect the way we experience emotions, the relationship we have with ourselves, and the way we relate to other people. Sometimes, the way our minds and body try to protects us from an ongoing sense of threat (hurt, rejection, abandonment, inadequacy for example) makes being in a relationship with people really tricky... Our attempts to manage this can even leave us with patterns of coping that create even more challenges beyond our original trauma. This is not our fault, and simply a reflection of what we've learnt during our best attempts to cope.
You may have heard different terms used to describe the impact of trauma, e.g. 'PTSD', ''C-PTSD, 'complex Trauma', 'Mixed anxiety & depression', and 'Personality disorder'. At Beyond Barriers, we are committed to reducing the over-medicalisation of trauma & adversity, so we do not generally use use psychiatric labels to understand people. However, we respect the language that people chose to describe their own experiences and work collaboratively with that. As described above, we don't see peoples response to trauma as 'disorders' or illnesses'. We see "symptoms" as understandable attempts to cope that need to be understood in terms of what's happened to a person. So whilst our trauma program therapies may follow a certain format, there is always space and flexibility in our approach to allow for peoples individual differences and preferences. We are mindful of choice and empowerment whilst acknowledging a persons needs.
Why do we believe that bodywork is so important in recovery from trauma?
During years of working with trauma using traditional psychological methods, the need to work with someone's physical experience of trauma became more and more apparent. People were overwhelmed or shut down by their sense of threat and struggled to engage with therapy. We needed something more than talking that helped people be present in the here and now. Our bodies and immune system get stuck in a state of threat, and we disconnect. We need to be able to reconnect with our body again, so that we can reconnect with ourselves and a therapeutic process in order to make sense of our experiences and heal.
Yoga can help us, as it allows us to notice our self, be present with feelings and quieten our self down. Yoga helps us to feel safe enough to experience our self and our feelings, even if it doesn’t feel good for a period of time. Integrating bodywork such as yoga into therapy can give us the courage to help us face our feelings that can feel frightening at first. So this needs to be done through regular practice with an understanding therapist who you trust, and who trusts that you can eventually establish your sense of ownership over your own body.
Bessel Van der Kolk has heavily influenced the integration of bodywork such as yoga in the treatment of trauma through in his book 'The Body Keeps the Score". He talks about the benefits of this work in this video
How do we support people to move beyond adversity and trauma?
We integrate effective approaches depending on your needs. You may be:
an individual seeking therapeutic support
an organisation seeking training or staff support
someone who wants to use their lived experience of managing trauma in restorative ways, such as volunteering or peer mentoring
community businesses wanting to become a 'trauma-sensitive' provider and/or part of an asset-based therapeutic community.
As well as individual therapy we are offering group therapy and a holistic complex trauma programme called LifeBEAT from summer 2020. These could be ideal for people with existing difficulties, as well as anyone who may have been left with post-traumatic stress difficulties after their experiences of CoVid19. Please have a look at our LifeBEAT page and feel free to get in touch for more information,
We are also developing a therapeutic network of 'trauma sensitive' organisations and resources - to help people access resources in the community they may otherwise avoid. We are growing this locally and hope that this can develop to incorporate a wide area and range of businesses - e.g., massage therapists, art classes, running groups, campaigning groups, choirs. Please take a look at our Trauma-Informed Communities page to see if you can support or benefit from this project, or get in touch with an idea.