Safety first – a golden rule for trauma work

A while ago I went through a quite tough phase. A close friend of mine disappeared from one day to another. This triggered some severe trauma I had from my former boyfriend committing suicide and my demented dad being missing for months, before he was finally declared dead. Both incidents came seemingly out of the blue. One minute they were still there, the next they were dead. It was the unthinkable happening to me twice. And this made me anxious and suspicious for more drama happening in my life.

So when my friend vanished into thin air for several days, this situation merged with the emotional trauma from these past experiences. Even though I could mentally still distinguish and tell myself there was no proof at all for something bad happening, that it is just my past trauma being triggered, my emotions started spinning in a negative circle of loss, abandonment and despair. And after a while my mind started losing the game of thinking myself out of the pain.

Everyone I talked to about it told me that I am overreacting, that I should work on my past trauma and stop sinking in this irrational pain. Even in a chat with a fellow energy worker and healer, he told me to finally have a session on it and stop this pattern of victimhood and neediness. But I could not! I was in too much pain. I needed to feel safe first. I needed to be heard first. I needed to be understood first.

When they try to fix you…

So many people, even spiritual healers and trauma specialists, simply want to fix you. They believe they see the issue and know how to deal with it to make you feel better. But they do not acknowledge the fact that these traumatic emotions are real for you even if the current situation does not seem to justify them. They do not acknowledge the fact that you ARE in trauma the moment you feel it. That this is your current emotional reality.

I believe that engaging in trauma resolution, even if it is “just” on an energetic level, should only be performed when our most fundamental needs (physiological needs, safety and connection) are met first. Only in an environment of emotional stability should we start working on our core wounds. Jumping into a session without establishing an emotionally safe container can cause severe damage. And it is not self-loving to force ourselves into a session when we do not feel ready for it.

Safety is key for trauma work

In my work as a facilitator, safety is key for a successful session. And first and foremost, safety means connection; connection and validation of the emotional state the client is in. Your client feels if you genuinely care or if you just want to fix her. He feels if you are willing to hold space unconditionally or if you have a timer set on it. Once your clients begin to trust the connection and feel safe with you, they will open up more easily. Their walls will break and the process of finding resolution for the trauma will be so much more easy. This way, the session will be more gentle for both client and facilitator.

I finally managed to resolve my past trauma by talking to a friend who was simply listening with compassion and taking the emotions I went through seriously. He was holding space for me unconditionally and was validating the way I felt. This gave me the stability I needed to go into a session with a fellow practitioner to resolve the trauma. After almost two weeks of pain and suffering, of not being understood and entering a spiral of negative emotions, his unconditional presence helped me to find resolution within a few hours! – And emotional safety was the key.