I’ll admit… normally, I am the person who prefers taking online courses vs. in-person courses. I would much rather do things at my own pace (which is usually faster than everyone else [note: not always a good thing!]) and as an introvert, “people-ing” isn’t really my jam.
But I was SO excited to do the Advanced Trauma Recovery Coaching Certification in-person intensive despite all the reasons above.
I’m glad that I didn’t let my insecurities and fear get the better of me because the intensive was worth every bit of panic, anxiety, and tears.
I felt like I left the intensive with a lot more to learn about myself and my trauma than the content we covered. We spent a lot of time going into certain aspects of trauma, like family systems, locus of control, and of course, more specifically, the neurobiology and physical signs of trauma on the body. But we also spent time on how to help our clients become more resilient. More in control of their story, their destiny and their life goals.
One of my favorite sections of content we worked through was External Family Systems. It was developed by Dr. Murray Bowen and he attempts to explain the roles in a family by analogy of a solar system.
There is one sun, the start of the family’s system and everyone revolves around that member. [The sun can be a family member or it can be a value or belief system]. The closer a family member is to the sun, the greater their power. They are also the most likely to get burned by the proximity of the sun’s heat. On the other hand, the greater the distance from the Sun, the less power a family member will have.
I can TOTALLY see how this analogy rings true for not only my own families, but the families of friends and peers. What’s interesting though is that it’s not reserved only for nuclear or extended families. It rings true for unconventional families. Workplaces. Community Centers. Faith-Based Communities, Cultural and Ethnic Communities. This is not to say that every family in every situation experiences the harmful side of the solar system analogy. In fact, Bowen uses several factors when talking about whether a family system is “healthy” or “dysfunctional.”
Family members are motivated by two conflicting drives; to come together and to be independent. How these two drives operate within a family system are influenced by functional and dysfunctional relationships, family rules, family worldview, family beliefs and external forces.
This theory of family systems has led to some of the more familiar terms we hear when talking about family systems. The “scapegoat,” or the “lost child,” for example. There is SO much to unpack when it comes to Bowen’s Family Systems theory and if you’re interested in learning more, visit The Bowen Center website for a good starting place for your research.
Another favorite topic of mine that we covered was resilience. To me — this is the crux of everything we do and everything we stand for as Trauma Recovery Coaches. I believe the height of recovery is when a trauma survivor acknowledges and/or accepts their resilience. It takes them out of the path of “this happened to me” to a new path of “so what am I going to do about it?”
A few qualities that resilient trauma survivors often have (and what we, as Trauma Recovery Coaches aim to teach) can be grouped into things like:
Self-Worth: Knowing, understanding and demanding that we are worthy and we matter.
Self-Regulation: The ability to regulate our emotional or threat responses.
Internal Locus of Control: The ability to make decisions, react to, and judge things in our life by our own directives rather than being influenced or forced by external variables.
Connection to a Safe Support System: Having a healthy safe support system is one of the most important aspects of resilience. These safe support systems do not (and often aren’t) have to be family members. Having a healthy connection to another human being is often what makes the difference between a survivor that moves through their trauma recovery and those that remain stuck in their trauma.
Self-Awareness: This is the whole “the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is a problem.” Our trauma is not a problem per say, but it is something we have to acknowledge/accept in order to move forward. Knowing that we have work to do and being willing to do that work is half the battle. When we accept that we’re on a journey to recovery, we become self-aware and more resilient.
Reframing Narratives: This is one of the hardest but also one of the most important aspects to resiliency. This takes the framework of “everything is my fault. I’m a terrible human being. Everyone hates me. I should have done a, b, or c and I wouldn’t have to deal with x, y, z” to realizing that our interactions in the world often have very little to do with us on a personal level. So often, a human’s response to something is a reflection on them, not us. Being able to reframe a narrative is a sign of immense growth. Example:
Before resilience building: “My father beat me every night because I was a bad child. Sometimes, I was beaten because my father knew I would do something wrong the next day.”
After resilience building: “My father beat me because he was an alcoholic and saw me as a nuisance. Very rarely did I actually do anything wrong or bad and I never deserved to be beaten.”
See how much of a difference reframing the narrative makes? It shifts the power back to the survivor and places blame where it should be.
I could probably go on and on about all the the things I learned, regurgitating and giving my perspective on the content, but that’s not what this article is for. I wanted to give you a glimpse inside the world of what we’re learning as Trauma Recovery Coaches and what you can expect if you decide to become a Trauma Recovery Coach or if you decide to become a client of a Trauma Recovery Coach. Questions? Comment below or fill out this anonymous questionnaire I’ve set up to tailor my blog posts to what YOU want to learn!