So What Is Trauma Informed Herbalism?
Any services which identify as being 'trauma informed,' seek to both recognize and reduce the likelihood that a person who has experienced trauma gets re-traumatized in accessing help.
Being 'trauma informed' means that all aspects of services have been examined to help minimize/prevent further isolation, disempowerment and harm. The very recognition that services which are designed to help someone can actually traumatize them/make them worse is very recent and thank goodness for all the clinicians and mental health workers who dared speak this truth to authorities. it is important to note that most inquiry into trauma and mental health were done in the same dominant cultural norms that plague the whole of modern culture, and so looking at these structures and cultural norms (such as white supremacy, cis-hetero and gender binaries, patriarchy and capitalism, etc.) as influencing what help is even offered and how it is offered is important. So is looking at how mental health, trauma and the goals of treatment are defined as well.
The growing field of research challenging many of the things we have been taught about mental health, our bodies and how we heal is creating a deeper dialogue among professionals about how best to serve folks who are struggling with ingrained patterns of survival lingering from unresolved trauma. Its a challenging and exciting time. Because I have experienced re-traumatization in the care of folks who have little to no understanding of trauma, I wanted to make sure my herbal practice was specifically focused on reducing stigmatization, reducing the 'expert vs. client' power differential and transparent.
I am not a mental health clinician, nor do I want to be one. I LOVE my ability to work as a facilitator between people and plants. I have done an intense amount of research on trauma and have my own experiences which inform my understanding of how trauma can be disruptive to a healing relationship. Sadly, we can be re-triggered by someone/something that should be supportive. Here is a general breakdown of trauma informed services:
And to decrease:
- power over, authoritarian and 'expert' relationships
- secrecy/lack of clarity/confusion
- fears of judgement
- marginalization & aggressions based in racist, classist, sexist, ageist, able-bodied, cis-gender and hetero-normative stereotypes and cultural lenses
- placing needs of provider of support over receiver of support
- focus on 'diagnosis,' symptoms and overgeneralizing
They seek to increase:
- autonomy and authority over self and body
- support and safety in accessing services
- person centered responses
- unconditional positive regard, all behavior is communication
- safe/supportive relationship in healing/helping relationship
- ongoing learning as an ally and culturally competent interactions
- choice, options and control
- awareness of strengths and talents
And what does all this have to do with herbalism? ☺
Well, if you have some trauma in your background or struggle with your mental health, chances are you have a lot of energy going towards making it through your day. Or trying to understand what you are going through. Or exploring what choices you have available to you. Many of us have experiences of going to the doctor's office seeking help and/or clarity and leaving feeling smaller and less supported than when we came in (and often triggered or re-traumatized). Or the dentist. Or therapist. Or the post office (lol).
By making a committed and ongoing effort to offer herbal consultations and supports that are 'trauma-informed,' I am making a commitment to ensure this process is as supportive, empowering, safe and easy to navigate as possible. I can't promise I'll be perfect. But I can dedicate my work to lifting trauma out of the shadowy, sucky and scary place it lurks in culturally to a place of clarity, understanding and normalization and transformation. I believe you are your own authority. You are responsible for your well being if you are an adult and my work is to help provide you with the most supportive, easiest to access and navigate support that I can.