Trauma-Initiated Vs Trauma-Informed: Owning and Sharing Our Hard-earned Wisdom and Presence

November 24th, 2022

By Jack Adam Weber

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

As anyone who has journeyed through their own recovery knows, you learn stuff down there in the dark, in the pain, that can’t be learned in textbooks or easily explained.

It’s lived experience, creating a web of wisdom that has so much intricacy, both mentally and emotionally, that no one could ever truly know the territory unless they had been there themselves.

This is to be trauma-initiated.

It changes the whole of you cognitively, physically, emotionally, and finally, spiritually. Because it all happens deep in the body, the result is a richly embodied spirituality.

Going through the process, which begins in earnest when the heart cracks open and one courageously meets their backlogged pain that purges forth, is a practice in deep compassion and presencing . . . because we have to cultivate these very qualities through the healing process. Without them, there is no transformation unto more love.

In other words, deep presence and embodied compassion are forged from the healing process itself. They derive from the combination of the self-love we turn towards ourselves and our existing brilliance that lies beneath and within a fuller heart uncovered by dissolving our pain.

I’ve heard many express their disgruntlement with therapists, especially talk therapists, who know very little about embodied emotional work—because they haven’t really been through it themselves.

You can feel when you are in the presence of someone who is trauma-initiated vs. merely trauma-informed. They can resonate and attune with your depths, with your toughest moments, and become even more present as these hidden heartaches are uncovered and revealed, as opposed to shutting down, interrupting your process, or otherwise going away (there are so many ways to leave what scares us!).

Merely being trauma-informed is not embodiment, the deep comprehensive wisdom and compassion needed to be with another through their own pain and anguish of healing their heart. Being trauma-informed is one thing, but to really show up full-bodied to presence and empathize with another, one has to be the embodiment that derives from actually doing the work. Because the work changes one, radically.

It’s high time us wounded healers, who have been through the flames and trained by gritty experience, share our stories and presence with others who are starving for the trauma-initiated and have been attunement-starved by the merely trauma-informed. The attunement is the love, which acts like a chelating agent to pull the pain we carry from not being loved (this is also why it can be terrifying to be genuinely loved by another, because it confronts us with our backlogged pain that blocks this love).

When I went through my trauma healing, my therapist didn’t guide me. She merely held space for me—attuned, loving, deeply compassionate space, with occasional nudges and prompts here or there.

She was trauma-initiated and it wasn’t largely her cognitive intelligence or knowledge that helped me heal, though she was all that too. It was the especially the deep, loving presence she had become through her own transformation. If I hadn’t been able to tap my own wisdom for how to navigate my depths, I imagine she would have guided me. But she was wise and humble enough to notice that I didn’t need it.

It’s almost always better when a client can be empowered in their own process, in their own epiphanies and breakthroughs, traveling at their own pace and relying on their own internal cues to catalyze a healing odyssey dictated by the readiness of their nervous system to handle the catharsis.

The alchemical ingredients for our healing lay in wait, inside us. We just need the genuine care, co-regulation, and sacred partnership with an elder on the path to catalyze it.

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About the author:

Jack Adam Weber, L.Ac., is a licensed Chinese medicine clinician, award-winning author, embodiment coach, and celebrated poet. Jack developed the Nourish Practice, a deeply restorative, somatic meditation-qi gong practice that doubles as an educational guide for healing through the wounds and trauma of childhood. His work is at Follow Jack on Facebook and Instagram for daily downloads.

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