By: Jennifer Nurick Psychotherapist based in Australia
Can Energetic Healing Help Treat Trauma?
There are so many different forms of energetic healing that it is difficult to put them all in one basket called ‘energetic healing’. The question is always can some of the different forms of energy healing help with trauma resolution – in my experience – ‘absolutely, they can’!
The definition of trauma has expanded in recent years as research has differentiated between ‘Types of Trauma; shock and complex. 'Shock Trauma' can occur as a medical procedure or a car accident. ‘Complex trauma’, which refers to a person’s exposure to multiple traumatic events often over a long period of time.
Whilst there are similarities between the two, there are also substantial differences, physically, mentally and emotionally. For the purpose of this article we will look at ‘shock trauma’.
Currently, Phoenix Australia: Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) all promote the use of a version of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of shock trauma. The premise is that CBT interventions, are based on changing thoughts which will in turn change emotions.
The issue with a purely CBT approach is the lack of integration with the body and the spirit. After a big car accident for example, may leave an individual knowing in their head that the car accident was not your fault, that it is not likely to happen again, but still they may feel terrified to get into a car. I know this from personal experience. I was in a near fatal car accident at age 13. I knew in my head it was very unlikely to happen again, but I resisted getting into a car again for over a year. I would feel panicky and my body would move to the side automatically if a car looked like it wasn’t going to stop. My body held the memory of the accident and was simply reacting to keep me safe. Consider this a physiological coping mechanism developing through my experience.
Many researchers in the area of trauma are calling for the need to integrate body, mind and spirit in the healing of trauma (Levine, 1997; van der Kolk, 2014; Rothschild, 2000). I don’t think we can separate out these three elements. We need to address trauma in a holistic way to address it most effectively. This means integrating techniques such as CBT for the mind, body processes, such as somatic experiencing, for the body, and other modalities that work with the spirit (Brom et. al., 2017).
How do we work with the spirit? There are many ways to work with the spirit. Working with the spirit is about re-connecting to your essence in a way that is powerful and meaningful to you. Being supported by people who care about you. In many aboriginal cultures, traumas were held by the collective, even if they happened to an individual, the collective came together to support the individual in their healing.
Working with spirit is to have a sense of something greater than oneself, a sense of connectedness to nature and being in harmony with nature (Abram, 2017). Taking time to nurture your spirit in a way that is meaningful to you, whether it is painting, gardening or walking with friends. Spiritual work does not have the same definition as it once had, the key is to take time to nurture your emotions to care for the inner child that existed before the trauma.
Whenever there has been a shock trauma I am always interested in the timing. So many clients have said to me, “I had a huge event happen to me, it was terrible. I know why it happened.” There is a sense that there was a lesson in the trauma, a message, that they were able to discover. Finding meaning in the trauma has been shown to reduce fear and is part of the holistic healing process (Updegraff, Silver, & Holman, 2008). I find the meaning emerges for people over time. It is not usually present immediately. I integrated the meaning of my car accident at 13 only 5 years ago, and I’m in my 40’s!
I have found an integrated, holistic, biopsychospiritual approach to trauma to be the most integrative and respectful of the whole person; body, mind and spirit. I think we are doing a dis-service to ourselves when we only treat the mind, or only the body. The WHOLE being needs to be addressed in any wholistic approach to healing trauma. Going forward I would love to see a more integrated and wholistic approach to healing trauma emerging which includes all of our energetic system.
Jennifer Nurick, Psychotherapist & Energetic Healer. President of the International Energetic Healing Association. One-on-one sessions can be booked through www.jennynurick.com. Follow me on Instagram @psychotherapy.central and Facebook (Psychotherapy Central (Courses delivered through The Golden Woman Centre).
Abram, D. (1996). The Spell of the sensuous: Perception and language in a more-than-human world.New York, NY: Random House
American Psychiatric Association (2017). Clinical practice guideline for the treatment of PTSD. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/ptsd.pdf
Brom D, Stokar Y, Lawi C, Nuriel-Porat V, Ziv Y, Lerner K, Ross G (2017). "Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study". Journal of Traumatic Stress. doi:10.1002/jts.22189. PMC 5518443. PMID 28585761.
Levine, P. (1997). Waking the tiger – healing trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Rothschild, B. (2000). The body remembers: The psychophysiology of trauma and trauma treatment.New York, NY: Norton Books.
Phoenix Australia: Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health. (2019a). PTSD guidelines. Retrieved from
Updegraff, J. A., Silver, R. C., & Holman, E. A. (2008). Searching for and finding meaning in collective trauma: Results from a national longitudinal study of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(3), 709–722. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1999
van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York, NY: Penguin Books.