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We're All Dealing With Some Kind Of Trauma — Here's How To Heal

Jason Wachob
mbg Founder & Co-CEO By Jason Wachob
mbg Founder & Co-CEO
Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth.
We're All Dealing With Some Kind Of Trauma — Here's How To Heal
Today's podcast episode is a special recording from our sixth annual revitalize event, which was held in Dove Mountain, Arizona, in June. The insights we learned on the main stage this year were too good not to share, so we're broadcasting them on the podcast over the next few weeks. Here, two experts on the mind-body connection share their favorite strategies for healing from trauma of all sorts.

Lissa Rankin, M.D., and Kelly Turner, Ph.D., have both spent years studying how people use spirituality to overcome illness against all odds. And what they've found is fascinating.

Turner, a researcher who has spent time with over 1,500 hospice patients, has identified nine keys to healing—and only two of them are physical. The others, things like releasing suppressed emotions and identifying your reasons for living, may be difficult to write a prescription for, but they provide a potent medicine. Rankin is intimately familiar with these more emotional approaches to healing too, and she has spent the last seven years traveling to lands near and far to study other cultures' sacred healing practices.

When Turner and Rankin took to the revitalize stage this year, the topic of trauma inevitably came up. When trauma, no matter how severe, is left unattended to, it can spiral into the types of illnesses that these two New York Times bestselling authors are so intimately familiar with.

"The more of those 'Big T' and 'Little T' traumas that build up in the system, the greater the risk of disease, especially as we get older," Rankin explained. Luckily, she added, recent science suggests that trauma is completely treatable.

Turner agreed, saying, "We have the science now to apply to emotional interventions, and that's the marriage that I'm excited to finally be seeing. It's like, let's not just see what happens when you take this supplement or eat this new diet. What happens when you go through an eight-week forgiveness course? What happens to your body?"

Here are four techniques that Turner and Rankin said show promise in getting to the root of trauma and helping us work through it so it doesn't continue to grow and intensify over time:

Mental, emotional, and spiritual approaches to healing trauma:


1. Internal Family Systems (IFS)

Rankin counts this lesser-known healing modality as one of her favorites. Created by family therapist Richard Schwartz, the counseling model speaks to the many different sides to every person, or "discrete minds," and teases out how they can all play a valuable part in the complete self. "We have the beginnings of scientific evidence that this can be used as treatment for physical disease," Rankin said.

2. Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT)

This type of energy therapy is similar to tapping but based on a complex psychotherapeutic foundation, and it's now being used to help cancer patients who opted out of conventional treatment or choose to use it as adjunctive treatment. AIT identifies and permanently clears traumatic blocks in the energy systems that can predispose to mental and physical health challenges by moving these stuck energies through the chakra system and undergoing "three step transformation" to interrupt and heal traumatic patterns, Rankin explains.

3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EDMR)

Turner shared that this psychotherapy technique, where physicians guide patients through guided eye movements, may be especially beneficial for people who don't completely remember their traumas, like those who have some sort of phobia they can't explain the root of. "Scientifically, EMDR has been shown to significantly decrease activity in your amygdala and hippocampus," she explained. "So you're basically taking this stress response that, due to the trauma, is kind of always on, and through EMDR, you can quiet that down."


4. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT, also known as "tapping," is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves—you guessed it—tapping on key energy centers of the body to release stagnation and pain. "A new study came out that showed that one hour of tapping can significantly change in a positive way the gene expression of 72 genes," Turner shared.

Turner and Rankin are both hopeful that more science will come out to support the efficacy of these trauma healing techniques, and they would like to see them go more mainstream—especially among underprivileged populations.

As Rankin said to round out the discussion, to spirited applause, "We really need an expedited way to get trauma healing to the masses in an affordable way, where it's not a luxury good."

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