September 7, 2023

Maybe I'm Not the Problem with Complex Trauma Expert Danica Harris, Ph.D, SEP

Danica @theempoweredtherapist specializes in healing from attachment wounds, sexual assault, emotional neglect, vicarious trauma, intergenerational and identity-based trauma, and work or academic trauma. 

In this DEEP convo, Kristen and Danica discuss the following topics: 
Complex Trauma
Is it ADHD or CPTSD?
Somatic Experiencing
How to Identify a Trigger
The Complexity of Healing

Danica is a therapist and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) in Dallas, TX. She co-owns Empowered Healing Dallas, a group practice where she provides trauma-informed therapy using somatic, relational, attachment, and parts work approaches to treatment.

Danica is passionate about support for therapists and provides counseling services, mentorship, supervision, and consultation to mental health providers looking for trauma-informed support. She is deeply invested in equity, social justice efforts, and destigmatizing mental health treatment, and utilizes her Instagram platform, @theempoweredtherapist to provide education and support to the broader community.

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Kristen Carder 0:07
Hey, what’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you’re listening to a new bi weekly series on the I have ADHD podcast called, maybe I’m not the problem. This is a different type of podcast where I have deep conversations with therapists, psychologists, and trauma informed coaches about how our pasts, our upbringing, our parents, or teachers, or traumas or nerve divergences, all of that have impacted us and how maybe, just maybe we are not the problem. Now, this is not ADHD specific content. So if that’s what you’re looking for, just click on one of the over 200 episodes of The I have ADHD podcast and enjoy. You can expect this bi weekly series of maybe I’m not the problem to be a casual, long form and really fun, honorable conversation with someone that I deeply respect. For detailed information about today’s guest, check out the episode show notes for their bio and links. And now, let’s get started.

I really, like I said, so appreciate you meeting with me, I host, a podcast all about adult ADHD. And I’ve been on my own healing journey through very trauma informed therapy. I think I have a lot of complex PTSD. And I’m really wrestling with, is it ADHD? Or is it complex PTSD. And I’m having these conversations kind of live and vulnerably. Because the journey that I have been on it’s is one that I think a lot of people with ADHD will resonate with, where you kind of, you discover you have ADHD, and there’s kind of a triage period where you’re like, I need medication, I need coaching I need you know, like, give me all the resources. And then once you feel kind of stable, there’s a little bit of space where you can kind of do a little bit more unpacking. Yep, that’s what I’ve noticed.

Danica Harris 2:24

Kristen Carder 2:25
That, okay, makes me so happy. Where it’s like, we’re not ready for the heavy stuff, because we can’t even function. So we need that triage period of just like having the medication, getting the support, like figuring out how to get to work on time, like the basic functioning. And then once that happens, there’s a little bit more space for peeling apart some layers. And it’s only been in the last couple years that I’ve had the capacity to do that. And as I have done it, it has been a reckoning. Yeah, I’m sure. Oh, mg. And so I just today would love to chat with you about complex trauma, complex PTSD, what that kind of looks like. It’s so interesting. You know, I was combing through your Instagram. It’s just such a great, lovely, warm, safe space. So thank you for really, yeah, and everybody that I’m having on I have followed for years and have really they, like, you included have been such a big part of my own healing journey to have these. These messages pop up in my feed to help me to see where I’m not the problem. Yeah, yeah. And that’s really the theme of this series is yes, there’s a lot that we need to take responsibility for. There’s a lot of things that we need to be held accountable for. But also, I’m not always the problem, which I didn’t know. Right, and just waking up to that like, Wait, is that again? Are you okay, that is not always my fault, or that the fact that I’m late is organized, you know, like, yes, it can be ADHD as fault but also, the way I was raised in a chaotic environment with a lot of abuse and neglect, like that has something to do with it as well question mark, question mark, you know, and so being able to kind of unpack that is, is an interesting experience. So I just want to say thank you for the work that you put out there because it’s been really an important part of my own healing journey. You know, therapy once a week, like it’s an hour long, is not long enough, you know? Exactly. So to have the support of therapists like you who are willing to put your work out there. It’s almost like this cushion or this like soft blanket that you get to wrap yourself in between therapy appointments. So yeah, I appreciate that. So tell me a little bit about yourself and your practice. And if you don’t mind sharing, like, why trauma therapy for you personally, like, why is that kind of the pull for you.

Danica Harris 5:21
So I started in my own therapy as a teenager. And I had a really a couple of like, not great therapy experiences. And then I had a really, really great therapy experience. And this therapist that I worked with, for about four years, she, the thing I remember about her who’s been a long time now, but the thing I remember is that like, there was this unconditional, like, love and acceptance from her. Like, I felt like I could say anything. And I remember even like testing that at times, like, you know, as a teenager might like, kind of saying this thing for shock value or saying the thing like almost like dropping it and kind of turning away, you know, like, is that an okay thing to do or say, and she was just always affirming and always welcoming. And so I think that put therapy in like a positive place inside of me, you know, like, Oh, this is a good thing. This is a place people go to heal and, and even as a teenager, I knew I had experienced trauma, I’d already experienced pretty significant trauma up until that point. And I wanted to be a therapist, because I thought that this, this experience with my therapist as a teenager was so positive. But I didn’t get to go to college right away. I’m a first gen college student or college graduate, came from a working class background under educated parents. So that wasn’t in the cards for me. So I kind of went this path of, well, I want to work with people and I want to help people feel good about themselves. And the work that I found myself in was in like makeup, artistry and aesthetics and stuff like that. And then after being in that field for about eight years, I went back to school, and then went all the way through. So got my bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD. And while I was in school, get to do like, practicums, and work with clients and stuff like that. And the first population I worked with when I was in school was perpetrators of intimate partner violence. I had been court ordered to a program. And I chose that work because I, I’m of the perspective of like, well, I wasn’t going to get to do this, right, like go to school. And so I need to maximize every opportunity, which of course, this is a trauma response to right. But I was but at the time, I was like, This is what I should do. And then in doing that work, I’ve really just had this passion for trauma work in general. Like, I think just even sitting with people who had caused other people such profound harm, I could see the complexity in these human beings. And it helped really to expand my perspective of trauma, and understand like how trauma leads to a series of not only internal experiences, but also behaviors that people engage in, to try to feel some sort of sense of like control or sense of self or whatever. And, you know, sometimes people engage in really harmful strategies to do that. Yeah. So I think that kind of set the tone for me, and once I was in school of like, okay, traumas worked out for me, and then I just kind of like navigated myself through trauma trainings, and different practicums, where I got to focus on trauma. And then since I’ve been out of school, it’s like, that’s the only complex trauma Complex PTSD attachment wounds, sexual trauma, that’s really all the work I’ve done.

Kristen Carder 8:31
Do you have like a handy definition for complex trauma? Because I feel like even the definition can be complex.

Danica Harris 8:42
Yes. Well, no, I think that’s it, right? Like, I think the fact that the definition is complex, tells us everything we need to know about what happens internally. Right. So I think of complex trauma as the pervasive prolonged experience of stimuli or circumstances that are too much, too fast, too overwhelming for the nervous system.

Kristen Carder 9:03
Oh, that’s so good. What I love about that definition, is it. It’s pretty vague. And it leaves a lot up to interpretation of the person experiencing the trauma because,

you know, complex trauma is so it’s such.

I really, like I’m a person of faith, and I really don’t swear a lot but it is such mind fuckery Do you know what I am saying? And I just like I am so sorry, for the F word, Lord Jesus and everyone else, but that is the only thing that I can like it is profoundly confusing. And it’s profoundly destabilizing and you never really know which way is up and you’re never really sure that what you experienced is actually what you experience and you’re just like, it’s just so confusing. And while I am very grateful to not have experienced,

like an

incident, like a sexual assault, for example, I feel so grateful. But also, I feel like in some ways that might be a little less confusing, because I could point to that one thing and say this really bad thing happened that one time.

Yeah. Do you have any thoughts about that?

Danica Harris 10:26
Oh, yes, this is the motto of our clients all the time, because I think what you’re describing is what most if not all, complex trauma survivors experience, which is like, you know, what is the thing like they want to pinpoint something, what is the thing that made me like this, right. And it’s not one thing, it’s the collection of things that occurred, it’s the way our body stores, the magnetic trauma, it’s the way our body encodes developmental trauma before our brain can make sense of it. It’s the way that you know, even neglect, right? So the absence of care, which really, I mean, I, I suspect that most complex trauma survivors have a very significant amount of neglect in their upbringing. And when I, when I say neglect did not necessarily mean like didn’t have basic needs met, like probably did have a house or you know, a roof over your head, food, water, that sort of stuff. But care was intermittent or care was neglectful, or like the Miss attunement was so profound, and it’s really hard to describe or pinpoint something that is the absence of something you needed.

Kristen Carder 11:34
Done That was so meaningful.

Danica Harris 11:36
Yeah. It’s hard to pinpoint. Yeah, the impact of something that is missing something that you needed that you didn’t get,

Kristen Carder 11:48
yes. Okay, let’s talk about this. That’s so so important. Because I have a large coaching program where I coach adults with ADHD, it is the joy of my life, it is the best thing ever. And in the last couple years, through my own journey, with therapy and my own healing, and I’m still on the path of healing. We’ve really kind of evolved the group into a really safe place where we’re really trying to be emotionally literate. We’re trying to feel things in our bodies, we’re trying to make sure that we are not always assigning blame to ourselves, like we’re really yes, we’re talking about ADHD. And yes, we’re doing all of the mindset coaching. But I’m really trying to make sure that it’s also like a very emotionally safe place. And when I speak of my own experience, and I tried to describe like, there’s a reason why we blame ourselves, there’s a reason why we are judgmental of ourselves. There’s a reason and, and, you know, like, the reason is probably our caregivers. And I have a lot of not always but there’s often pushback like, my parents were great, or like I had a roof over my head, like everything was fine. And I don’t think that most of us myself, including as of like three years ago, understood what was missing. Because it was just the norm, we didn’t understand that like, attunement is possible being understood is possible being heard and validated and cared for being prioritized, emotionally is possible. What other things do you feel like are often missing that people don’t realize

are missing?

Danica Harris 13:38
Well, I think it’s like what we’re talking about here. It’s like the complexity of neglect, right? So like, what you just said, I hear this from clients a lot, too. It’s like, well, my parents were good, because they made sure our bills were paid. They were they picked me up from school, even you know, it’s like the transactional things were there. And like, think about this from like a developing brain, a developing brain can’t really make space for a lot of nuance. It’s a pretty black and white experience. It’s like, you know, when I need you, are you there? Well, from a child’s perspective, we’re looking at this through an attachment lens, like, yeah, if you picked me up from school, if you made sure that the roof was over my head, if you fed me or made sure I was fed in some way that you weren’t there. Great. But then this complexity or this nuance around like, Well, yeah, but when I fell and skinned my knee, and you told me to walk it off, it’s like, yeah, but maybe you weren’t there, then you know, and these are the pieces that I think come out in either detailed coaching work or trauma informed therapy, where like, when we really started looking at like, yeah, okay, but when you were upset as a child, what did you do? And when I when I asked that question to folks, one of the answers I’ll get back are often the thematic answer I’ll get back is like, Well, I would go in my room or go into a private space and cope on my own. Yeah. And I think that if you learn as a child if we learned as a child To rely primarily on ourselves, then that’s going to have a really significant effect on how we see ourselves, relationships the world. And so I think that’s the missing piece. It’s like, you know, people find themselves in their 20s 30s 40s 50s 60s in therapy kind of going, like, what happened here. And if we, if we look back at the initial caregiver interactions, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the caregivers are wrong or bad, right, it just means that they weren’t attuned. And there may be a ton of reasons why that’s the case. It could be cultural factors. It could be, you know, lacking resources, it could be that they had their own trauma that they hadn’t healed from that was in their way. And it could have also just been someone who probably might not have been a parent or wasn’t an effective parent, right? There’s so much there. And I think we’ve got this like, linear idea around trauma that it’s like, well, if someone caused you harm, they’re bad. And I think that that’s a really reductive view of understanding, like, because we’re all causing harm unintentionally, all the time. And it’s almost like that sounds like a really like awful thing. But if we can lighten up kind of the blame or shame around this, that idea, I think that that’s where we really can see like, Okay, well, we’re interacting with people all the time, right? So we’re connecting, or we’re colliding, and anytime we’re colliding, there’s gonna be impact, there’s going to be potential for negative impact. And if we don’t just look at that as like, huh, I had an experience and they had a different experience. And together, there was a collision, and that collision needs to be tended to, then we’re not actively treating trauma in like a collective way. We’re kind of looking at at least like little bitty situations where then if you’re my caregiver, and I am a grown adult now and I say to you, hey, you caused me harm as a kid. Well, if we think of it, like a collision is a like, only bad thing, then you’re likely to push back and be like I did not, because then that changes how you think of you, right? Like it furthers the invalidation. And so I think the that’s a very, like, non nonlinear answer for you. But I think one of the things we’re missing is like expanding the narrative around trauma, and looking at the complexity of like, well, yeah, there may have been one individual experience, were like, You skinned your knee, and they were like, shake it off. But what about the collective experience of like, every time I was crying, I didn’t have someone to turn to? And what does that mean, as I get older about how I show emotion in relationship with people, and if I don’t show emotion in relationship, what kind of partners Am I gathering into my life? And then how are those wounds continuing to impact me as I move forward and like layer on top of each other such that now I’m in adulthood, and I have no healthy relationships?

Kristen Carder 17:33

Yes to all of it. And I see, as you’re speaking, I see myself through all of this. And I’m wondering if you can describe attunement for the listener, because I think that’s a really important theme. And I love the way you speak in themes. I think that is a really beautiful language. So what is attunement? Why does it matter? And like, what happens if we don’t have caregivers that understand how to attune?

Danica Harris 18:04
Yeah, I think attunement, when I think about it with the clients that I work with. So I try to operate clinically, like from an attunement perspective, like you’re sharing and my I think my primary job is to attune to you, so like, what do you need in this moment? And I don’t put the pressure on me, just like parents shouldn’t put the pressure on them to know all of the answers all the time. But I will shift to meet the person in whatever their answer is. So I’m going to be empathic I’m going to be validating in my response. And if I noticed that like something I say, doesn’t land well, it’s me being responsive and immediate to what I’m missing. So what would that sound like? So let’s say I’m like validating a client. And I kind of see like, oh, they don’t they don’t have like a response. It’s like, yeah, like they don’t, they’re not, we’re not like, jiving like we’re not Co Co regulating, something’s kind of off. I might say to them, like I noticed a shift in you. When I said, XYZ. I wonder if what I said had had an impact on you. Or I wonder what’s coming up for you, as I say this. And it’s allowing space for them to have an experience of what I said, rather than me being like, Well, what I said was validating, therefore it’s right. I’m saying, hey, this thing that I thought was validating, it might not have felt validating. Yeah. And I want to give you the opportunity to tell me it wasn’t.

Kristen Carder 19:28
So when we’re thinking about that, in the scenario of a parent child relationship, it’s a parent saying to a child’s, hey, I noticed that you got really quiet. Is there anything that I said that made you upset? Something like that?

Danica Harris 19:44
It could be that like, that’s probably better for someone who’s like maybe 10 and older, right? But like, for a younger kid, it might be like, making sure to get down on their level. Like one of the things that I think parents don’t do enough is like, are adults. It’s not just parents, one of the things adults don’t do enough with children is like get on their level, like, sit with them, talk to them eye contact, encourage them to engage in the dialogue. So, you know, rather than kind of telling kids how to feel, or telling kids what to do rather like finding out from them how they feel, or encouraging that language, right, so like, if they followed skin, their knee, getting down with them, and like, you know, talking them through, like, tell me how you feel and like letting them emote, like just even letting them cry without limitation, I think that’s attunement. It’s being able to be immediate, responsive, and in the moment with what the other person needs.

Kristen Carder 20:39
So as you’re talking, I can one of the things that is coming up for me, and it has been throughout this whole journey as I have three kids, and the mom that I was to them 10 years ago is completely different from the mom, I am to them today, thank God. And I, you know, when they were little, I was so dysregulated by their emotion that I had to shut their emotion down, so that I could just cope with life. Right. So like, I had ADHD, I had a lot of complex trauma that I didn’t even realize I was carrying, I was constantly in fight or flight dysregulated constantly and I had three boys, boys, Danica boys, okay. Um, so shutting them down, shutting their emotion down, even if it was happy emotion, right? Like, they’re really excited and rude. And I’m just like, or if they’re screaming and crying and like, they’re hurt, and I’ll be there with them in their hurt for about 15 seconds, I can handle that, right? And then it’s like, okay, like, I’ve comforted you. And now it’s time for you to respond to my comforting and SAP. Right. So that I could just handle life. And I know that was also done to me. And like I see the the generational trauma playing itself out. I think it takes a very regulated parent to be able to attune, and my audience has ADHD. And one of the things we struggle with the most is regulating ourselves regulating our emotions regulating our behavior, or our impulsive actions. And so what? Encouragement maybe can you can you give to someone who’s like, Well, I would love to attune. But my emotions are so overwhelming that I can barely handle myself, let alone even think about the child in front of me or the my partner in front of me or my friend in front of me. Yeah.

Danica Harris 22:49
Yeah, it’s challenging, right, when our stuff is like front and center when we’re in the presence of someone who needs us in any way. Yes. And I think I would just validate that, like, Yeah, this is a challenging thing. I’m suggesting that it’s difficult to attune to another person when our own stuff doesn’t feel fully in access to us. You know, and so I think just naming that, and, and I think letting the people in our lives know that, like, I’m going to do the best I can. And it is my intention to show up for you. And it’s my intention to be there for you. And I’m probably not going to get it right all the time. And the reality is, none of us are getting it right all the time. You know, and I think the work here to do and this is true with any form of neurodiversity, like whether we’re talking like ADHD, complex, PTSD, autism spectrum, highly sensitive people, like we’re really needing to, like create space inside of ourselves for a variety of responses. Because what happens is, like any in you said this, like, even the like, excitatory positive, like happy, you know, it’s like anything excitatory in our system gets quoted as threat if we’ve had trauma, right? So like, the bad that and I’m using air quotes here, the bad emotions, but also the good ones. They’re all excitatory they’re all activation in the system, so the body doesn’t know the difference.

Kristen Carder 24:06
Okay, that was big for me. Okay. I really appreciate you saying that. I really do. Because, yes, just it resonates deeply that because I’m activated either way. Exactly. Yep. Yep. Like one end of the spectrum or the other.

Danica Harris 24:25
Yeah. And to the body, they’re the same. It’s not one under the the mind is what knows the difference, the mind does the difference between excitatory that is danger and excitatory that it’s happy or positive or feel good or, you know, an enjoyable emotion, or ought to be enjoyable,

Kristen Carder 24:43
supposed to be.

Danica Harris 24:45
So sometimes it’s a matter of like creating space, right. So like with some forms of neurodiversity, we’re talking about impulsivity is like, you know, a kind of a quick way of responding to internal distress. So it’s about creating a little bit of space there and like Okay, can I settle for 10 seconds, you know, so you said like when you know when your children are younger, like, you know, I can be with them and their pain for 15 seconds, I might say like, well wow be with you for 15 seconds first and see like, Okay, who can I can I settle any impulsivity or reactivity that’s coming up inside of me that I can be in this exact moment with what my child is needing? Wow.

Kristen Carder 25:27
Is a tuning to self? Is that what you’re describing like attune to yourself first and then you have the capacity to attune to others?

Danica Harris 25:36
Yes, yeah. You said that. So simply, I think that’s exactly it. It’s like, if we can be with us, we have a greater sense of like, what’s going on for us what’s on what’s online for us right here right now. So that we can then offer to someone else, you know, a lot of trauma treatment will actually say, and I’m sure if you’ve ever flown on a plane, you you’ve heard this, right, like, put your own oxygen mask on first, before you put the oxygen mask on of the child next to you. And you know, I’m sure from a parent perspective, it’s like, well, I have to care take my child first. And it’s like, yeah, if you have nothing, you can’t actually caretake. So if we’re talking, you know, you probably can’t leave a wounded her child for multiple minutes while you go up through them. And, and try, let me

Kristen Carder 26:19
just do a quick meditation real quick, I see that you’re bleeding profusely from the head, but like, I need to regulate myself. Okay. Right.

Danica Harris 26:25
Exactly. Yeah. So I think it’s about like, what can I actually do right here in this moment? And shall we, if we all got better at creating a little bit of space between what’s happening from a sensation perspective? So like, what am I noticing is happening either in my body or external stimuli that’s going on. And then my response, if we could create just a little bit of space there, cool, then we’re not only attuning to us, we’re better able to attune to others.

Kristen Carder 26:50
I think that it’s so hard to learn how to attune to yourself when you’ve never experienced it developmentally, you know, in those formative years, I shared with my therapist, the last time I was so I was doing weekly, then I was doing bi weekly, then it was like, as needed. And I went back last time and I was like, I don’t want to be here. I’m mad that I’m here. I’m mad that I even have to be here like, thank the Lord that she is like a safe place for that. And she’s like, you’re kind of treating me like the dentist. Hmm. And then like, Yup, that’s exactly what’s happening. Like, I’ve got some pain. And I know I have to deal with it. And I want to and one of the things that I said was like, I’ve got a lot going on, and I probably should be crying, but I don’t cry. So it’s like, crying isn’t really a thing for me. And she said, many people who struggle to cry and like emote in that way,

have pre verbal trauma.

I was like, neat. That’s super neat. And so to think about like, and I wrote down, something that you said, and I’m gonna read it here in a second. But to think about

complex trauma as a whole, as being like,

obviously hard to define hard to pinpoint hard to like, even remember and then think that trauma, pre pre verbal trauma would be contributing to that as well. It’s like, I wasn’t even old enough to remember things that happened, right? And so to be able to hold space for that, and then and realize like, okay, so like attunement wasn’t a thing. How can I learn to attune to myself, and that’s why I think the therapeutic relationship is so important, right? Because it’s like a stand in. Let me show you how attunement works. And my therapist is not warm and fuzzy, which I do appreciate a little bit like I, I can handle it. But she’s constantly saying, what’s coming up for you? What, what’s happening there? I see your face dropping, what does that mean? Right? Instead of Why are you looking at me like that? Why is your face doing that thing? What like a reaction? Like, I’m sure I’m not hurting her with my reaction. She’s not defensive. It’s not about she knows it’s not about her. Right? Gosh, that’s beautiful.

Danica Harris 29:25
Yeah. Well, I think even what you said, I mean, I think it’s nice when warm and fuzzy as attuned because I think sometimes this you know, I was a professor and I have supervised all the therapists over the years. And one of the things that I think therapists are taught to do, it’s like, almost be like a few Civ with their care. And I mean, that’s one school of thought some people are not trained that way. But if you’re training them like a relational model, you’re kind of trained to be like, always like warmth and unconditional positive regard, and those things are great. I’m not knocking those. Consider myself warm as a therapist.

Kristen Carder 29:58
You seem very warm. Oh, thank

Danica Harris 30:00
you. I think more important though, it’s, it’s being consistent. Yep. And it’s, it’s being available. So like, we can be warm. But if the worms isn’t titrated, meaning like dosed appropriately, then we almost let the person you know, like, if I were overly gooey with a client who had complex trauma is learned, like, my caregivers are not there for me, if I’m overly gooey, they’re not going to trust me, they’re not going to trust what I’m showing up with. But if I’m consistent, then they learn to see okay, Dhammika is consistent. And that’s actually more important to me than the warmth and care. Now, they will accept the warmth and care more and more as time goes on. So I can increase it over time. And it kind of sounds like what you just described in your therapist like she is attuning to you and being consistent, and that’s what actually makes therapy more helpful and more supportive than if she were just like, everything goes warm and fuzzy. It’s like, stern, so that other people’s systems can learn to discern, like, you can learn safety, what does safety actually look and feel like? Well, it’s not just warm and fuzzy, it’s consistent, it’s available, it’s demonstrating that like, hey, when you need me, I’m here. And that looks like different stuff each time.

Kristen Carder 31:12
Talk to me about the importance of consistency, because I think that that is a that inconsistency is a major contributing factor to complex trauma.

Danica Harris 31:21
Yes, 100%. So if we have inconsistency in childhood, or instability, or chaotic, chaotic home environment, our nervous system is going to be likely to stay inactivation. Meaning that we have a window of tolerance that our nervous system kind of works between and like, on any given day, you know, we’re gonna have ebbs and flows, sympathetic arousal, parasympathetic comes on, we regulate stress, digest all that, that’s in a healthy, functional nervous system. But when all the unpredictability is there, we’re likely to get up outside of our window, meaning that everything kind of stays on we get in sympathetic overdrive. And that’s because we feel like the environment is threatening. And our brain thinks it unnecessarily This is the body, the body goes, well, I can’t predict what’s happening, or the brain can’t predict what’s happening. So I have to stay on and active so that I can endure anything that comes my way. Yeah. So the opposite of unpredictable, chaotic, is consistency. So if we’re looking for healing than I want, if you’re my client, I want you to know what you’re going to expect from me, I want you to, I’m going to show one of my favorite things that I’ve been working with someone long term is they’ll say, they’ll either say like, I had you in my head, I thought, What would Danica say? Or they’ll tell me something. And they’re like, I know what you’re gonna say to this. And that, to me is such a sign that I have shown up the way I need to show up for them, and that they have been able to internalize what I’ve been saying, and also count on me to show up in another way. And that’s not only good relationally that’s good for their nervous system. That’s great feedback for me that I’m showing up consistently, which is why I would want to do and all of my relationships are rational. So we then not only build the relational bond, we’re also able to co regulate with one another. And our system knows to settle so then when they’re in the presence of me, their system goes down because safe. You don’t have to do all the like activation stuff to get to a place of settle. They just come in and they know this office is a place I can let my guard down.

Kristen Carder 33:24
Yeah, I’m feeling that. And I think about like, you probably have like multiple chairs in your office. Do you have clients sit in the same chair? Like they just choose their one chair? Yeah, so I have my chair. And I sit down and it’s just like a, I feel like a whoosh. Yes, for sure. There’s like, my whole body is just like, and it’s very similar to being around my husband, where I just there’s like the letdown around him, you know, or just like, oh, like, I can sink into myself.

Danica Harris 33:57
Exactly how I think of it too. We sink into ourselves. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 34:01
Um, what you’re describing, with constantly having to be on and aware and and on the lookout for danger. Even if your brain does not logically think the words I’m in danger, and it probably won’t as a child, right? You’re just going to be like, hyperactive?

Yep. Which sounds a lot like ADHD. Yep.

So as a child, I was very distractible. I did not sleep. I was up until late late late at night. I remember like, almost, I mean a ton. Hearing my parents finally go to bed and being like, okay, now I can sleep. Yeah. Which is interesting. Looking back. i i also now, even though I know I’m safe, and I’m really working on creating safety for myself. Have I struggled to fall asleep before my husband? It’s like this habit of once I hear him settled and breathing really consistently, then I’m like, okay, I can settle. That’s not as much anymore. But it used to be much more consistent. And now I’m, I’m realizing like, there are times when I’m falling asleep first, and I’m like, Oh, I feel like me, which is such a small simple thing. But, you know, the person that was always awake, the latest at sleepovers, but that, that presents like ADHD symptoms, but I’m not sure for me personally, that it was and so I’m curious what else from this hyper arousal like, where do you see the overlap, I guess is what I’m actually asking.

Danica Harris 35:50
Like the overlap between like, complex PTSD and ADHD, do you

Kristen Carder 35:55
mind talking about it? It’s like so nuanced, and nobody’s really like Gabor Ma Tei is talking about it. But also, I think he goes really far to the end of like, nothing is ADHD, nothing is neurological. It’s all trauma, which may be but like, there’s not enough trauma therapists in the world to solve this. So like, we also need the lens of ADHD in the treatment of ADHD, I think, like I said, at the beginning to just have the ability to unpack what’s happening below the surface. So where do you see the overlap? Let’s even talking about like a child’s let’s describe like a child who’s maybe in a very chaotic, unpredictable environment, presenting with ADHD symptoms, but it’s maybe Complex PTSD or complex trauma instead.


Danica Harris 36:40
Yeah. I mean, I think even in the question, I’m like, oh, gosh, there’s there’s like, so much to say, and also, so much nuance here.

Kristen Carder 36:48
You know, it’s scary to talk about to talk about, isn’t it? Well, yeah, I

Danica Harris 36:51
mean, I want to start with saying like, it’s all real invalid, right? Like, yeah, just trauma play a role? Of course it does. Does that mean someone doesn’t have the symptomology of ADHD? No. Right. Like, so what I would say to a client, because this, this comes up for me a ton of my clients. So do you think I have ADHD? And I’m like, Yeah, maybe. And maybe it’s complex PTSD. And maybe it’s a combo, but I know, ADHD symptoms. They are real, they are Hellas. These are actual things that people can like, create coping skills around taking medication for have a treatment plan around. And if that means that it came from a non trauma factor, or it came from an experience that someone had either pre birth, early childhood development, or in their, you know, developing years that led to the exact same symptoms, do I as the therapist care what the origin was? No. What I care about is, here’s this human sitting in front of me that saying Help? Yeah, we need to treat the symptoms.

Kristen Carder 37:54
Yes. I, like I just want thunderous applause in the background of that statement, because this is exactly kind of where I’m landing. So I’m, I’m trying to read all the books, I’m trying to take all of the courses, I’m trying to learn all of the things so I can be the most trauma informed coach ever. And the more they learn about it, I’m like, Oh, my gosh, like, is it all true? But then I always come back to it doesn’t matter. What we’re dealing with are human adults who are really struggling. And I always I love just thinking it through the lens of like, we need the triage phase, we need the phase where we’re just like, let’s get this person to functioning as quickly and as easy for them as possible, whatever ways work for them. So that if they choose to do deeper healing, they’re able to and not everyone has the capacity for that.

Danica Harris 38:54
Exactly. Right. Yeah. Never has the capacity and not everybody has the access. Yes.

Kristen Carder 38:58
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Danica Harris 40:58
Well, and I think, you know, there’s so much that plays into someone’s trauma experience. And so there’s going to be so much that plays into their healing, too. It’s not, it’s not only like, you know, our access to resources and time and capacity. It’s also like, do I like how does that serve me? You know, how does it serve me to like, take a deeper dive and like, you know, if someone isn’t well resourced, first, kind of like what you’re saying, right? Like, if they’re, if the resilience isn’t there like that. And I mean, surviving trauma is resilience work. I mean, people are very resilient. 100% have to be and that’s what’s so awful. You know, we get tired of being resilient because that was something that we’re like really looking at like, Okay, well, I can embark on this journey to like, understand myself more, it’s like, Well, can I do that in a way that doesn’t then cause me more trauma, because I think sometimes people will like deep dive, I see this, but some of the trauma modalities that people use, that therapists use, it’s like people will go like headfirst into the deep end of their trauma. And they feel way more wrecked than they did with whatever coping skills they had in place. And it’s like, sometimes we need seasons of therapy or seasons of healing work, like can we take the edge off a little bit? And then like, maybe we’ll get to do a real big chunk at some point. And maybe we won’t, but then it’s all good. You know, no matter what we’re doing, like to heal to be more congruent with ourselves to have more access to ourselves. That’s good work. And it doesn’t really matter. Like, if we like, arrive somewhere or not, it’s like, do I feel better than I did? And the answer should be yes.

Kristen Carder 42:29
Okay, I love that so much. And I want to loop this back to what you said at the beginning, when you were describing like, you kind of deciding to work with maybe like a really difficult client group. And you’re saying that maybe that was a trauma response. And I wonder if you think that kind of like going full force into trauma therapy and being like, I’m going on cover everything is also a trauma response. And you’re nodding, so like, what?

Danica Harris 42:58
Yeah, you know, oh, gosh, I mean, I love us. I love trauma survivors, I love the intensity with which we want to heal. And, you know, urgency as a trauma response, and perfectionism as a trauma response and desiring to have all of it figured out and all the answers and to maximize opportunity, like these are trauma responses. It’s like, How can I be the best at something, because if I’m the best at something, or if I master something, or whatever language someone might use, then then I can look at that as my worth and value and I don’t have to think of my trauma as like who I am, right? It’s like a counterbalance. We’re trying to like, well, this, this trauma means less because I’m this like, I’ve achieved I know, I’ve mastered something like look at who I’ve become, in spite of my trauma. Yeah, like, we don’t need to be a hero in our own story, we just need to be our own central character. And the truth is, like, as we sit here, today, we are all of it.

Kristen Carder 43:54
So I’ve done EMDR a couple times. And the last time that I went back to my therapist, and threw a temper tantrum, as I described earlier, one of the things I said was, I don’t want to do EMDR anymore, because it feels like a performance. And I can’t, like I feel like I have to be good at it. And I feel like you’re gonna get sad if I don’t have a memory and I don’t have any memories. I don’t want to tell you, like, I’ve got like, I sounded like this. And I was like, I know, I hear myself, I’m sorry. But that is part of it for me is that perfectionism wanting to perform well, and really wanting her to have a good experience with me. Right? Like, let me take care of you therapist during this session. Like, if I don’t do a good job. I don’t want you to feel bad about yourself. Like oh, my goodness, Kristen, you know, like, I’m so conditioned for that. So being able to say that to her was really helpful. And it it was it was great. She handled it very well. She’s like we never have to do EMDR again, like I couldn’t care less. Thank you. I will go back. I know when I’m actually I’m sure. But like that that desire to perform and to please, is so deeply ingrained, and it shows up in the therapeutic space all the time.

Danica Harris 45:18
Absolutely, yeah. One, you know, it makes sense of itself in the therapeutic space too, because like you’re forming an attachment, or you have formed an attachment with your therapist. And so all of that attachment trauma is going to be present. And we’re going to project it and play it out. And it you know, without us even, like, necessarily knowing it’s there, it’s like, oh, yeah, of course, I want to please this person who I like, because I want them to like me, too. And that’s how I feel safer. It’s not just about the transaction of being liked or not like, it’s, I feel safer when someone likes me. And so I’m trying to find insecure safety and every dynamic all of the time. Oh, that

Kristen Carder 45:52
is so true for me. If I can get her to laugh.

I’m like,

I’ve arrived. My whole body is like, you did it. Kristen, you did it. I feel like the crown goes on my head. The sash goes over. I’m like, You’re funny. And she likes you. It feels so good. But it’s exactly what you’re describing, like, I feel seen and known and safe. When someone can can relate to me in that way.

Danica Harris 46:24
Yeah, well, I think I’ve been talking about this a lot. I feel like in my therapeutic spaces, I see my clients long term because complex trauma, healing tends to be long term work. And I find at some point in our therapy process it, it almost always comes up that I’m learning something about something that like other people might think is mundane. So like, you know, what someone likes to eat, or what they like to cook or a book they like to read or you know, podcasts, they listen to whatever and and I think like there’s a part of me that really wonders what would probably like previous professors say about this, you know, that I’m spending this therapeutic, and I’m in private practice. So people are paying out of pocket to see and, you know, there’s an argument you made, right, is that good therapy. And I think to myself, like, you know, what I think is good therapy, every single moment, the person is feeling like a full and complete self. When you’re telling me about something you enjoy, and I’m getting to learn about you and you’re getting to hear and see my responses to your humanity. That’s good therapy. That’s good trauma healing work, because your nervous systems beginning to tolerate what it’s like to be in like the quote unquote, normal life. Yeah, not in eyesight freeze, like this right here, right now having a conversation with an interested person. And that’s, again, how we begin to learn how to have healthy, reciprocal connections outside, you know, therapy is where we learned how to get our needs met, so that we can go out into the world and actually get our needs met.

Kristen Carder 47:51
It’s like, it’s, it’s the playground, yes for it, right? And then it’s like, oh, it’s supposed to be like this. And then you go out into your other relationships. And you’re like, Well, why isn’t this the same? What’s different here? Right? Yeah, that’s so interesting. One of the things that my therapist would say to me at the beginning, when we were first starting, she said it, she’s probably said it quite a bit. And I was always so taken aback. I would ask her a question. Or I would say something. And she would say, you don’t need

to take care of me. And I’ll be like,

What do you like, I don’t know how to exist in a relationship. If I don’t need to take care of the person. So I understand what you’re saying here. And she said that quite a bit. And me realizing like, oh, yeah, I did just ask her about, like, you know, how was your whatever? I don’t know, I don’t even remember specific examples, but it was always me kind of showing up. How are you lead? She would just she just knew because she knew enough of from my, from what I would tell her, you know, like, Kristen cannot take care of me in this relationship like that is going to be so counterintuitive to the healing journey. And it’s been so helpful to have that model. It’s so helpful to be like, there are certain relationships where I don’t where it’s inappropriate for me to take care of the other person.

Danica Harris 49:24
Exactly. Yeah, I think inappropriate to provide care, right? Like, but also like acknowledging the part of you that that comes up and it’s like, well, I want a caretaker that’s what feels normal to me. And it’s a in safe exactly understanding what’s motivating that like a Well part of it taking care of other people is not only to secure safety like well, if I’m caretaking then like I can, like have some control over how this goes. Yeah. But also I’m like demonstrating my worth and value to this person. Yeah, they won’t leave me so it’s also about attachment, you know, potential rejection, abandonment here to

Kristen Carder 49:58
talk to me a little bit about a time attachment because I think it’s it’s a, it’s a term like attunement, that gets thrown around a lot by therapists. And I don’t know that like, the general population of humanity truly understands what attachment is. When I think about attachment, what I think about is, like, prior to having gone through therapy, what I would have thought about is like Attachment Parenting, where you’re like, wearing your baby, and perhaps like trying to safely co sleep and like all of that. And what’s interesting is that I tried to practice attachment parenting, and I was the worst at it. The worst? And so I’m interested to hear from you. How do you describe attachment? And what why does it matter? Why do attachments matter?

Danica Harris 50:51
Yeah, I think you know, attunement, and attachment, they kind of go hand in hand, right? So like, attachment is when I need you, are you there? So thinking back to that, like, you know, what ends up happening for a lot of complex trauma survivors? It’s like, are you there? transactionally? When really, it’s about are you there emotionally? Are you there in a way where we can, or I can count on you to not only be available, be responsive, but be attuned all of those things, right? It’s like, in order for healthy, insecure attachment to be there to be intact, then there has to be attunement, like that’s a factor of attachment.

Kristen Carder 51:27
I, I think that for me personally, and then the way that I showed up was if I am physically present, then an attachment can form. Right? Like if I’m physically present, then there’s no neglect happening if I’m physically present, which physical presence and emotional presence are so different? Yep. Yep. So so, so different, but in

Danica Harris 51:52
physical presence is important, right? So like, you know, object permanence like, I can see you here you are, you exist for me. But you know, if you ask people in unhealthy adult relationships, like do you ever feel lonely, they’re more likely to feel lonely when they’re partnered with the wrong person than when they’re completely alone. Yeah, and proximity to a person says, Well, this should feel good. I should feel attune to I should feel met, this should be exactly what I need and want and it’s not. And that we’re actually likely more likely to feel lonely than if we’re just by ourselves. Because then our system knows it attuned self to self, it knows, well, of course, I’m lonely. There’s no one here. But if someone’s here, and I’m lonely, it’s like, Whoa, now I don’t know if I can trust me or them. And so a version of that happening in childhood to like, if I see you physical proximity, you’re here, but then emotionally, I’m left with feelings and nowhere to put them or no one’s listening to my feelings or checking in with me, I’ve got this energy that like isn’t matched anywhere, then it leaves the child kind of swirling in their own internal experience, while also trying to understand well, what’s going on for you that you’re not available? So mom, I can see you or parent, caregiver, whomever I can see you. But But where are you really, you know, so now I’m dealing with whatever’s happening for me internally, and also whatever’s happening for those around me externally.

Kristen Carder 53:18
So now let me perform or take care of you, or meet your needs caregiver, so that potentially maybe I can get my needs met eventually?

Danica Harris 53:29
Exactly. Yeah. Or at least so I can have a sense of where Okay. Hmm, it may not even about I mean, sometimes it is about the child trying to get their own needs met. And sometimes it’s just about like, Can this settle enough?

Kristen Carder 53:43
Sure. Sure. That makes a lot of sense. I wanted to I wrote down a couple of things from your Instagram account that I absolutely love. And one of the things that I wanted to ask you about was relational trauma, and feeling triggered in relationship now and deciphering. Is this about the relationship interaction that I’m having right now? Or is my Am I having an emotional flashback? Really, to something that happened in the past? How do you work with clients to decipher whether the reaction is I don’t know if appropriate, is the right word, like appropriate to the the here and now situation? Or am I having a really large reaction? Because I have a lot of trauma surrounding this one relational issue. Yep. Oh, yeah. I clear as mud. I feel like that was really nosy

Danica Harris 54:46
I totally I totally follow you because then we have to talk about so I think of it as a proportionate reaction. So is your reaction proportionate to the here and now circumstance? And if it’s not the And that tells us there’s activation from the past that’s here in the present. And so, you know, this, of course, happens in therapy, someone walks in, and they’re like, here’s this thing that happens, I saw you last. And so and I don’t tend to be like heavy in content, or you know, my session, so tend to be a lot of story. We’re trying to work more in the hair. Now we’re trying to increase, you know, stability, and here, no awareness, and body based stuff. But you know, someone will come in and I can see their activation when they’re telling me a story. And I’m, you know, here, I am not activated, because I’m sitting over here, I didn’t experience this thing they experience. And I’m kind of watching what happens in their body, and then their tone of voice, and then their eye contact, and then their motor movements as they tell the story. And if it feels to me, like it’s disproportionate, I might highlight that. And I might say to them, like, tell me about the injustice that you felt here? Because I want to know, like, and, you know, we’ll tell on ourselves all the time, or traumatism is really, you know, it’s like, so if the person’s like, Well, I really just didn’t like that. They said this, because it made me feel XYZ. Well, that tells me it’s a little bit more about like, what’s happening right here right now. But if it’s like, well, they always do this, or, you know, this always happens to me where bla bla bla bla, or if it’s like, the thing that the injustice is, it’s like a categorical injustice. It’s like, no one ever respects me, you know? Yeah. Okay, so what the reaction you’re having right now is about I’m never respected, and the reaction is not about so and so did XYZ. So so doing XYZ matters, and it impacted you. But the way in which it impacted you is that it layered on top of a history of disrespect. So really, what we’re sitting here right now is a reaction to disrespect. So let’s, let’s actually talk about that. And, you know, at that point, I kind of pushed the story aside, because like that story was just the utility to get to the disrespect. And we might return to that later. But really, you know, helping someone to see that how much of our reaction right now is impacted by what we’ve been through in the past, helps them to begin to do that for themselves. And so what I’m always encouraging someone to do is when you notice activation, check in is this about right here right now? Or is this about something thematic? Is this about a time in the past when this has also happened is this is about a collection of people who have done the same thing,

Kristen Carder 57:18
right? Again, your use of the word theme, I think is so important, because do you find that certain clients come with certain themes, because that word is really powerful for me, and I haven’t heard it in the therapeutic context or related to complex trauma. But for me, like, if I were to take 30 seconds, I think I could name like three or four main themes. And then I think I could also point to specific fights that I have, with my partner who’s not perfect, but he’s like, pretty great. And the fights that we have are usually related to those specific themes.

Danica Harris 58:03
Yep. I think it’s all about themes, honestly, you know, I, maybe some of this is informed back to like my initial work with perpetrators, you know, one of the things that, you know, they went, and I’m using that that term, because that was the term that was the I’m using the word perpetrator to describe people who caused other people harm in intimate relationships, one of the things that would come up is they would often discuss in this group about their transaction. So like, she got mad at me because I didn’t do dishes. And when she got mad at me, I responded in some sort of, like, physical way. Yeah. And I would suggest it was not about the dishes, but they’d be hooked into, but it was about the dishes. And I’m like, Hmm, it’s really about the fact that like, The dishes were the catalyst for this theme that existed for the other person. And you know, when we’re doing our own healing work, we shouldn’t necessarily be worried about other people’s themes, or you know, what’s happening for them now, relationally, we can do that. But like in our therapeutic work, it’s important to go like, what’s this really about for me? Because if I learn that there is a theme that underlies all of my interpersonal grievances, then I’m going to be able to address the core wound. Yeah, and I’m not putting out fires, you know, when we’re in the like, you know, can’t this this fight or this story, or this context or this circumstance, we’re putting out fires all the time. But if we’re in the like, oh, you know, what really gets me when someone doesn’t treat me with respect, or when I feel like I’m not being heard. Or when someone invalidates me, those are things that really get to me. And if I know that that’s it, then that’s a theme I can work on in therapy. And it’s something that I can notice when situations arise, I can go okay, so this big reaction I’m having, it’s not just about what so and so said, it’s about uh huh. I’m feeling disrespected again, or I’m feeling invalidated again. And when I feel invalidated, every experience of invalidation is online. Yes, my reaction is likely to be big.

Kristen Carder 59:59
Oh, it’s so good. Read. It’s so good. And it is also so hard because there has to be a really healthy dose of self awareness and support. Yes, like it’s very rare. I think that people can kind of get to this on their own. And so there has to be like access, and the ability, like even the cognitive space to be able to have these conversations. But that that language of theme is so good. I want to share something that happened yesterday, I was on my way to church as you do. And I couldn’t find the thing. I just I needed to find the thing, and I couldn’t find the thing. And I called my husband and he didn’t pick up and my body

was like, there is no one who will help me. Yeah,

I’m always alone. There’s no one ever here to help me. It was I needed to find the brochures, like it was not a big deal. It’s brochures. It’s not a big deal. I couldn’t find them. And I call my husband, and he didn’t pick up and my whole body was like you’re alone. No one’s ever there to help you. Is that true? Right. But that is a that’s like the theme that just came in, it overtook me. And so immediately, because I really enjoy being angry, it’s a lot easier than being like sad or forlorn, or, you know, distraught over it. So like, getting all huffy, and you know, like, I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind, when I get to church, I understand the irony. And I was able to notice, like, this familiar feeling, I don’t think this is about right now, like, that is about him, like not being able to pick up the phone. He is there for me all the time. Right, him not picking up the phone is on an indicator that I am alone. But had I not had the privilege of three years of consistent therapy, I wouldn’t have just been so mad at him when I got to church, and that I would have ruined, I would have ruined some stuff. It’s so fascinating.

Danica Harris 1:02:07
When you were talking, I had chills as you were saying this, like when you went to the place of like, I’m all alone. For me, you know, it’s like, wow, like, I hear that sentence. And I’m like, wow, how young were you? And you don’t have to answer this. But like, there’s stuff in me. It’s like, how young were you when you adopted that perspective? Like I’m alone in this world? And like, look at how quick we can access that developmental stuff. You know, like, you know, and you had to do the work in the moment. Here’s my developmental stuff. And maybe you didn’t use this language, but that’s what you did. Right? And developmental stuff is this. And here I am in the transaction of like, he just didn’t answer the phone. And there could be a million reasons he didn’t answer the phone. And the brochures, you know, you put in perspective, the brochures, maybe it’s not that big of a deal. Like it’s maybe an annoyance, maybe I’m a little like a, but like, is it catastrophic? Am I really alone? Like no, in this moment, I feel alone, and I feel alone because of this developmental thing that comes up inside of me.

Kristen Carder 1:03:03
I have it. So first of all, thank you. And yes, yes, yes. And I heard this quote that said, I don’t live in the past, the past lives in me. Exactly. And oh, my gosh, that is so resonant. Because, you know, I was probably five, like, I can think of it, I can think of the moment when I was like, Oh, I’m alone. And like I’m in charge here really is what it was. And and I’m 43 No, how old am I I’m 42 my dad tells me you’re in your 40s that telling me I’m 22 years old. And I’m being able to feel that feeling immediately from you know, 30 plus years ago, like that’s wild. And how often are we all operate? Are we operating out of that? Right? And how often are our traumas just kind of colliding with one another? You know, and in these relational conflicts, sometimes it is my own trauma sometimes it’s you know, my husband’s or my my kids and and deciphering. Like our I like your word proportionate. Are our reactions proportionate? Was my reaction to not being able to find the brochures and then like Greg not picking up proportionate to like, I can’t find the brochures? No. And they were at the church. So whenever like, everything was fine. And I talked myself down off the ledge. I was like, they’re probably there. It’s not a big deal. If they’re not there this week, that can be there next week. But in that moment, you’re like, I’m alone. I’m five years old. Nobody’s here to help me. Yep.

Danica Harris 1:04:52
It’s wild. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I love this example because what you naturally did yesterday is you pet and deleted yourself, you were you were in your trauma response. And then you came back to the hearing now, and then your trauma responses present. And then you soothed yourself by saying like, well, here’s the outcome, like, they’re probably at the church, or they can do it next week, you know. And so you allowed yourself to kind of ride the wave of that activation, as opposed to this is what people will do is they will reject the younger self. And they will then reject the here and now self. So rather than rejecting either, and then both parts of you, you accepted both parts. And when we accept both parts, then it’s absolutely true that the past lives inside of you, but in a new way. So you provided for your five year old self yesterday, a corrective emotional experience.

Kristen Carder 1:05:41
Lots beautiful. So kudos to you.

That’s so beautiful. I, I appreciate you kind of laying that out. Because it’s really hard to when you’re experiencing it. It’s really hard to figure out what’s going on. And what’s cool about it is I did just kind of forget about it until we were having this conversation. So wasn’t sticking around, you know how things you don’t deal with just kind of like nagging at you and like I probably could have brought it up last night. And like, I called you and I couldn’t find that they you know, but like, because I had that ability. Because I’ve had the privilege of so much therapy, I had the ability to like self sues. It’s really uncomfortable. And I see why people don’t do it. And I see why people don’t interact with their trauma, because like, it’s hella uncomfortable. But it does prevent a lot of fights. It really does brands, a lot of bites, like we’re saving lives here.

Danica Harris 1:06:42
All right, well, because if we can unhook from the circumstance and look at, you know, the theme that exists inside of us, then it’s like, okay, well, now I can have a proportionate response with my partner, friend or child or whomever, right? Instead of having like my big trauma response at them. Yeah. And you said this a minute ago, you know, it’s like our trauma responses are connecting and colliding with other people’s trauma responses all the time. Yeah. And you know, sometimes it does feel like connection. It’s like, Oh, your trauma responses match my trauma responses, where they partner really well together, at some point that begins to feel like a collision, because it’s trauma response versus trauma response. And if instead, I’m able to go like, whoa, okay, I’m not having a proportionate response. Here. I’m having a trauma response. What’s my here now response? And let me talk about both of those with my partner, we invite them to do the same thing like all of us welcome here, you’re not going to take out your disproportionate response at me. Yeah. I’m gonna give you the respect. And, you know, I’m gonna honor this relationship enough that I don’t do that to you either. So we can name like Google, look at the story. I was just writing about being all alone and you didn’t answer the phone. And then I checked it, I checked myself and I soothed younger me, and I said, Okay, I’m feeling alone, but I’m not alone. So what do I need right now to get through this, okay? The brochures will be fine if they come the next week, and maybe they’re already at the church. So you treated your hair now self with what you actually needed, which it sounds like a little bit of planning, which, you know, you did that, then it worked out, okay? But you did that without disregarding the trauma response, or disregarding the relationship that you have good.

Kristen Carder 1:08:21
If you are loving this podcast, would you take a moment and share it with a friend, there are so many people in the world who need to know that they are not a problem. And I know that there are a lot of people in your life who would benefit from hearing these conversations with therapists and coaches about how to establish a healthy sense of self and create better relationships. So take a moment and share this episode with someone that you respect. It’ll be like a beautiful free gift from you to them. And if you’d like to share it to your socials, make sure to tag me at I have ADHD podcast and maybe even today’s guest so that we can both say thank you to you and give you a virtual hug. All right, back to the show. Look at me, is it possible that I’m like, on the road to healing? Here’s a question that I have. I just finished the book.

What my bones now by 72. Have you read it yet?

Danica Harris 1:09:21
I just started it myself. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 1:09:25
Yeah, she talks a lot

about I really appreciate what she talks about because she talks a lot about how long it takes and how you’re never really done. And that’s annoying. And I’m wondering if you could counteract her claims. And tell me a different version because I don’t like that version. I want to have a destination and I don’t ever want these, that five year old version of me to come up. I just want her to like I want to put her to bed Get in a really cozy, comfy, safe place. I don’t want her to ever come back. Is that possible? Question mark?

Well, you say yes.

Danica Harris 1:10:09
I want to tell you. Yeah. So I think she’s right. I mean, I don’t know that there’s like a destination. But I also think we can look at it as like, there’s a ton of tiny destinations along the way, like yesterday was a destination point for you, the way you treated responded to yourself as a destination. Now, is it a final place to land? No. But like, arguably, even if we’re not talking about trauma, like we’re not landing in any one place? Yeah, ever, you know, we’re always we’re always developing, we’re always growing. We’re always learning. You know, even if you have a hobby. You’re even if you master a hobby, you’re probably still like fine tuning it like Yes, something different. You’re, you’re exploring a different side of it, you know what I mean? So like, you’re not just like, well, now I’ve mastered a hobby, I never do a hobby, again, like no, and then outside. It’s the same with healing. Like, we’re always growing, we’re always learning, there’s tons of small destinations along the way. And you know, the goal to me with like, what you’re saying about like five year old you like, the goal is to be able to leave the past in the past, but in a way that is so nurturing that when it feels active, or if it begins to speak to us again, that we go, okay, this is a sign that I need attention there. And we don’t like be mad at that part of us, or we don’t reject younger parts of us, right. It’s like, as we become more congruent, as we, like, show up for ourselves more and more, the five year old will come crying to us less than less. But let’s not say, Hey, you’re never welcome here again.

Kristen Carder 1:11:38
Yeah, it’s,

I appreciate that, because it kind of reminds me of the way that I spoke with my therapist last week, which is like, I’m mad, I’m here. I’m sick of doing this work, like I’m here because other people won’t go to therapy. And that’s really annoying, you know, like, that kind of thing where I’m just like mad about it, rather than being like, hi, I come back, you know. And I think that I could probably treat my younger self that way too. Like, you’re here again, like, I thought I dealt with you. What are you doing? You know?

Danica Harris 1:12:08
Yeah, we don’t have to disregard the inner parts of us. I think we’re like, oh, well, here you are, again, you must need something. Yeah. Let me attend to what you need. And then once your needs are met, you’ll kind of go back to where you belong in the past. And then if it need comes up, I want younger me to know, hey, I’m safe for you here. Because when when she didn’t have when she was younger, she needs and me now. And so I want that to feel like a reciprocal relationship. Like I’m here for you. I will, when you cut crying and you need me, I’m going to be responsive so that, you know, you don’t have to be as active anymore.

Kristen Carder 1:12:40
That’s beautiful. Would you mind telling me a little bit about somatic experiencing? It’s kind of like your favorite, right? Yeah, I

Danica Harris 1:12:50
love it a lot. It’s been like, I’ll tell people it’s like the answer for me personally and professionally. So I had never experienced it as a client when I started going into it professionally, so doing the training. But it’s interesting, it made a lot of sense to me right away, like I thought conceptually, oh, I’m gonna like this. And it’s not a therapeutic modality. It’s like something that anyone can adopt and use, which is one of the things I like about it, it feels more accessible than some of the other you know, like, EMDR is great. I’m trained in EMDR. But it’s not something someone can use outside of therapy, and then fully therapists who are permitted to use it. It’s a good tool, but like, I wanted something that my clients could use that they could go home with. And that can be like, well, they practiced it in therapy, and now they’re doing it on their own. And so, just theoretically, that made sense to me, like, Okay, here’s this accessible thing. But then doing it, I started noticing, because I myself have had tons and tons of therapy, like 20 ish years of therapy, and, like, on and off, you know, but collectively about 20 years. And I was starting to get to this point where I was like, I need something more than like talking about stuff. Yes. And I was doing some body work already, like with massage therapists who were doing like energy work or Reiki and, and I was like, Okay, there’s something to like, what’s happening in my body some of these symptoms that I’m like, not totally able to explain. And so it kind of felt like to me, so when I experienced it was this beautiful mix of what I had trained in talk therapy, and then also like my history of touch, work with aesthetics. So I kind of knew these two things together and be like, yeah, there’s value in touch work, whether we’re actually touching someone or it’s a magical touch where we’re like, you know, maybe directing you to be in a part of your body and I’m here with you in it. Sure. So I just thought like, Okay, well there’s a lot of value in this and what I started noticing when I was in the training is that my own nervous system was being really really responsive to what we were doing so even by learning it and you have to do a lot of practice in somatic experiencing training and a lot of one on one sessions and with with SCPs and you have to do consultation and stuff like that. So my nervous system I was no To say it was like being really responsive to the variety of trainings and circumstances. And I think because I was getting to learn, you know, my brain was getting to learn firsthand, while my body was experiencing that created a lot of congruence for me, I was like, okay, my brain and body both like this, and they’re both responding. And I’m noticing more like cohesion between what my cognitive brain logical brain thinks and what my body is experiencing. And that helps me to feel more like myself. And I think because of that, I’m like, Oh, I love using this appliance, because I know firsthand, it works. And I know firsthand from like, learning it not even experiencing it as a client. So that helped me know, oh, if I can do this, like, I’m not magic or special any more than any other person is, if I can do this, like clients can do this, too. And it’s amazing to me to watch people’s systems respond so quickly, like we can work through something in a single session, sometimes that has been lingering for someone for weeks, years. Sure.

Kristen Carder 1:16:02
Yeah. When you talked about the disconnection of brain and body, I think that speaks volumes to the ADHD experience. And whether that is because of ADHD, or complex trauma, I’m not sure. But what I find with almost all of my clients, I mean, anecdotally speaking, is that it’s really hard for people with ADHD to connect to their bodies, is really hard to get aligned with what’s happening in my mind, and what’s happening in my body. And it’s really hard to trust myself, it’s hard to trust my body, it’s hard to trust, the experience that I’m having. And so much of the work that I do is like, helping them to get back into their bodies and, or even for the first time, and then helping them to like trust what’s coming up for them. Can you talk about what happens when we are disconnected and the value of being connected or aligned?

Danica Harris 1:17:17
Yeah, you know, whether we, whether this happens for, like an innate cognitive sharing, or biological reason, or whether this is a response to trauma, you know, a lot of times you will be disconnected because they’re so externally focused. Yeah. So I’m externally focused in order to stay safe for impression management, as a way of masking like, whatever the reason is, and so there becomes this, like reliance on being disconnected. So that it’s like a hard sell when we’re like, oh, well, you need to be connected, because it’s like, Well, wait, well, I lose my sense of safety. You know, I’ve done it this way, my whole life, like, you know, so what’s the value of going inward? Like, I already know me? Well, it’s like, well, you know, yourself from a top down perspective, you know, how to how to shape shift, you know, how to work your environment, that I’m like, you’re probably a master of that. But you know, do you know, when you’re hungry? Do you know, when you’re thirsty? Do you know, and, you know, folks with ADHD tend to be pretty disconnected from thirst and hunger cues from rest? 100% Yeah, you know, so I kind of want to start there, when I’m helping someone to like, just begin to shift back into your body. Like, let’s even talk about thirst. Let’s talk about hunger, like, how do you know when you need to go to the bathroom? And I’ll ask people that sometimes in session, and this was something that surprised me. So many of my clients would say, like, oh, I don’t, I don’t know when I need to go the bathroom until I’m like, it is an urgent.

Kristen Carder 1:18:38
And it’s so common for people with ADHD. In what, when it’s like emergency status, it’s like, Fine, I will listen to you be grudgingly right and take care of your needs.

Danica Harris 1:18:51
Right? And like, what if we didn’t do it begrudgingly? And what if we didn’t wait till we were a crisis? Right? You know, and to me, that’s why it’s like, you know, how do we how do we kind of convince someone that this is worthy? It’s like, what if you didn’t have to be putting out your own fires all the time? What if it’s like, you know, you give yourself enough care to say like, oh, with the first inkling of needing to go to the bathroom, I allow myself to go to the bathroom. Or if I like, you know, notice I’m thirsty. Like, let me tend to that thirst cue, let me make sure I’m nourishing and hydrating my body as I need to. And that’s the foundation for like, well being in general, like, just in my meeting my own basic needs. And I think it’s hard when we had a childhood where like, that was the only thing that happened, then it’s almost like we never learned to do that thing. Because we were so busy doing all the emotional attunement for ourselves. That’s interesting. Yeah, so it’s like, you know, being able to say like, well, how not only do I need water, but like, how do I know I need water? And, you know, I’ll like sit with someone in session and talk that through like, even as I’m saying this to you right now. I can feel my own thirst. Like, I need some water. Yeah. And you know, I think it’s like even learning that like, you know, When the mouth is dry, or when we’re salivating more like that, that means something. It’s not just like, Oh, weird, I have dry mouth, it’s like, there’s probably something going on that’s leading to that. And I think if we can approach all internal experiences through curiosity, we can see that like, oh, it means something, you know, like, if I feel feel a little like, discomfort in my belly, that that might be because I’m hungry. And I might need to nourish myself. And then I can get curious about like, what sounds good to me, to me today. And like, what, what’s even available to me, you know, and then I can like, learn about myself a little bit more. So then I come to learn, like, Oh, I’m the sort of person who likes to eat lunch at 11am instead of 1pm. Because that’s what tends to work best for my system, right? You know, and so then we’re like building this like awareness of ourselves so that we get even better at listening to the internal sensations that come up, it’s kind of like a time served practice, like, the more we do it, the better we get at it, and the more we want to do it.

Kristen Carder 1:20:57
So you said something that is really interesting to me, you said, sometimes we don’t pay attention to our own, just very basic needs, because that was the one thing that our parents took care of. And so like, we were so busy, taking care of the emotional needs in the family that we never really learned how to manage or our own basic needs. I’ve never thought about it through that lens. And I really appreciate that. And I’m wondering, if you also think that there would be a measure of a different perspective where it’s like, my needs were seen as burdens as a child’s, hypothetically speaking. And so like, anytime I did, you know, like, can we pull over, I need to go the bathroom or, you know, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty. Like, it was like, ah, like, you’re so much. And this is so hard. Would that be another reason why we would kind of like, damp in our awareness of our own basic needs. So it could be either, do you think?

Danica Harris 1:21:58
Absolutely, yeah, I mean, if we learned to, like, rely on them for something such that it was like, Well, this is how I am able, like, Oh, my caregivers good, I can see them as good because they do these things. And we preserve how we feel about them by letting them take care of all that. That’s one way. Another way. Like if our parent or caregiver gets irritated with us, when we have a need, or they you know, they respond negatively to our needs, we then learn to suppress our needs and become needless. But either way, we are likely to have this outcome where we’re not attuning to ourselves for an external reason. Yes.

Kristen Carder 1:22:39
And the work of somatic experiencing, would you say is an attunement to self,

Danica Harris 1:22:45
I think it’s an attunement to self, it’s also the completion of held responses in the body. So like, if I suppressed me, so like, let’s say, with your, your example you just gave, I learned to suppress my needs, I have to be needless because that’s how I stay safe. Well, what ends up happening is I’m probably not listening to a lot of things that are going on in my body. And so what’s maybe happening there is the internalized fight response, yes, and held. And so I might need and when we hold the fight response, we don’t finish the fight response, you know, fight flight freeze, if we don’t show these responses, they get turned inward on us. So a held fight response ends up being like, Well, I’m not allowed to have needs or I shouldn’t have needs or when I feel hunger, I’m mad at my body for being hungry. You know, it’s like, we’re, it’s this doubling down of like, oh, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t have this experience. So not only are we denying ourselves, and we’re mad at ourselves for having like, very basic human experiences. So in order so with somatic experiencing, we need to complete that fight response so that the fight response can become external. So like, it might be I need to like yell, it might be I need to like run it might be, I need to like exert a lot of physical energy right here right now. It might be crying. I mean, Hellfire responses can come out in a variety of ways. And once we allow ourselves to have that catharsis, once the release happens, then we’re able to actually be a little bit more present in our body because that defense isn’t there.

Kristen Carder 1:24:18
When you say held fight response, do you mean a fight was like a fight response would be natural in this circumstance, but I’m suppressing it. Yes. To keep myself safe. Yeah. So like

Danica Harris 1:24:29
the No, of course, like I’m gonna say this. And it’s like, well, this actually wouldn’t be relationally appropriate, but when a child so if a let’s let’s say you’re on a road trip, and the child says I need to go to the bathroom, and the parent says no, we’re not stopping right. Probably needs to happen in that moment is a flight response. A child needs to have something Yes, I need to go potty. They need to get out of the car. Yeah. And they’re not able to. So there’s this feeling of being trapped. Yes, that gets like coded inside the body. So then When this theme comes up where they feel trapped in any way, relationally physically, whatever that flight response where they just need to flee, they need to get out of there isn’t able to happen. And so with somatic experiencing, we might be able to help them move through the flight response so that maybe they’re telling this story. And I might say to them, what did you want to do with car and the child or the adult who’s telling me about the child experience? Say, I wanted to have wings, so I could fly out of that car, and I’m saying, Have the wings, flap the arms, let’s move as if we’re flying. And I want you to imagine yourself flying up out of that car and getting to the bathroom? And what did you want to say to them as you were flying away? But like, Screw you? Why aren’t you saying to me, so now that’s what we’re doing in the therapy. We’re, we’re flapping our arms where we’re saying screw you, we’re saying I found the bathroom. And I took care of me because you did it. So now I’m able to move through for the younger self, despite the spite response that was held the slight response that was held, and there can be a catharsis so that you feel validated in the here. Now, here’s what I needed that they didn’t provide for me.

Kristen Carder 1:26:09
You’re blowing my mind?

I really appreciate it. I know, I don’t have to take care of you. But I do want to say you’re blowing my mind. I have another question. Which is, do you suspect that the freeze response is held? Fight or flight responses?

Danica Harris 1:26:29
So there’s depending on the like theory, you read about, like people have different experiences and interpretations of freeze response, somatic experiencing? Well, in polyvagal theory, we’ll talk about the freeze response as activation. So like, a lot of times people think it’s like the absence of activation. But really, they’ll they’ll think of it as activation to just equal as so I’m, like drawing for you right now. Like above the window of tolerance. There’s fight flight and freeze, and freeze is about social engagement.

Kristen Carder 1:27:01
Oh, like withdrawing from that? Is that what you mean?

Danica Harris 1:27:05
Yeah, or like you and I are talking and let’s say I’m starting to feel something come up inside of me as we’re talking, I might have a momentary freeze. And it might get layered on top of fight or flight. Or it might be like, I feel some shame coming up. And shame is profoundly activating. It’s a very, very active activating. So a lot of times with Freeze, there’s something that’s like, I’m bad, or like, I’m not good enough, that comes up for people relationally. So when I’m engaging with another person, I might feel Freezy that’s that’s kind of how I think of it. It’s like, there’s a little free tennis and people work through freeze all the time. Like, that’s, like going out into the world, I see people that are like in a free state chronically. It’s like, it’s almost a mind numbing. Like, I’m here, but I’m not here that like, people often miss and it freezes a really common response to neglect because again, that’s social engagement. You’re not there for me. So I’m, I’m kind of trapped in

Kristen Carder 1:28:03
the trapped theme is so interesting. I, I’m going to share another story, but don’t worry is, as I think it’s okay to share. The other day, we had a door to door salesmen come to our door. And we were sitting down eating dinner, and I answered the door. And I was like, Oh my gosh, and he would not go like I was like, we’re good. We don’t need it. No, thank you. And he just kept going and going and going in a sales pitch. And I felt so trapped. Yep. And I was activated because of that for like 48 hours afterwards. Like I was not okay. And my husband kind of pointed back to that moment. He was like, you hate feeling trapped. Like, is like, is this kind of activating you because of that trapped feeling and I was like, I could not get away from this person. And I felt the duality of on a punch him in the face. And I need to just stand here and just take it and just be fine so that I’m not rude. Like why do I care? I’m not sure. Like why couldn’t I just be like, I hate to interrupt you but like no thank you and just like close the door like I could not get myself to do it. And I was like having this out of body experience where I was watching myself like you are a grown woman. Tell him you’re not interested in closer and literally like he was asking how many square footage is your house I’m like, I’m not comfortable shit. Like he was like going and going and going and going and I could not escape is how I felt. And it was such an activation of I’m trapped, which is so wild. To be like grown Professional I don’t know, educated, like I should be able to just be like, No, thank you. And like, kindly. I could just be like, you’re great. Like, he was adorable. He was smart. He really hadn’t great salesmen. I wanted to eat my tacos. And I wanted him to leave. This is my house. Right. But the feeling of being trapped, it would not leave my body for for days.

Danica Harris 1:30:24
Yeah, I think this is a really profound example, because you’re talking about held fight response. So I just I like I wanted to decline and say, I want to tell you my tacos, but I didn’t. Yes. So then, and I didn’t because of freeze. Like, I don’t want to be rude. I don’t I don’t I’m worried about my own sense of safety. Should I, you know, or how’s he will perceive me? Right. So that social engagement piece, how will he perceive me if

Kristen Carder 1:30:49
my family sitting at the table as well? So, too, yeah,

Danica Harris 1:30:53
yeah. So there’s your onstage people are watching. Yes, yeah. So now I’m not getting to honor my authenticity or my autonomy, because I’m worried about the performance of how people are going to experience me Yeah. Freeze than the fight responses held. I didn’t get to release this and just say, No, thank you. Goodbye. Yeah. Right. And then you have the the 48 hours, the residual feelings that come up, why couldn’t I just shame and self rejection that gets layered on top of these really intense trauma responses that came up for you, like, because you weren’t a trauma response. And we can’t expect our body in a trauma response to do with logical, it’s doing what receives a safe. It’s so hard

Kristen Carder 1:31:37
to remember that this is actually a beautiful design. And as opposed to happen, and it’s, it is like, that was the safest option to just smile and nod and people please him it was it was the safest option. But then I judged myself for it. And I’m just like, you’re, you know, like, you’re not as far along in your healing as you thought you were, if you can’t just tell a 20 year old dude. You know, like, I’m twice his age, I am sure. Like, why can’t I just stand in my authority and my autonomy and just say, like, thank you very much. But I’m not interested in close the door and go back to my tacos, but I it was the performance and the stage. And, yeah, it was fascinating.

Danica Harris 1:32:22
Yeah. Yeah. So why couldn’t you because you already felt trapped? Yeah, that’s why you couldn’t.

Kristen Carder 1:32:28
And when I feel trapped, my body knows exactly what to do.

Danica Harris 1:32:32
Yeah. And thank goodness, it knows how to do that. Now. It’s not adaptive in this circumstance, right. But if you had actually been in danger, you would have wanted these responses to be there. Sure.

Kristen Carder 1:32:41
Yes, they did keep me very sane. Now, I’m very charming because of it. Um,

I saw that you had a retreat. And I’m wondering if that’s something that you do often, if you have retreats coming up, because I would like every single listener, to go to one of your retreats.

Danica Harris 1:33:02
I would love that.

Kristen Carder 1:33:05
Okay, let’s, let’s make that happen. Make it happen.

Danica Harris 1:33:08
This has been one of the coolest things ever, like, professionally, this is probably the project I’m like, most pleased of, in the totality of my time as a therapist, um, we had our first one in April. And it is something that my co owner of my practice, my private practice, her name is Brittany, we’re good friends, we only practice together, we’re leading these retreats together. She’s also in somatic experiencing training right now. And we just felt like, there needs to be a place for people systems to have more time. You know, and like human said earlier, something about like the the one hour of therapy, right? And it’s like, yeah, okay, one hour versus the entire week or every other week, you know, depending on how often people are accessing therapy, you can do good work. I mean, I’m a therapist, I think good work can be done in therapy. I also know that there’s limitations there because like, my clients are coming in and you know, they’ve maybe been at work or they’re coming in on their lunch break, they’re going back to work, or they’re a parent, so I’m getting them at some point in their day. And the minute they leave, they’re going back into their parent, or we’re meeting virtually, and it’s like they the minute they’re done here, they’re gonna go fold some Lawn Tree or right so I’m getting I’m getting them for at most 16 minutes of their week. And I’m trying to deal with them in that moment. We’re trying to attune to one another. And that work is really good, but it takes time. A retreat allows someone to come into a space where they know the intention is healing. That’s, that’s what we’re here to do. And so just even arriving and folks said this at the April retreat, just even arriving there and knowing everyone in this room has experienced trauma. And that’s not actually what we’re even here to talk about. We’re here to talk about healing. Everyone said like, it’s amazing how like close I already feel to the people in this space that didn’t like an appropriate way not in a way where people were like beginning to over disclose We’re like, well, I’m going to community right now with my peers, and Brittany and I and then Myrna Kay is another therapist, in our practice, she’s at the end of her Somatic Experiencing training. She’s leaving a couple small pieces during the retreat, and she’s at the retreat the whole time. So she actually stays, and she’s like the retreat house mom. So when a therapist who is trained somatic work available 24 hours a day while they’re in that kind of stuff. So it was really important to us in the design, we wanted to make sure it was trauma informed from start to finish, like, we want you to come and be safe in this space. And we also want you to know you’re going to be held by people who have done this work themselves by people, all of us identify as trauma survivors, we all have been on our own journey of healing, none of us think we’ve arrived, we’re further along in the process than other folks, we want to share the Wisdom with them, we also want folks to feel like they can have a space to like, not go do something for someone else. So many of us got conditioned to be caretakers that here’s the retreat, like we’re taking care of you, the housings covered, all of the meals and snacks are taken care of, we’ve got the structure laid out, you know, you’ve got you’ve got your room and space is everything’s taken care of. So you get to come and like actually just be and for some folks, that is an experience like a retreat, it’s the first time they’ve ever gotten to do that in their life. Wow. So it, it was such a profound and amazing experience in April that we were like, Okay, we have to do this again. This was so great. And really like we’re a little I guess we’re like two and a half months out from the next one. It’s October, October 12 is the first day. And I found myself even yesterday, like feeling all of this excitatory activation around ever. I was like, Oh yeah, I’m feeling so excited about the healing community coming together again, and just this new, we’ve had a few people registered, I’m like starting to be getting calls with them and stuff like that. And I’m like feeling the excitement of the energy that’s going to be in the space and really just knowing that, like, people want to do deep and meaningful healing work, it just needs to be available to them. Yes, I love that we’ve we’ve put this out there in the world, and that people are interested in it, and that it gets to be a space where people can be held. Maybe for the first time.

Kristen Carder 1:37:10
So beautiful. It’s so beautiful.

It feels very nurturing, what you’re describing feels like a really nurturing environment to be able to then have the safety to do some deep work. How long is it? And what are the things I’ve heard you talk about, it’s just like the fear of engaging with your own emotion and your own body. Like, if someone is listening, and they’re like, this sounds like exactly what I need. But I am way too scared to like, take a step like this. What would you say to someone like that?

Danica Harris 1:37:46
Yeah, I would say that, either. They’re a little bit of fears. Okay. And we should we should probably from an adaptive perspective, be afraid of something new and different? Sure. It fear doesn’t mean danger. Fear doesn’t mean threat. So I would say like low honor, the fear that comes up in you, and is your fear proportionate to the experience. So I can have fear and also know, I’m not in danger. And then you know, going to this retreat might be exactly what I’m needing at this particular stage of my healing. And I would say, call me, let’s talk it through what are your actual, you know, because I might be able to help you work through a fear. I talked to someone a couple days ago, their fear was I don’t want to talk about all of my trauma and hear about other people’s trauma. I said, Well, good news, we’re not doing that. To do, we’re not excavating a bunch of trauma, we’re introducing a lot of healing. goal here is restoration. It’s coming back home to yourself, it’s building your own internal resources, so that you have capacity to go home and function a little bit better. What I would hate is for people to come here, let’s dig a bunch of stuff up. And then you know, three, back your life like that would that would not be trauma informed. That would be dangerous. Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely not what we’re doing. In fact, most of the people who attended the April retrieved the only reason I have any sense of their trauma is because Brittany and I do a private call with with everyone one on one before they before they come to the retreat that we have a sense of, if something if you become dysregulated. At the retreat, we have an idea of what traumas you’ve had, so that one can go meet with them one on one, and make sure that they can feel stabilized before they rejoin the group.

Sounds like a dream.

It’s, it was so great. I’m so excited. It’s somatic work. Like I said, I just I love it so much. And I’m hearing I’m continuing just two days ago, I heard from someone who attended the April retreat, who shared this long list of things with me about what they’ve noticed, since they’ve been home and what they’ve been able to work on and they’re setting boundaries with people. They’ve gotten further in their therapy than they’ve gotten in the last 10 years. And, you know, it’s not because this is magic. It’s because like beginning to attune to yourself, yeah, helps you want to attune to yourself more and so come into it. Let us help you do it. Let us help You’d be gentle to yourself. And then you’ve got these a new set of tools to go home with.

Kristen Carder 1:40:05
And I think to just honoring like, it’s, it’s more than just like one hour a week, like giving your body and brain that space to have time. Like, we just need time and our world is just really moving quickly. And that’s the world that we live in. And so like, okay, here we are. But if you can carve out that space, that sounds really incredible.

Danica Harris 1:40:31
Yeah, well, even being able to drop in, right, so like, I kind of think of as like one on one therapy, or one hour therapy, it’s like, we can drop in like maybe 25%. Like I can, I can settle into some Yuck, I can feel some stuff, I can, you know, I can unbutton myself just a little bit, but then I have to be able to put it all back together. So I can get my car and drive

Kristen Carder 1:40:49
through, like zip it all that function with a smile, right, which

Danica Harris 1:40:55
again, there’s there’s value in that, right, we need to do that part of the titrated model, we need to be able to do a little bit at a time, so that eventually we can do more, but that we can do titration it at a retreat to it’s like, well come and settle in. And like the first day I could feel it. Everyone’s energy was kind of hovering there. We’re like, can I settle in? Like, can I actually like, bring up their chair. And by By the second day, I mean, people were like, laid back and like leaning and like laying laying on the couch. And and I it was assigned to me that their physical body was beginning to settle into the space. And we got too much paperwork that way.

Kristen Carder 1:41:29
Oh, I bet. So amazing.

I appreciate you so much. I have loved every second of this conversation. And I appreciate your ability to like jump from teaching and talking into just like affirming things that I’ve done and kind of like almost like pointing things out. I just it was really helpful and healing for me. So thank you so much. Can you tell us how to find you how to sign up for your retreat, how to do all of the things with you.

Danica Harris 1:42:09
Yeah, so you can find me on my instagram page, the Empower therapist, and there’s a link in my bio to learn more about the retreat there folks can message me and we can engage in, you know, virtual or phone call conversation around that. I also have a private practice in Dallas. But there are 14 therapists in my practice. I’m not currently accepting new therapy clients, but many folks in my practice are trauma informed either have EMDR training, somatic experiencing training, internal family systems, that sort of thing. Even if folks don’t want to focus on trauma, we have other therapists that do other work as well. And the name of my practice is empowered healing Dallas, and some of our therapists are actually able to work across I think it’s like 36 states. Now, I was

Kristen Carder 1:42:55
gonna ask if there was availability like to work virtually?

Danica Harris 1:42:59
Yes, yes. All of our therapists do work virtually some see folks in our Dallas office, as well. And virtually Yeah, I think we’re up to like, I don’t know, somewhere between like 35 and 40 states that all of the psychologists in the practice can work with. That’s amazing. Yeah. So we’ve got the private practice my Instagram page, and then I also do some consulting and coaching and things like that as well. And so the Empowered is another place people can get in touch with me. Thank you.

Kristen Carder 1:43:29
And are you so happy that you got the handle the Empowered therapist? I am, you know, our Instagram? Like, how did you do that? Was it like 20 years ago that you got that?

Danica Harris 1:43:41
I think it’s because I started early? Yeah, I started my page in early 2018. A couple of us online. And it Yeah, I just like I thought to myself, like as a therapist, who am I? And I felt like what’s the theme of the therapeutic work? I do. And I thought, well, empowerment. I want people to feel empowered to be themselves. I’m not empowering them. They’re empowering themselves. Yeah. And the conduit through which they can do that. So I just I liked that name. And it was available. And there it is. I

Kristen Carder 1:44:10
can’t believe it was available. Like I’m now there are so many therapists on you know, on social and I’m like, wow, she must have gotten in the game early. Because that’s amazing. Anyway, that’s, that’s an aside. That’s an ADHD moment, but I’m so happy that you got that handle. Thank you, Danica. I appreciate you so much, you.

Thanks for listening to maybe I’m not the problem, a biweekly series of the I have ADHD podcast. For more information about today’s guest, check out the episode show notes where you can find their bio links and all the fun things. Make sure to like subscribe and add this podcast to your feed and then tune in every Tuesday for new episodes of The I have ADHD Podcast and I’ll be back here with you in two weeks for the next episode of maybe I’m not the problem.

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