On this episode of text.soul.culture, Dr J. Derek McNeil, Acting President and Provost, sits down with Abby Wong-Heffter (MA in Counseling Psychology, ‘07) for a conversation that leads them to discussing the realities of trauma and the hope to live a more integrated life.
Abby: “So many of the people I interact with are desperate for the symptoms to go away–that’s why they come to therapy. There is a complexity and a depth, and even an honor and richness that we can offer with [saying] your whole self is telling us something. My gut has been one of the primary ways for me to listen to my own trauma or my own wounding.”
Abby: “I think that’s what I’m most excited about with the concentration: honing in on more of what it means to be with someone whose mind, body, soul, emotions have been hijacked.”
Derek: “This is challenging work. It feels like not just individual healing, but cultural healing. We seem to have not known how wounded we were even though we knew on some level we were deeply wounded. To come to reckon with that wounding and then to come with both strategies, ways of holding, and spiritual ways of being to bring some healing as well as learning feels very important at this moment”
As Derek and Abby discuss the Concentration in Trauma and Abuse, they step into what most excites them about this new offering and what their learning in the play and work of this profession
Abby: “I’m really excited to see how I get to marry the Allender Theory with EMDR ”
Derek: “One of the things I’m excited about with the concentration is us raising the question that we kind of already know. Is this important? Yes. Is this something we have to engage? Yes. I deeply appreciate the sense of calling from you personally as well as The Allender Center corporately for stepping into this.”
Abby: “I could geek out for hours on neuroscience, the vagus system, our gut, how trauma is stored in our bodies, what is dissociation. I tell this students in Practicum III, ‘You have no excuse to be bored in this profession. There are so many avenues that it can take.’”
Resources to Go Deeper
- You can follow the what The Allender Center is up to at theallendercenter.org
- Abby mentions the memoir by Truddi Chase, When Rabbit Howls, which follows her journey with dissociative identity disorder from abuse to recovery.
- Abby and Derek discuss her involvement with developing our new Concentration in Trauma and Abuse here at The Seattle School. You can learn more about the program and application process on our website.
- In their discussion about the prolific presence of abuse, Abby recalls hearing the news breaking in 2009 about the abuse happening at Penn State.
- Derek and Abby talk about collective trauma, where stories are often held in our collective bodies, and Abby mentions that she’s been reading a book by Resmaa Menakem titled, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies