We have talked about EMDR on the show previously as a treatment for trauma. This week, Vanessa Pezo joins me to discuss how EMDR can be used for the treatment of other types of distress like performance anxiety or even common fears, like the fear of flying. We also discuss narrative exposure therapy, creativity as a tool for healing, and the complexity of trauma therapy for crime victims.  

Vanessa Pezo, LCSW (she/her) is a licensed therapist and trauma specialist based in Long Beach, CA. In her private practice, Vanessa specializes in serving diverse survivors of complex trauma using EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative exposure therapy, and somatic techniques to help survivors of trauma find healing and recovery. 

We talk about:

  • How EMDR can help with the treatment of other types of distress. (5:59)
  • Narrative exposure therapy (NET): what it is and how it helps. (15:25)
  • NET often uses writing as a way to reflect on past experiences. Vanessa speaks about using creativity as a tool for healing. (19:31)
  • On Vanessa’s website she writes “After a trauma, we can sometimes fall into unhelpful patterns of thinking that change the way we view ourselves, others, and the world.” She explains what she means by that. (25:01)
  • One modality isn’t going to work for everyone. (31:47)
  • Trauma therapy for crime victims: navigating trauma while also navigating the criminal justice system can be a complex and long journey. (32:53)

Resources mentioned in this episode: 

NPR’s article: Want to support the people in Ukraine? Here's how you can help
Vanessa’s website
If you missed The Daring Way Retreat Open House! Where I went over the curriculum and did a Q&A, you can get the replay here.
Sign up for The Daring Way Retreat
It Didn’t Start With You. Mark Wolynn
Vanessa on TikTok 
Vanessa on Instagram 


Vanessa Pezo, LCSW (she/her) is a licensed therapist and trauma specialist based in Long Beach, CA. In her private practice, Vanessa specializes in serving diverse survivors of complex trauma using EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative exposure therapy, and somatic techniques to help survivors of trauma find healing and recovery. Vanessa's interest in trauma began in graduate school where her master's thesis focused on the use of mindfulness in the treatment of sexual assault survivors. Since then Vanessa has also worked in community mental health and non-profit settings as a clinician, clinical trainer, and victim advocate, as well as taught at Cal State Long Beach. Vanessa works from an anti-oppressive and social-justice informed lens considerate of the impact of systemic oppression on mental health, and believes that all humans are deserving of compassionate and culturally responsive care.

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Andrea 00:00
Hey everyone. Before we get started, I wanted to jump in and let you know if you are like me, and you're losing sleep and trying to figure out how you can help the people in Ukraine, and feeling a little overwhelmed and helpless over here in the United States, or maybe you're in Canada, I found a really great article that has a handful of links, where you can go and choose, which direction you want to support. It's an NPR article. That link will be in the show notes. It's everything from UNICEF, to Doctors Without Borders, International Red Cross, the UN Refugee Agency, etc, etc, and you can read about each of these humanitarian efforts and choose one or more that you would like to help. I know that I'm using this, to be able to help in any way that we can. So that link will be in the show notes.

Vanessa 00:55
One of the things that heals trauma is healthy, safe and loving relationships. And so do not be discouraged. Know that there are many treatment modalities out there. If maybe you've tried, for example, a CBT therapist and you felt like you hit a wall. Maybe you did EMDR and you felt like it didn't really work for you. There are many different approaches, and you can absolutely heal.

Andrea 01:18
Your listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 439 with guest Vanessa Pezo.

Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insights to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.

Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so glad that you're here. Did you know that today's the first episode since the first day of spring, and if you've been around these parts long enough, you know how I feel about spring. It is my favorite time of year. Probably since we moved to a place where spring is so beautiful out here in the south. It's just stunning. It's my absolute favorite. It feels like a fresh new start. And speaking of fresh new starts, if you missed the open house, the virtual open house I hosted yesterday. If you're listening to this, the day that this podcast comes out on March 29, I did a virtual open house. And it was all about the daring way curriculum, Brené Brown's methodology. And I went over it in case anyone is interested in going through it privately. But more specifically, this is the curriculum we're going to be covering at the Daring Way retreat that is happening in Asheville, North Carolina, this September, hosted by yours truly. And I went over the curriculum, I answered some questions, I gave away some books. And the recording is available at AndreaOwen.com/meet. In case you couldn't be there live, we missed you. We really did. And I just am happy that people are you know, getting to know what the curriculum is if they're interested in the retreat, or doing it with me on a on a private basis. And if you're interested in that retreat, you can head on over to AndreaOwen.com/retreat. All the information is there and you can sign up we have a few spaces available. All right.

So Vanessa Pezo is our guest today. We are continuing with this series around different modality learning about different modalities for therapy, we're talking about trauma, that Vanessa has a new thing that we haven't covered yet, so I'm really excited for you to meet her and to hear this conversation. So for those of you that don't know her, Vanessa Pezo LCSW is a licensed therapist and trauma specialist based in Long Beach, California. In her private practice Vanessa specializes in serving diverse survivors of complex trauma, using EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Exposure Therapy and somatic techniques to help survivors of trauma find healing and recovery. Vanessa's interest in trauma began in graduate school where her master's thesis focused on the use of mindfulness in the treatment of sexual assault survivors. Since then, Vanessa has also worked in community mental health and nonprofit settings as a clinician, clinical trainer and victim advocate, as well as taught at Cal State Long Beach. Vanessa works from an anti-oppressive and social justice informed lens, considerate of the impact of systemic oppression on mental health and believes that all humans are deserving of compassionate and culturally responsive care. So without further ado, here is Vanessa.

Vanessa, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.

Vanessa 05:08
Hey, Andrea, thank you so much for having me. I'm happy to be here.

Andrea 05:11
We are on… You probably don't know this, but so I'll fill you in. We're on a we're on a trauma kick here, if you will. I've sort of organized this year's podcast into topics and we're talking a lot about healing from trauma and you know, what are the different modalities, and I'm happy to have brought my listeners so many different avenues to healing. We have we have talked about EMDR here on the show previously, and how it can help with the treatment for trauma. But can you…I know you talk about several different, you know, wounds, if you will, that people have so can you tell us how EMDR can help with other types of distress, and maybe not just trauma?

Vanessa 05:59
Sure. EMDR is a really fantastic treatment and it can be used for a variety of concerns. And so when you think about how EMDR works, it really works in the way that we don't identify like a symptom or a behavior, it's just this kind of a neat problem that you have. We see it as the result of a potentially traumatic or stressful life event. And there was something that happened along the way where maybe that was the appropriate response, maybe it was even a survival strategy. And over time, that can become in a way like habitual, right? It can be triggered in other circumstances. And so folks could come in and have things related to trauma that they really want to work on. But EMDR can also be used for things like performance, anxiety, you know, maybe public speaking, maybe phobias, like a fear of flying. And so what we do is really start with what's happening in the here and now what's the concern or what's the maybe problem that you're having, and you will work with your therapist to understand what emotions are triggered, how does it make you feel about yourself, what does it bring up for you regarding cognitions, like, I can't do this, I'm powerless and out of control. And your EMDR therapists will then say, okay, so that's what we're going to work on, but let's try to figure out where this started. So they will have you engaged in what we call a float back, where you connect to the emotion, the sensation, the cognitions, that you feel in that present moment around that problem. And then we just asked you to kind of gently allow yourself to float back to kind of think, when were other times I have felt this way, sometimes those experiences that you float back to feel really obvious.

So for example, maybe you were working on a fear of flying, you float back and you remember, well, you know, a couple years ago, I had really bad turbulence, and I was really scared on a plane and I recognized since then I have had a really hard time flying. And he said he will, that's a pretty, you know, strong connection, that makes a lot of sense. But other times, it's not quite so obvious, you know, we might do that float back and you remember, there was a time that I was a kid and my mom dropped me off at daycare, and I felt really scared and I felt really powerless, and it feels very similar. And so maybe the connection is more so just these are times where I feel very out of control or very helpless. But we can then target that memory and that is in a way the root of that present day trigger. So you would be sometimes surprised at how certain concerns you have here in the present day can be helped by looking at some of those past experiences, even when they're not necessarily so obvious.

Andrea 08:35
I wasn't aware that it also worked for kind of everyday fears and phobias, like flying or public speaking. And I imagine I don't know this for sure but maybe you can tell us, that maybe someone who is apprehensive about walking into doing EMDR for their trauma, maybe starting with something that's a little less traumatic, if you will, like everyday fears, and then maybe move into that do some do some clients do that?

Vanessa 09:02
Oh, absolutely. So with EMDR. You know, of course, when we think about it, we think we're really targeting those core deep traumas. And that is something that you can use EMDR for. But when we work with trauma survivors, we also have to recognize that typically there are concerns around power and control, because a lot of trauma takes away your sense of power and your sense of control. So a trauma informed therapist is going to make sure that the treatment is paced appropriately for the client, because we don't want to give the client this sensation that in the therapy room they also don't have power and control.

Something I often do with my clients because they are usually survivors of complex trauma, which means they've experienced trauma, often chronically throughout their lifespans, is I want to start where they're most comfortable. And so sometimes that is starting instead of targeting that memory, maybe we start with the present day trigger. So is the sitting on plane, not necessarily the experience of the daycare.

Another thing that EMDR actually does is you can target past, present and future. So when you do a full EMDR protocol, you are at some point going to process past trauma, you're going to process present triggers, and you're actually going to use EMDR, imagining a future situation that could trigger this response so that you can respond in a different way, you can kind of get that experience of feeling different in that situation. So I've actually had clients both start with the future. So we start with what are things coming up that are going to be really stressful? Can you imagine what it's going to be like? And use EMDR around that first. They can develop a sense of power control and even mastery, and as they're comfortable, we can start working our way back. So it's very flexible.

Andrea 10:50
Oh, that's interesting. I didn't I didn't know the ins and outs of it like that. Okay. I have a very personal question. And the only reason I'm going to ask this more selfish reasons, obviously. But I feel like I know there's people listening who have unexplained phobias. I don't think I've ever asked anyone, any expert on the show this so congratulations on that. So for as long as I can remember, I have had a fear of pool drains. Really any drains at all. The shower drain, I do not touch it with my bare feet. I always straddle it. And I always kind of have to have one eye open to keep my eye on it. It's kind of life hindering. And then I found out a handful of years ago that it has a name because it's not just pool drains. It's any, it’s submechanaphobia and it's any manmade object that's either partially submerged or fully submerged in water. So this is like buoys, piers that go out into the water, like, ugh. Even like the hair standing up on the back of my neck just talking about it. And it's a little embarrassing. It's sort of ridiculous, like why on earth, but like, I've I don't know where it came from. The only thing I can pinpoint is that way back in the 80’s when I was growing up, there were a handful of this is before they had, like safety things I think on Jacuzzi drains and pool drains, there were a handful of children and adults that got stuck, and tragically drowned. And I always had long hair, I we had a Jacuzzi and my parents, they didn't put the fear of God in me about it, but they just were like, make sure you put your hair up when you go in the Jacuzzi. And ever since there I was terrified. I would go in, but I would make sure never to touch it with my bare feet. So why? And then okay, one more thing. I've also read that there are some people that think that something tragic happened in a past life that makes you have these unexplained phobias. What is your opinion on that? Like, I want to know what your opinion is on all of that.

Vanessa 12:59
That is really interesting. And you know, it's so funny, as you were talking about that I remember growing up, it must be in the 80’s or 90’s and seeing that on a Baywatch episode and having a symbol here. Yes. I'm one like, I remember like their ring or something got caught in the drain. And so I can really empathize here because it was terrifying as a kid to think that.

Andrea 13:18
Apparently, it's also in that movie. What is the name of it? Oh my gosh, everyone's gonna DM me on Instagram to tell me when there was there was a bunch of like, all the different ways to die or something. Final Destination. That's what it was. Yeah, it was in one of those. I did not. Nope, did not see it. But okay. Anyway…

Vanessa 13:37
That is really interesting. You know, I think that there are a lot of different ways to work with phobia. I have also heard about, you know, that it could be something connected in a past life. I don't know that I necessarily have the best expertise in that. But you know, when you talk about trauma we do definitely talk about intergenerational trauma and so that we can carry sometimes responses to situations that actually maybe our mother or even our grandmother experienced. There's a lot of really interesting research around that. And there's this book called It Didn’t Start With You that talks about generational trauma. Oh, it's a fantastic book and they go into…

Andrea 14:18
It could have been it could have been a past… I know a generation before me that was in a sinking ship because sunken ships are an absolute no. I don't like any of that. I don't mind… It doesn't scare me as much if there's just… It's a little creepy, but if it's natural things like rocks and trees and sticks and fish, like that's fine because it was meant to be there. But there's some… The worst is waterpark drains, because they're so gigantic. There's something about the machinery but anyway, I’ll move on.

Vanessa 14:53
I can imagine that those are terrifying. Terrifying. Yeah.

Andrea 14:58
Also zombies. I have a I have a very ridiculous fear about zombies. I can't even watch the trailer for The Walking Dead. I think that one is related to… My husband thinks this is so funny. I feel like that is something that could really happen that like you're just… Anyway, I'll move on.

Vanessa 15:17
Like, I mean, with the way things are going in the world today, I think we have to be ready for anything.

Andrea 15:25
Yeah. Okay. I hope that didn't scare anybody. Okay, one, one thing that I was super fascinated with, that you do that is on your site that you talk about that I've never heard about his Narrative Exposure Therapy. So can you tell us what it is? And kind of like, you know, how does it help someone in the during the therapy process?

Vanessa 15:48
Narrative Exposure Therapy is actually a therapy that was designed to help people who had experienced chronic complex trauma. So we're talking about, like, people who've gone through wars, people who've gone through, you know, ongoing political strife and other things. When you look at a lot of the trauma modalities that are out there, people would often see that they target what people will call an index event. So you think about there was one major trauma I had in my life and since then, I've had a really hard time getting past it. So you can think of like maybe a car accident or an assault. But with a lot of the people that I work with in the community, you know, their lives have been impacted by several different traumas, some related and some unrelated. And we really needed a way to work with folks like that, you know, who are not just trying to get back to quote unquote, normal life after a really significant event, but people who lives have been impacted by trauma right now. So when you think about narrative exposure therapy, it's a way of honoring the different life experiences that you've had both positive and negative, what was impactful?

So with Narrative Exposure Therapy, what we do is we have, you create a timeline, and you create a timeline of your life highlighting both negative and positive, impactful events. We also have you do something called flowers and stones. So you assign each event either a flower or stone, and you can add as many stones or as many flowers as you think makes sense. And so what you see is that you can kind of understand the lifespan over time, you can see the different life events that you've had. You can also recognize that some were very significantly negative, you'll also see some times that there are some events people will highlight that are a mix of both negative and positive. So it really helps to bring in the context around experiences. And then the client, I will work through the stones using storytelling.

So the modality was designed to use writing. So either you tell the story to the therapist about the event, and they kind of help you to write it out and you create almost like a biography or an autobiography of your life. I've also had clients who have done artwork for each event, they've done poetry, they've done drawings. And so we honor each stone kind of week, by week, or over several weeks, depending on what the event is. We talked about what it was like, we engage the client in the story, we talk about what it meant and how it's impacted you. And one of the reasons why it's so beautiful is because it can really help someone to understand why certain things happened the way that they did, why they responded to certain situations in certain ways, and how it kind of fits into their life story.

Because sometimes we look back on events. And we think, you know, man, why didn't I do this? Or only I had done this, or why did this have to happen. But when you see it on the timeline, you can kind of see, like, you know, no wonder I didn't ask anyone for help, at that time, look at everything else that was going on going on in my life then. And so it really gives that context that is so often missing in the way that we remember trauma. Because we remember trauma in the way that it felt, you know, we can feel it in our bodies, we can feel all of those emotions and sensations all over again. And so often lacks context. And so it can be a really wonderful way of, you know, working through some of those events, and also seeing how it all kind of fits together. And also then as we get to the end, we can start to really think about the future and what type of life do we want and how do we want to move forward.

Andrea 19:31
Yes. Okay. So do you think that… I love that there is, that it's sort of based in creativity and you know, you mentioned that that it was made to be used as you know, like more of a writing tool, but you have people do drawing and poetry and things like that. And I you know, sometimes when I'm facilitating some work, and there's a creative project, I'll get like groans and I rolls and so I would love for you to tell the audience In your opinion, how do you find that creativity helps people process things, and maybe some other benefits that that isn't just about the processing of it.

Vanessa 20:13
Creativity is an amazing tool. And a lot of us can sometimes get kind of stuck in our thinking brain. We live in a very cognitive world, or what sometimes you'll hear trauma therapists called top down, we're very much in our thinking brain. And what we know about trauma is that it really lives in the body and so sometimes our thinking brain can't quite access the healing that we need to really process something, so using other tools that can tap into our creativity, for example, drawing, or even collaging or, you know, writing poetry can help us to get to a different place, because it kind of takes us outside of our rational thinking brain, and helps us look at things in a different way. You know, for some people, they are really attracted to art and creativity, and it's a great tool. For other people, it may feel kind of like awkward or even outside of their comfort zone. And that's an important reason why trauma therapy should be very client focused and lead, you don't want to really do something that feels super uncomfortable and out of your control. But it can be a really great tool into looking at processing things in a different way.

Andrea 21:18
I love that. Thank you for explaining that so well. And yes, I have, I've often found that… And I'm always surprised a little bit where I'm like, wow, that that journaling was really helpful. But I know logically that it does help. But sometimes it can feel like oh, I got to do this extra work or, you know, can't I just think my way through this? Can I just think my way into healing? And I just want to emphasize to everyone listening, that creativity absolutely can be so helpful.

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I want to quote you for a second because I pulled this from your website and I really, I really love this and would like you to kind of unpack it and, and speak more on it. So you say, “after a trauma, we can sometimes fall into unhelpful patterns of thinking that change the way we view ourselves, others and the world”. So for any listeners grappling with that, can you can you say more.

Vanessa 25:32
Yes, after trauma, we often have a new belief about ourselves. So for example, if something that we see as really bad happens to us, or maybe multiple things, we may start to think like, I'm a bad person because bad things always happened to me. Or there's something wrong with me, and that is why there are all of these things going on in my life that feels very much out of control. Another thing that can happen is it can change how we feel about other people. So if maybe our trust has been broken, or we feel like we've been violated in some way, we may start to shift into very black and white thinking such as, like, no one can be trusted. The world is a very dangerous place, and I cannot be safe here. And so we tend to be on guard, we tend to be on high alert, and we tend to have a difficult time connecting with other people. And when we really think about it, it comes from a place of just wanting to be seen and wanting to protect ourselves. But we can get caught up, and we're almost becomes like a thinking rut, where it starts to be really difficult to see people or see the world outside of that.

And if we move through life thinking I'm a bad person, and bad things happen to me, or I can't be safe with other people, I have to always be on guard, we can imagine how much smaller our worlds can get. And that can be one of the real tragedies of living with a lot of trauma is that it's hard to fully engage and be in the joy of life. Because we feel the need to be on guard and protected all of the time. And you know, that could be one of the main focuses of the work you do in therapy or with your healers is starting to feel safe in connection with others, and starting to see yourself with a little bit more kindness and compassion, which I think you know, we could all use at times, but is especially important in trauma work.

Andrea 27:21
That quote that I pulled is from is from the CBT, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy section in your website, if I'm not mistaken. And I mean, CBT was one of, thinking back on my long therapy history, I think it was one of the first exercise slash modalities that I actually did. I was in such a painful place of panic attacks and anxiety, just thoughts that would run away from me so quickly that I felt like it was a runaway train that I couldn't get off of. And my therapist started teaching me about it and gave me a simple worksheet to work out and that's what she said that this was. And I think I probably reluctantly did it but I was so desperate for help to not… You know, I had insomnia, and it just was terrible. And so helpful. And I still I still fall back on it today. Sometimes when I mean, my anxiety isn't nearly as bad as it was when I was in my 20s. And I also talked to my kids about it to just, you know, kind of reeling it back in. And sometimes, please speak to this, I think sometimes when someone's mental health is so challenged that, like, is there a place where your mental health is so challenged, where CBT doesn't work where you need something, something different?

Vanessa 28:49
There's no modality, there's no trauma, there's no therapy, really, that's going to be right for everyone. And so there are things about CBT that and when we say that it's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, there are things about CBT, that can be incredibly helpful. And for some folks with trauma, there are also some things about CBT that can feel invalidating. And so I definitely want to honor and kind of hold space for both. You know, like you mentioned, you did the worksheet, right? It's very cognitive, like what we were just talking about. It's very much in your head. And it is like learning strategies to deal with your mental health. One thing CBT therapists talk about is you're kind of teaching people to be their own therapist, so that they don't need you anymore, which is always our goal as therapists, right, we want to kind of work our way out of the job.

So with CBT it really is for me, or at least this is how I view it. It's kind of a foundational piece, because when you're using CBT you're learning about the connections between your thoughts, your feelings and your behaviors and how they all impact one another. So like for example, if I am feeling very sad, I may decide that I'm going to stay in bed all day, that's the behavior. I stay in bed all day, I may feel more tired, I may start to think, well, I'm so lazy, what am I doing in bed all day, and then I'm going to get more sad, and if I'm more sad, I may want to stay in bed longer. And so you can kind of start to see how these things can all impact you in a negative way. So you would with your therapist you learn if I'm having that thought, and I want to maybe feel better, I may have to do a different behavior, I may have to change the way I'm responding to that thought or to that feeling.

I really love CBT when… I choose early in my therapy journey when I was first going to therapy in my 20s, because I was somewhat you know I didn't really grow up in a house where we talked about feelings or where we talked about emotions, and I didn't have a foundation really, to understand how my thoughts impacted how I feel and what was really going on with me. I had a lot of anxiety also. And so for me CBT kind of gave me that foundation that I felt like I didn't quite get growing up. I started to understand well, what is it feeling? I can actually name my feelings. And that can be really helpful. Wow, I can think about what I'm thinking about and I can decide, does that thought make sense or do I need to change it. And it can be so helpful, especially with like, what you were talking about panic attacks, anxiety, because usually we're looking at things through this lens of everything is terrible, something terrible is going to happen. And it creates a lot of fear in our body. So I often use CBT with folks, it's kind of because foundation to teach about paying attention to thoughts, paying attention to feelings, and learning how to recognize those things, and then kind of switching into another modality when we really focus more directly on the trauma. So you know, you've kind of seen how helpful it can be and, you know, maybe even seen some of the limitations of it.

Andrea 31:47
For sure. And I'm glad you mentioned that, because I just want to make it very clear that, you know, claiming that that one modality, especially one where it's like, just change your thoughts, you know, like that can be insensitive, and in many ways insulting to some people who where does it work where they need a different modality. So it's definitely not a one size fits all, but it can be helpful for some.

And one of the things that we have not talked about here on this show with a therapist is how you work with victims of crimes. I know, that's a very specific niche, if you will. So can you I'm just going to leave the question wide open. Maybe tell us like, what a typical what it might look like somebody that comes to you, or what are the typical scenarios. And you know, I don't know how much information you can give out. But I have a feeling there's people listening who have experienced that, and maybe don't, you know, haven't even put it together, that maybe they need therapy specifically for that situation for that experience that they had.

Vanessa 32:53
Working with crime victims is something that I really enjoy. And it is definitely something that can be challenging. The majority of crime victims that I work with come through, it's actually a state program in California. So if there's anyone out there who is in California, and you've been a victim of a crime the past three years, and you have a police report, you can actually apply and get up to 40 sessions paid for by the California Compensation Board. There are definitely hoops to jump through because like I said, you have to have at police report and other things which many crime victims don't have. But if that is maybe something that you could access, it's an incredible resource. Because like I said, 40 sessions for free.

Being a crime victim can be very complex, because not only is there the initial victimization that someone experiences, you know what the actual crime was, but if you are then coming through that Cali CD program, like I said, the crime victims I work with often do, you're also involved in the criminal justice system. So that's almost like its own separate trauma. You are not only navigating the impact that this crime has had on your life, but now having to navigate, you know, working with a District Attorney or City Prosecutor and trying to give statements navigating this kind of ongoing system where you're maybe asked to go to different court deeds, and you're not sure what's going to happen at those court deeds, and you have to maybe sometimes see the perpetrator of the crime.

And unfortunately, in my experience, our criminal justice system doesn't really meet the needs of crime victims. They are often not given the support that they need, there's a lot of uncertainty around what's going to happen and not everyone gets the result that they want, which is usually for the perpetrator to be held accountable. There's a lot of grief involved with trauma work with crime victims. You know, there's a huge loss of sense of safety and security, of course, but when you kind of add on the layer of not feeling like the criminal justice system has served you in a way that was meaningful, which I think you know, if you've never really been in in court cases, your criminal justice system, we kind of have this expectation that that's what it's there for, right? They're going to go out there, they're going to arrest the bad guy, they're going to hold. Exactly right, they're going to protect us. And it doesn't always go that way. And so there's also then this kind of loss of security just in the world, and even of our relationship to our like government and social systems.

And so we really have to hold a lot of space, not just for that individual experience of crime victimization, but again, like how does this shape my view of the world and my place in it, when things that maybe I believed in before, like the police, or the legal system, when I feel like those have failed me, and there really is a huge sense of loss there, and having to kind of make new meaning around that. Which is, you know, another reason in my work, I do bring in a lot of discussion around not just your individual experience, but kind of all the social systems that we also have to live within, and the ways that those can sometimes serve us in ways that they don't. It can be pretty complex. And I'm grateful that I get to work with these victims, because it can be a long an ongoing process, these things can take years.

Andrea 36:15
I bet some of them take so much longer than you would expect. Years and years of court being postponed and paperwork and hoops and all of those things that you mentioned. So it's so, so interesting. And I just, I, my heart goes out to people who have who have really struggled with that, and it's just tends to stay with you for a long time. I understand.

Before we close up? Is there anything, and we kind of jumped around to several different topics, and I so appreciate your time today. Is there anything else you want to mention or leave us with I definitely will ask you like where people can find you, but anything that we may have missed that you want to make sure that you mentioned before, before we close up.

Vanessa 37:01
One thing I just want to make sure that everyone really understands is that healing from trauma is possible. And there are oftentimes things that maybe we do in service of our healing. And maybe we feel like it didn't work or it wasn't helpful and that can be very frustrating, where you feel like we're the only one who's ever gone through something. How can anyone ever understand this? Or maybe we've had things and they bring us a lot of shame. So we don't dare to talk about them with others. But healing from trauma is possible and it happens in safe relationship with others, that can be a therapist, and I definitely recommend shopping around for your therapist, almost as if you were dating, making sure it's someone you feel comfortable with, making sure you feel a connection, you feel a sense of safety. And if you don't go to someone else, because that healing relationship is really what's most important. That can also be with friends, that can be with loved ones. I mean, that can even be with pets. One of the things that heals trauma is healthy, safe and loving relationships. And so do not be discouraged. Know that there are many treatment modalities out there. If maybe you've tried, for example, a CBT therapist and you felt like you hit a wall. Maybe you did EMDR. And you felt like it didn't really work for you. There are many different approaches, and you can absolutely heal.

Andrea 38:21
I love that. Thank you so much for that. And I just want to tag on to that because you know, as someone who experienced trauma and shoved it all down for several years, and then I got sober and then I was like, oh, I need to deal with all that stuff that happened. It was kind of a big deal. I have felt often that each different therapist I see along with a different modality it does, I would say, hmm, I don't know, I hope I'm not in the minority here, maybe I am, it's a lot of times three steps forward and two steps back that I initially you know, we're making progress and then maybe we close up the relationship. And it's kind of like, I don't know, if you've ever worked in, in retail or customer service, like when you have the training and then you come out and you're like okay, I'm ready and you're like excited and it's fresh and then you go out into like the store or get on the phones with people and like you get kind of beat down a little bit. And then you're like, maybe this wasn't as great as I thought it was going to be. That's how I felt a lot of time. Like I feel great coming out of the gate and then it and then I kind of step backwards a little bit. However, progress is always being made even if it is three steps forward and two steps back, I always feel like I'm always taking a step forward. I don't know if that's common or I'm just weird.

Vanessa 39:41
No, it absolutely is. And I you know one thing that that kind of makes me think of is also that I think healing means different things to us at different points in our life. So maybe what you got without first therapist, you know, it may have felt groundbreaking at the time, right? Like I kind of talked about earlier like wow, I can name the feeling wow, I can recognize my thoughts. To me that was groundbreaking at the time, and it worked then, and then I had to kind of go back out and live life again. And then new things come up, or you have more self-reflection, or a little bit more insight into yourself as you grow, when you mature and your needs change. So when we think about trauma therapy, there's kind of different phases that we go through, and you may not probably won't do them all at once.

There is like, first an aspect of safety and stabilization that really needs to happen. And that's learning those core skills, like recognizing thoughts and feelings, learning how to cope, learning how to soothe yourself, learning how to talk kindly and compassionately to yourself. Once that foundation is there, it may not be right then or it may be later that you really do go deeper into trauma processing. And then maybe you take a break, because I think having time to integrate what we learned in therapy and not kind of staying in therapy for years and years at a time, it's always best. And then eventually we have to develop this like new sense of self, who am I after this trauma? What are my values? How do I want to live my life in a meaningful way? So this doesn't need to happen all at the same time, right? We can have time to grow and learn and develop in between these healing experiences. But it's not always linear, as much as we would love for it to be right? There's sometimes setbacks or new things that come up. And so you know what you feel, Andrea, I think we all do as we share this complex human experience, but as long as in the end, we know we're moving forward.

Andrea 41:35
Well, thank you for normalizing. They're realizing my experience, which I'm sure is helpful for people who are listening. And I appreciate this so much. I learned several things today with you and you are at LongBeachTraumaTherapy.com. And from what I understand your practice is full right now. Correct?

Vanessa 42:03

Andrea 42:04
Not taking on any brand new clients? Okay. I think you and 99% of the therapists in the United States and beyond.

Vanessa 42:01
Yeah, it’s a tough time, I know. Our mental health service system is just, we don't have as many therapists as we need. It's been really hard to, you know, for everyone to navigate life and pandemic and everything else that's been going on. So the need is just so high.

Andrea 42:17
Well, maybe if someone wants to be put on your waiting list, but you can definitely go to LongBeachTraumaTherapy.com and read more about the different modalities that Vanessa does. Is there anywhere else that you want to send people in order to get to know you better or get on your mailing list or anything like that?

Vanessa 42:32
You can find me on Instagram. So on Instagram, I'm @The_TraumaTherapist, and you can also find me on TikTok and on TikTok, I am @TheTraumaTherapist, no underscore. So I like to post you know, helpful tidbits and information there. If you're interested in learning more just kind of getting to know me a little bit better. I'd love to connect with you all there.

Andrea 42:53
Yeah, that's where I found you. That's where I find so many awesome smart people. It's really on TikTok. Okay, thank you so much, Vanessa. This has been so incredibly helpful. And everyone remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.

Hi, there, swing back by to say one more thing. You know, I'm always giving advice over here on the show and on social media and a couple of those things is that I'm always telling you to ask for what you want, be clear about it, and also ask for help. So I am taking a dose of my own medicine and I'm going to do that right now. It would be the absolute best and mean the world to me. If you reviewed and subscribed to this show, Make Some Noise Podcast on whatever podcast platform of your choice. And even more importantly, it would matter so much if you shared this show. Sharing the show is one of the few ways the podcast can grow and that also gives more women an opportunity to make some noise in their lives. You can do that by taking a screenshot when you're listening on your phone and sharing it in your Instagram or Facebook stories. If you're on Instagram you can tag me @HeyAndreaOwen and I try my best to always re share those and give you a quick thank you DM and also you can tell your friends and family about it. Tell them what you learned. Tell them a really awesome guest that you found on the show that you started following whatever it is I appreciate so much you sharing about this show.