"I see that you specialize in trauma & emotionally unavailable/immature parents but my childhood wasn't all that bad. I have a good enough relationship with my parents as an adult, too. Is therapy right for me?"
This is a common question I get asked by many potential new clients or clients who are new to therapy beyond the 8-12 weeks of solution focused therapy. I'll go into my longer, more therapist-y response below but to answer this question succinctly, the answer is yes, therapy can still be for you even if all of the above is true.
I practice trauma-informed therapy which means that I understand that the environment we grew up in and the things that happen to us, even as adults, can have a direct impact on how we respond to and see the world around us. There's nothing wrong with solution focused therapy that solely focuses on developing coping skills to help us through difficult times. However, I don't think that learning more coping skills will ever solve our problems as complex humans.
Have you ever worked up the courage to tell someone about something you're struggling with only to be met with a question like, "at least it's not (enter some hypothetical situation they deem as worse than what you're going through)"? Maybe you've received unsolicited advice from others when you really just want to emotionally connect with them. Or maybe that person misinterprets what you've said and now you're comforting them and never end up circling back around to the topic you brought up. For a lot of us in these situations, this doesn't feel good. It feels dismissive.
To go even deeper, I believe that the response we receive from others when going through difficult experiences can have the power to make or break how we view ourselves and the situation. If we are receiving dismissive and invalidating responses from others while dealing with postpartum anxiety or a breakup, we might look back at the experience with disgust or frustration with ourselves. If we were to receive compassion, nurturance and care while going through that same experience, we might be more likely to think on the experience with tenderness that someone was able to show us love/care when we needed it the most.
This is what trauma-informed therapy is like. It doesn't mean that you need to have experienced trauma, to have a bad childhood or terrible parents. It means that I understand that life is complex and sometimes we can have difficult emotions about people and situations we love. It means there is no judgment for what you're feeling. It means offering a space for you to be curious about what happened to you and why that might be difficult to feel.
Trauma-informed therapy also means I understand everyone has a different experience of the world. I understand that I am not all powerful as a therapist. Instead of saying something like "You need to exercise more to feel better", I might say something such as, "I'm curious about how relate to your physical body in the world. If it feels safe to do so, I'm wondering what shows up for you when I bring up the concept of movement. For some people, movement might be a place of safety or refuge, for others, this might elicit anger, and for others, there might be shame or maybe even no response at all or one that's hard to identify. Tell me about your experience". See how much more curiosity and compassion a trauma-informed response sounds?
Lastly, trauma informed care is slow. It has to be. In order to be truly trauma-informed and inclusive, we must ask more questions out of curiosity out of the expense of efficiency. It means we get a chance to rewrite our narratives when we've received negative or harmful responses from others or ourselves in the past. And that takes time... and a whole lot more that simply learning how to meditate.