Integrating psychotherapy, medication management, body work & mindfulness for an encompassing and empowering approach to healing.
Survivors often talk about their capacity to assess their environment with greater speed and accuracy than your average Joe (or Jane). Scanning for emotional and physical safety through a heightened attunement to the behavior of others, their emotional states and placing themselves in a position that ensures the opportunity for immediate exit are sometimes habituated ways of being for survivors. Safety is dependent upon the capacity to detect threat (even subtle ones) quickly and correctly and often times, scanning for threat is baseline for a trauma survivor; one doesn’t ever come to a place of complete resting; resting equals risk.
Clients talk about their capacity to assess other people and the safety of their environment as something they are both proud of and fairly attached to. I am often given examples of how vigilance has protected them of injury by providing ample time for fight or flight. This perspective makes sense to me from the standpoint of someone who has endured; it is reasonable to make every effort to avert further injury. And, in all honesty, I am often impressed with the capacity and skill survivors have developed in the appraisal of subtle environmental cues that otherwise go unnoticed. People who have witnessed or experienced unbearable things sometimes talk about this capacity as heightened intuition~a sixth sense.
Arguably, vigilance is a departure of intuition; it kicks in when we no longer trust in ourselves to ensure invulnerability and when we no longer trust that the world is safe. Intuition happens without thought or awareness; it is automatic and requires no effort. I like to think of vigilance as a natural resource; while it is abundant it is not finite. Habituation of external evaluation and anticipation of response tires the body; we were not designed to be alert consistently. Additionally, vigilance could be viewed as a departure from ourselves and our sense of agency. We rely on superheroes and superpowers when we can no longer trust in our own capacity.
I encourage my clients to “save your fear for when you need it” and the rest of the time work towards reconnecting to self, trust in one’s resourcefulness, and to take the risk of resting. This parallels my admiration for the ways in which the PTSD is adaptive and clearly an attempt at returning to an assumption of safety. Counseling, massage therapy, reiki and acupuncture are the various attempts we are making at working towards a place of quiet; the juncture of rest and safety are the mini-moments that uncouple rest with risk and begin to teach the body that we can trust our intuition and give our vigilance a vacation.
After watching the relationship between the mental health and the body be conceived as somehow distinctive from each other and thus the assumption is to treat them as separate entities, I thought it might be interesting to offer adjunctive treatments to folks. When I opened Integrative Trauma Treatment Center, that was a large factor in what drove the design of our model. We have massage therapy, acupuncture, medication management and psychotherapy available in one location. These services can be utilized together or a la carte. The goal is to provide a safe place for folks to get body work done, where they know their practitioners will tune in to them and have a nurturing but empowering presence. I also wanted to acknowledge the despair, suffering, and isolation that can go with trauma, depression, anxiety, or other mental heath concerns and to create a community that was open, welcoming, playful, and safe. A place for people to spoil themselves. I suspected that clients would appreciate it. I knew I liked the concept. What I didn’t expect is how I feel comforted by the fact that there is a team working with me and my clients in their process. I am not only surrounded by other like-minded therapists, but other practitioners who can approach the same challenges from different angles. This provides me with a safety net that I appreciate so much and did not expect that I would feel comforted by them. I feel less isolated as well. Hopefully, the gift to me as equally meaningful to those who visit ITTC.
Welcome! Integrative Trauma Treatment Center (ITTC) is an outpatient mental health organization housed in NW Portland, Oregon. Our mission is to provide progressive therapy alongside adjunctive treatments, including acupuncture, massage, reiki and medication management. In addition to providing a progressive approach to mental health concerns, we also offer a safe place to receive body work. Some will shy away from acupuncture or massage due to the discomfort associated with practitioners who may be less informed about mental health (especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD). Our practitioners work from a trauma-informed perspective and approach body work with sensitivity, awareness, and compassion. Acupuncture, massage, and reiki are available to those receiving therapy and medication management at ITTC as well as to the general public.
The foundation of our work is to approach healing from the perspective of empowerment, choice, and collaboration. ITTC has a diverse group of practitioners who espouse varying styles, are trained in alternative modalities, and have differing specializations. Some of our therapists’ specialties include adolescents, couples and families, addiction, complex trauma, simple trauma (such as a motor vehicle accident or MVA), and dissociative disorders (such as Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID). The common thread is that we all are invested in providing care that is creative while housed in efficacy in a setting that is warm and welcoming.