Transforming Trauma Episode 012:
Inspiring, Educating, and Supporting Trauma Therapists with Guy Macpherson from The Trauma Therapist Podcast
A podcast brought to you by the NARM® Training Institute
In this episode of Transforming Trauma, our host Sarah is joined by NARM Senior Faculty Brad Kammer and guest Guy Macpherson. With a doctorate in clinical psychology and a passion for spreading awareness of trauma, how it impacts lives, and trauma-informed care, Guy hosts his own podcast entitled the Trauma Therapist Podcast. This is just one of his many projects that are focused on connecting mental health professionals and others to information about trauma and trauma treatment. Throughout their conversation, Guy, Brad, and Sarah explore what’s so transformative about trauma-informed therapy.
Guy speaks from his own experience as a therapist about the notions that he once held that have been debunked since working in the trauma field. He shares the quote, “Your job as a therapist is not to take your client’s pain away — that’s their journey”. By ditching the idea that a therapist has to have all of the answers, they have more capacity to show up for their client. Especially when working with clients with complex trauma, the therapist’s authenticity and vulnerability can play a huge part in the process. What’s exciting for Guy about working with complex trauma is that, “there’s a whole element of being human with someone else”. It may sound simplistic, but it’s so powerful. “And not always easy,” Guy adds.
Interwoven into their conversation, Sarah, Brad and Guy share stories of times they’ve been humbled by their work with healing trauma. Through these humbling experiences, many ideas of what being a therapist means has been broken down: the idea that if a therapist reads enough books or goes to enough workshops they’ll be prepared, the expectation that a therapist needs to know all of the answers, and the illusion that there’s only one way to approach working with clients. Rebuilt from their humbling experiences is the understanding that what at first might feel like doing less is in fact the way into a more authentic therapeutic connection. A therapist being comfortable with their own vulnerability “can be the vehicle to be present, to be open, and to be willing to learn”.
A therapist’s capacity to be authentic, and not to run from their vulnerability, is integral to supporting their client’s healing process as it allows them to be better connected to their own experience, and therefore to their client’s. Sarah asks Brad and Guy the question: What about the client and how they experience their therapist showing vulnerability? What if it’s perceived as weakness? Guy points out that being vulnerable and having knowledge to offer are not mutually exclusive. “Just because someone's vulnerable doesn't mean they don't have the answer…It means being very present and being willing to be present and for it to be okay to not have the answers as someone’s therapist. But this ability…to let it be known that the client has the power, is in the driver's seat is really empowering and important.”
Brad speaks to the power of vulnerability and authenticity in the therapeutic process: “The reason why I was so attracted to NARM is because of this piece of inter-subjectivity. [That’s just a] word for how do we just show up as two humans? And supporting our clients to reconnect to the humanity that they had to disconnect from because it was too unsafe to stay connected to their authenticity.” Brad also helps to clarify our common thinking that vulnerability equates weakness or not being competent. He shares the importance of therapists being able to tease apart the difference between states and behaviors. While a therapist can have behavior that’s confident and knowledgeable, their internal state can remain open, curious and heartful, or what some might consider to be vulnerable, but what Brad defines as being authentically human.
Sarah asks Guy about the recurring themes of the trauma-informed field that come up through his work on the Trauma Therapist Podcast. He shares that he’s noticed a trend on highlighting the relationship between therapist and client, beyond the specific modalities that the therapist uses. Guy shares his greatest learning about being in the trauma field, “The thing that gets me so excited about [trauma therapy] is this whole element of being a human being with someone else and just how powerful that is. I thought it was too simplistic when I was in graduate school.” Guy, Brad and Sarah all agree that beyond the differences of modalities, the fit between client and therapist seems to be most important in the healing process.
Sarah, Brad and Guy all reflect on the current focus of evidence-based therapy within psychology and share their concerns about possible negative impacts that this focus may bring, including shifting focus away from the power of the therapeutic relationship to a focus on general protocols and manualized approaches. They are also concerned about how evidence-based focus impacts accessibility to effective trauma treatment. As Guy reflects, “Clients are ready. Clients are thirsty. For whatever’s going to help. Oftentimes they don’t care whether something’s evidence-based. Quite frankly they don’t even know whether something’s evidence-based. But they are open.” Sarah shares the therapeutic impact of basic things like being with pets, and jokes that “petting a doggy is not evidence-based but it works”. All three share their passion for making trauma healing accessible despite the obstacles in the way.
Both Brad and Sarah express being inspired by Guy’s work with the Trauma Therapist podcast, and Guy shares a similar sentiment toward what Sarah and Brad are doing with NARM and the Transforming Trauma podcast. As Guy says, “I love this topic…I just get so excited about this topic. Because there’s something so simple about it. Creating relationships and the power of relationships, especially within the context of working with people that have been impacted by trauma.”
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About Guy Macpherson
Guy Macpherson, PhD, is a husband, a father of two, and holds a doctorate in clinical
psychology. He has spent the last several years studying the impact and treatment of
trauma, and early psychosis.
In 2014, while working at a clinic in Northern California, assessing and treating young
individuals with early psychosis, Guy founded The Trauma Therapist Project with the
goals of raising the awareness of trauma and creating an educational and supportive
community for new trauma workers.
The Trauma Therapist Project has now grown to include The Trauma Therapist |
Podcast , now being listened to in more than 160 countries around the world, as well as Trauma Therapist | 2.0 , an online membership community specifically dedicated to
educating and inspiring trauma workers just starting out on their trauma-informed
Guy’s focus currently is on creating a vibrant, global community to support, educate and
inspire new trauma workers, as well as to upend the present way that trauma is taught
at the graduate level.
Contact Guy Macpherson: