Transforming Trauma Episode 050: Safety and Presence in the Therapeutic Space with Bonnie Badenoch
A podcast brought to you by the NARM® Training Institute
In this episode of Transforming Trauma, we are joined by Bonnie Badenoch, MA, LMFT. Bonnie is a therapist, mentor, teacher, author, and has spent the last fifteen years integrating the discoveries of relational neuroscience into her therapy practice. She's the co-founder of the nonprofit agency Nurturing the Heart with the Brain in Mind. For twenty-five years, she has worked with trauma survivors to reshape their neural landscape to support a life of meaning and resilience.
Bonnie shares what led her to start working with trauma. “I had a really traumatic childhood and I had not had any help with it. I had breakdowns periodically and, you know, just a tragic family history of parents who were so wounded,” she says. Through exploration of her own developmental trauma, Bonnie was able to receive the support that she needed and was inspired to help others. She started the Center for Hope and Healing in Southern California, which was dedicated to healing severe trauma. Bonnie’s understanding of trauma has been heavily influenced by Stephen Porges, Daniel Siegel, and Iain McGilchrist. Bonnie reflects on the importance of true safety, true presence, and connection as essential elements for healing — and she believes it's vital for therapists to do their own work in order for them to be healthy enough to be present, safe, and connected to themselves and their clients in the therapeutic space.
Throughout the episode, Bonnie and Sarah discuss the relational aspects that are foundational for effective therapy. Bonnie’s approach, similar to NARM, is grounded in a therapist’s capacity for humility, which has to do with the way therapists meet their clients with openness and curiosity, and not as experts or being focused on “fixing their clients”. This relational focus on healing is a key ingredient to healing relational trauma.
Bonnie gives a couple examples of clients and the growth that they have experienced due to the relational focus in their therapy. Safety, curiosity, and space for clients to connect to their own inner wisdom – which in NARM is part of the agency process – leads to often profound healing and transformation. Bonnie reflects on the power of the therapist “really respecting space and trusting the wisdom inside the person — and if we can just sit together and keep holding space, what needs to come forward will come forward, and it'll come forward at a pace that's manageable for the person.”
As the episode comes to a close, Bonnie reflects on what gives her hope amidst all the fear and devastation that goes on in the world and between one another. She knows that deep inside we all have the capacity to be empathetic and to be connected. “I hold hope because the capacity is still here in all of us.” Bonnie believes that who we are inherently yearns to orient towards connection and health.
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Bonnie Badenoch, Ph.D., LMFT is an in-the-trenches therapist, supervisor, teacher, and author of Being a BrainwiseTherapist. She has spent the last five years integrating the discoveries of neuroscience into the art of therapy. She co-founded the Center for Nurturing the Heart with the Brain in Mind (Portland, OR), and is founder and former executive director of Center for Hope and Healing (Irvine, CA). Her work as a therapist has focused on helping trauma survivors and those with significant attachment wounds reshape their neural landscape to support a life of meaning and resilience.
As a mentor/supervisor of marriage and family therapist interns for over a decade, she supports their developing mental health side by side with helping them internalize the principles of interpersonal neurobiology as a guide to evidence-based practice. She is one of the founders of GAINS (Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering application of the principles of IPNB to professional and personal life, and is editor-in-chief of its quarterly publication, Connections & Reflections.
Bonnie also provides brain-wise therapy for therapists, educators, and healthcare providers, and pursues the ongoing development of a personally coherent life with joy, determination, and a sense of humor.