Understanding trauma

split self

By Martin Vogel

Tickets are selling fast for our session on 25th February: When trauma shows up in coaching with Julia Vaughan Smith. Book now with Eventbrite.

We’ve already posted Julia’s article framing the event: Beyond the compromised identity. Here are some links to some other resources, if you want to think about the subject before the night.


First off, you might like to read the paper Julia submitted to last year’s APECS Symposium, which prompted a lively discussion that inspired our February event.

Julia gave an interview recently in which she discusses the psychotherapeutic background to how she construes trauma. She explains how childhood trauma causes a division in the self that has lasting impacts in life:

“The psyche splits, creating this survival self to help push the traumatised self and feelings deep into the unconscious and out of contact. This enables the infant to survive. The same can happen in relation to existential trauma later in life. This survival self develops a range of survival strategies which impact ultimately on the ability to make and sustain healthy relationships with oneself, others and with one’s work in life. One of the things that also happens is ‘identity trauma’ where the splitting affects the sense of self and the idea of ‘who am I?’. This has long lasting effects in our lives in all kinds of ways: in relationships, in our choices, in our well-being and in our vitality and passion within life and work.”

There’s also a challenge in the interview to those in caring professions to consider their own trauma:

“My view would be that holistic therapists and others in the caring professions need to find out about their own psychological trauma as part of their own CPD. This would help them be open to the potentiality for traumatisation within their clients. The trauma in the client is met through their survival strategies mostly, including dissociation, control, unhealthy life choices, and how they hook into our survival strategies too (including our need to rescue). Clearly if someone exhibits a retraumatisation (dissociation, shaking, coldness, distress), then appropriate action is needed to bring them safely back into the present.”

There’s a short and readable book, Becoming Your True Self by Vivian Broughton, which explains the application of the ideas of Professor Franz Ruppert, whose framework influences Julia’s work. You can watch a video of Vivian Broughton discussing trauma, again from a therapeutic perspective:

Finally, for a different perspective, I’ve been reading The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein. This adopts an approach informed by Buddhist psychology. I’ve written some reflections on what it implies for our work in workplaces.

It’s a rich subject and the session promises a foundation for some engaging conversation. Don’t miss it!

When trauma shows up in coaching
25 February 2016, 6.30–8.30pm
Space in Marylebone, 10 Daventry Street, London NW1 5NX
Members £36 inc. VAT; Non-members £42 inc. VAT

Book with Eventbrite

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