Michelle Chalfant | The Adult Chair | 304 – Trauma Healing with Ilene Smith
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304 – Trauma Healing with Ilene Smith

When we think of trauma, many of us think of war, a car accident or a major, life-altering event. Though all of these events are certainly traumatic, they are only one type of trauma – what we often call “big T” trauma.


But there are many other forms of subtler trauma, including small events that happen over and over again (especially in childhood), that overwhelm our nervous systems and shape the way we move through the world. I would argue that most humans have had some sort of trauma in their lives, and you’d be surprised by how many times I’ve sat with clients who didn’t even know they had trauma. Heck, it took me decades to realize I had trauma from childhood! 


I think this is partly because trauma is such a loaded word, so on today’s show, I’m talking with a trauma expert, Ilene Smith, about what trauma actually is, how to notice if we’re living with trauma and how to heal it.


Listen to discover:


  • What trauma is 
  • Clues that you might be living with trauma
  • How trauma affects attachment style as adults 
  • What trauma bonding is
  • How to heal a dysregulated nervous system 
  • Steps to heal trauma starting today 


Here’s the thing about trauma: it has less to do with what actually happened (the event) and everything to do with how that event was interpreted and processed by our nervous system. Even small things can be overwhelming to the nervous system when they happen over time, when we’re children (because we don’t have any filters or discernment) and/or when we don’t have a strong sense of safety and support to help us process the painful events of our lives. And once our nervous system has been “trained” to react a certain way, it can get stuck there even once the trauma is over.


Bringing a sense of safety back to the nervous system is key to building up resilience and allowing yourself to process the stuck fight, flight or freeze energy. This happens in the body, which means the ability to heal your nervous system is as close to you as you are to yourself. I hope this episode brings you some lightbulb moments on what might be happening in your body and how you can begin to connect and heal.


“People often think of trauma as an event, but it’s really the energy that gets locked in the body around real or perceived threat.” – Ilene Smith


“Trauma can be a series of lots of little things.” – Ilene Smith


“The way we’re living could be the residuals of those childhood experiences.” – Ilene Smith


“As a kid growing up, we don’t know, ‘Oh wait, I’m emotionally not safe.’” – Michelle Chalfant 


“When there’s childhood trauma, relationships are much harder when you enter adulthood.” – Ilene Smith


“There’s usually something unhealed if we can’t attach in healthy ways.” – Ilene Smith


“When we get into reactivity, we don’t get into our experience.” – Ilene Smith


“The healing journey is about the body.” – Michelle Chalfant 


“When you think about going towards a distraction, think about what it might be like to get into your body in a safe way.” – Ilene Smith





Ilene Smith Website



Ilene Smith Instagram



“Moving Beyond Trauma” (Ilene Smith book)



ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Test



The Adult Chair® Membership (March Theme: Self-compassion)



The Adult Chair® Private Facebook Group






The Adult Chair® Website



The Adult Chair® Membership



The Adult Chair® Workshop 



The Adult Chair® Coaching Certification






Instagram: @michelle.chalfant

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