SHAE NICOLE, TRAUMA THERAPIST AND SELF-CARE SPECIALIST, ON JOURNEY TO THE PROFESSION
SHAE NICOLE, TRAUMA THERAPIST AND SELF-CARE SPECIALIST, DISCUSSES HER PATH TO HELPING THE BLACK COMMUNITY HEAL FROM TRAUMA.
Credit: LaLa Spears| IG: @lalatakeslife | Shae Nicole, Trauma Therapist, Self-care Specialist, and Founder of The Healing Spot
Affirm Noire| September 3, 2021
It doesn't take much time digging on the internet to uncover the several articles about how Black people don't trust the healthcare system or the professionals it employs. Long wait times at the doctor's office, being seen for less time than others, past traumatizing studies like the Tuskegee Experiment, and many other reasons contribute to the mistrust Black people have regarding healthcare providers. Additionally, many Black people are uninsured and are unaware of access to mental health services. Also, many mental healthcare professionals don't work with insurance companies to provide in-network mental health services. However, mental health professionals such as Trauma Therapist and Self-care Specialist, Shae Nicole (she/her) are determined to sift through all this muck to help the Black community gain better access to mental health services and education about mental health. And Shae's specialty is trauma.
I am on a mission to help marginalized communities, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ understand the importance of how trauma manifests in the body and how important finding trauma-informed care is. Along with bringing a stop to intergenerational trauma.
According to Shae:
"Trauma is anything that was too much for your nervous system to handle and the overload was stored somewhere in your body if it couldn’t be released. So imagine, years and years of trauma held within your body, may take some time and patience to release. Your nervous system may have been conditioned in an environment for survival and reconditioning it for an environment for thriving may take time. Your body holds so much information and knowledge from your history of trauma even if you do not remember it. Your body has stored memories, touch, smell, taste, sight, and sounds related to every trauma. "
Shae began her career in mental health by gaining access to help people in her local community as a paraprofessional in 2012.
"I was there to teach them skills to improve their lives. However, I still ended up listening to their many stories about their fears, traumas, and how things weren’t getting better. I started to notice a common thread within these homes and how many of their stories linked back to their childhoods," Shae shared.
From there, she decided to further her education so she could help the Black community change its perspective on mental health. She returned to college for her second master's degree, which is based in counseling. However, even after dedicating time to study, she felt something was missing from what she was learning.
"I found the missing piece of the puzzle at a trauma training in 2018," she said. "Here, I learned that trauma was held in the body. My mouth dropped to the floor."
Astonished by this new realization and the fact that she hadn't learned this in college, she had an eureka moment.
"The lightbulb went off in my head. The many times I heard the stories of families and women tell me, “Trying to change my attitude is not working” or “Just trying to calm down doesn’t work either...” now made sense. You can’t talk your way out of trauma and sometimes the coping skills are not sustained. The stored memories, hurt, and pain may be retriggered by talking about through traditional talk therapy and something else was needed," she said.
After this revelation she began to study even more. A self-proclaimed nerd, this was no big deal to her. She eventually found and began specialized trainings that focused on trauma.
"All of these trainings (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR), Brainspotting, Hypnotherapy, and Internal Family Systems) are aimed at working with the parts of the body that are involved with regulating and reprocessing trauma within the brain and the nervous system," she explained. "I am also pending the start of a 3-year training in Somatic Experiencing in September."
Shae understands the importance of therapy from a professional and personal standpoint. She is a survivor of childhood trauma and domestic violence.
"Although they were both difficult experiences, getting therapy and help were the best decisions I could have made at the time," she recalled. "I was able to recognize the importance of my mental health and self-care so that I could care for others around me as well as grow into the best version of myself that I could be. Now, I am able to provide trauma therapy to others who have went through similar experiences as myself and to let others know there is healing on the other side."
All of her drive and learning eventually led her to an area of focus.
"I am on a mission to help marginalized communities, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ understand the importance of how trauma manifests in the body and how important finding trauma-informed care is. Along with bringing a stop to intergenerational trauma. Many marginalized populations struggle with the stigma of therapy. So much so, that trauma continues to manifest within these communities and is passed on from generation to generation."
In terms of healing from trauma, Shae has a message.
"Healing is on the other side. However, the journey may be long," she said honestly.
She spends time encouraging women to gain emotional freedom from their past traumas on Instagram.
"Overall, I want my fellow community to reach out and find the help they need. Seek a trauma informed therapist who knows how to work with trauma if you are in need of help. I am available to see clients in Georgia and Florida and will start coaching for those struggling with setting boundaries in October."
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