I have trained in Identity-Oriented Psychotrauma Theory (IoPT): a theory, psychotherapy practice and, more broadly, a philosophy of life developed by Franz Ruppert on the basis of his research and experience over the last 30 years.
Many aspects of IoPT resonate with the approaches of a range of authors and practitioners, like the work of Gabor Maté (on the effect of trauma on one’s mental and physical health), Bessel van der Kolk (on how trauma affects the brain and body), Peter Levine (on trauma emotions being trapped in the body), Richard Schwartz (on how to deal with the fragmented parts of our self), or Resmaa Menakem (on the transgenerational nature of trauma—or how we carry “histories” inside ourselves). Read more.
In this perspective “trauma” is not (necessarily) something catastrophic that only happens in extreme situations, like natural disasters, war, or when we are victims of violence. Trauma affects us all.
What is “trauma”?
“Trauma” is any experience that we find overwhelming: something that psychologically, physically, or both, is too intense or happens too fast for us to process.
We might undergo this experience as a result of injustice, unkindness, violence, or neglect. In this sense, it might be something that happens to us: an accident, a loss, an attack. It can also be something that did not happen: for instance, a parent who was not able to take care of our basic needs when we were very small because of his/her own trauma; or who, despite loving us, did not provide love in the way we would have liked; or yet again a dream that, despite all our efforts, never got to be realized.
The consequences of trauma
If we are not able to respond to the overwhelming circumstances we are in by removing ourselves from the situation— flight —or directly addressing the cause of the threat— fight —in order to be able to survive we either freeze or submit (fawn). A part of our psyche, in practice, splits off and get “buried” into our unconscious, where it will continue to live without us either realizing it is there and/or being able to reach it. What we have perceived as unbearable, in other words, is hidden away, into the depths of our mind and our body.
To keep the emotions and memories of this unbearable experience away from consciousness takes a huge amount of our energy. As a result, we might feel tired all the time, find it difficult to concentrate, to be creative and to see solutions. We might feel confused and unable to be fully ourselves—very much like being a PC with a programme constantly running in the background and draining our resources. We might end up living in a “state of emergency”, where we are constantly on guard and cannot find rest or peace, neither within ourselves, nor with others. The tension we store in the body might further turn into physical pain or, worse, over time, into chronic illness.
The aim of therapy: recovering and re-discovering your self
The aim of the therapy is to provide a safe space where you can make contact with- and integrate your split-off parts in order to recover your wholeness. This process is called “self-encounter” and consists, quite literally, in meeting your self. In this approach the individual’s ability for self-healing is central. As a therapist, I guide you and support you in accessing your inner self and inner knowledge at your own pace.
How it works
The therapy session always begins with an “intention”: a statement, a question, an association of words related to a problem or issue you wish to address, explore, find clarity about.
Examples of intentions could be:
“Why do I feel anxiety about [a particular issue]?”
“I want to leave grief behind”
“I and my partner”
Or anything else that is meaningful to you.
The intention is the starting point for the “self-encounter.”