There's No Shame In Survival With Dr. Kate Truitt
Are you tired of letting fear, anxiety, stress, and trauma dictate your life? Are you even more tired of letting other people tell you what to say, how to act, and what to feel? Are you ready to break free of your past and reclaim your power? If you're ready to harness the power of your brain and become the architect of a joyful life you love, then don't miss this episode! Tune in as Host Ellie Shefi talks with world-renowned neuroscientist and clinical psychologist, Dr. Kate Truitt, about effective ways to navigate fear, anxiety, stress, and trauma. Dr. Truitt is the Global Director of Research and Curriculum Development for Havening Techniques and CEO of Dr. Kate Truitt and Associates, The Trauma Counseling Center, and the Amy Research Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on advancing brain science in psychotherapy. In 2014, Dr. Truitt founded Viva Excellence, an organization that provides cutting-edge training and seminars that bring together the newest advancements in neuroscience, resiliency, stress, and trauma treatments. A renowned researcher, Dr. Truitt is an expert on brain health during the recovery process, treatment outcomes, and psychophysiology. Dr. Truitt is also the author of the upcoming books "Breathe" and "Healing in Your Hands - Harnessing Neuroplasticity to Heal the Past, Create the Present, and Build the Future." She learned how to free herself, and today, she shares with you the tools to do the same! Fear, anxiety, stress, and trauma are not meant to rule your life! If you're ready to harness your power, silence your inner critic, and heal yourself with your own hands so you're free to live a life you love, this episode is a must-see!
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There's No Shame In Survival With Dr. Kate Truitt
Today's guest is a Neuroscientist and Clinical Psychologist who has dedicated her life to advancing the treatment of trauma, grief, and stress-related disorders. She is the Global Director of Research and Curriculum Development for Havening Techniques, and the CEO of Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates, the Trauma Counseling Center, and the Amy Research Foundation, a nonprofit focused on advancing the role of brain science in Psychotherapy.
In 2014, she founded Viva Excellence to provide cutting-edge trainings and seminars that bring together the newest advancements in the fields of neuroscience, resiliency, stress, and trauma treatments. She's a renowned researcher and an expert on brain health during the recovery process, treatment outcomes, and psychophysiology. She's the author of the forthcoming books, Breathe and Healing in Your Hands: Harnessing Neuroplasticity to Heal the Past, Create the Present, and Build the Future.
Please welcome Dr. Kate Truitt.
You are a powerhouse! What a trailblazer and an industry leader you are. It is an honor and a privilege to have you here with us.
I could say the same about you, Ellie. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to have this experience with you.
You are amazing. What inspired you to specialize in the treatment of traumatic stress and PTSD?
We all have histories. The story of my own depression and anxiety certainly played a role in the choices that I made a few decades ago. It's always incredible to think about how time flies. When I was coming face-to-face with my own depression and anxiety as a late teenager, young twenty-something, I remember sitting in a class on neuroscience and recognizing, "We all have a brain." And that brain has a job.
The job is to make sure we breathe, hence the name of the book. The job of the brain is to make sure we keep taking steps forward and do the things that help us survive. When I connected that, the other piece that I linked into was our brain's job is to keep us alive and everywhere we go, our brain goes.
What if what we're doing right now, the emotions, the cognition, the thoughts, and the feelings of this current moment are a part of how our brain learned to survive? What if that could be changed? That created a different doorway for me.
I had wonderful mentors along the way who invited me into a deep exploration of how the brain and the body work together to ensure we not just survive, but then move into a state of thriving - hence trauma and resilience.
Resilience is about thriving. When we can lean into our trauma and explore and develop an understanding of what happened and why it happened, we start to thrive because we grow stronger and wiser through what has occurred.
It’s that exploration. There's something about when we understand and it makes sense that we can breathe. It’s like, "Now I get it. Now I understand."
It allows shame, guilt, over-functioning, and all of that stuff to step back because it's like, "I'm doing that because I was taught that for survival. What if I can just be?"
"What if I can just be?" It is such a powerful question that opens the doorway. You've touched on the connection between neuroscience and trauma, but let's go a little deeper into that. For you, what does trauma mean and what is the connection then?
It's interesting as a neuroscientist and also as a trained psychologist, the two experiences don't necessarily line up in terms of what we were taught in graduate school and the educational trajectory. From a neuroscience point of view, a stressful or traumatic experience will fundamentally shift the way our brain is making sense of the world. It links into core brain areas, particularly the thalamus, the amygdala, and the hippocampus, which then have downstream effects on the rest of the way our brain makes sense of the world.
As a psychologist, we were taught that trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder, which means it's what happens after a traumatic experience. One of the things that my teams and I work hard to do is to reconcile those two experiences to create a thrive state, and to recognize that every traumatic experience we're talking about has opportunities, possibilities, and empowerment built into it.
That in-and-of-itself changes the neuroscience of the traumatic or stressful experience into one that the entire or whole brain can start to make sense of. That then links us back into the psychology of our thoughts and how we are narrating or making sense of the world.
It's a fine dance when we're looking at the idea of trauma and the descriptors or the story that we're putting to a traumatic experience. A traumatic experience left alone puts us in a victim state. A traumatic experience transitioned into empowerment puts us in a survivor state which then moves on to thrive.
That perspective is key. That reframe that you're talking about that you and your teams are able to help your patients and clients achieve, what a gift that is to be able to help someone navigate from that trauma or that victim state to the reframe into the survivor state, and then to continue that journey into the thriver state to reclaim their life and truly thrive. It seems like there is a significant connection between harnessing the power of that treatment approach to use the neuroscience-based approach when you are helping people navigate from trauma into thriving. Talk to us a little bit about that.
When we can say, "Hard things happen and I can be stronger because of the hard things," the therapeutic process changes completely. It's no longer, "Hard things happen and I'm defined by them." It's, "Hard things happen. What can I learn about myself because of the hard things?"
That's a mic drop moment. Say that again for our audience, because that's so empowering and so important.
It's the differential. "Hard things happen and I am defined by them," versus "Hard things happen. What can I learn about myself? The hard thing happened so that I am a stronger, wiser, and more empowered person."
When a hard thing happens, we go into survival mode. Our brain is designed to do that. It's designed first and foremost to make sure we keep breathing. If we're not breathing, nothing else matters.
In those reactionary moments, whether it be because we're in the moment of the hard thing or our brain is returning to a hard experience because some stimuli were triggered, our brain is still going into the "I want to keep you alive” state. When we bring that into the therapeutic process, it changes our ability to connect and support our patients because that's what we're supposed to do. Why would we feel shameful about any reaction to a perceived threat that our brain is having at a moment? There's no purpose in shame there because our brain is like, "High five, I'm keeping you alive. I'm doing the thing."
We all have a brain, and that brain’s job is to make sure we breathe.
I love that reframe because most people don't think about that. There's no shame in us surviving and our brain doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It's amazing. What a gift that our brain did what it's supposed to do and kept us alive. What a gift that we're alive. We get to learn and grow from it. I love that notion of there's no shame in survival.
I love how you brought in the get-to. That's the opportunity. We now get to go into the hard stuff. What are we going to learn? That's a uniquely human experience as far as we know. Maybe there are other creatures out there that do this type of experience, but we don't know. That curiosity in-and-of-itself is something that our brain is hardwired to link into. Our brain loves to feel like, "I can learn something." We're learning creatures. That's why we have a prefrontal cortex. Linking that into the neurobiology of the therapeutic process changes the story completely.
It's so empowering because as a patient, I had a hard day. I came home and rather than meditating, doing some havening, or taking a mindfulness walk, I poured myself a glass of wine or I drank a bottle of whiskey. Instead of going, "I feel shame," because I did an old coping mechanism that I'm trying to overcome, we can step back and go, "Why was that my easy button to go to instead of the other thing? Amy, my amygdala, what was going on in that moment where there wasn't space?”
There's no space for shame anymore. Instead, I get to learn about why I made a choice. It's going back to what we're supposed to do as children. We're supposed to be empowered to learn how to make these types of choices. For many of us, that's not an option that our brain gets because survival is about vigilance around our caregivers. "How do I ensure they're going to take care of me, keep me safe, and love me?" That becomes my success button, which then leads to all of the other coping skills that may not work in our best favor.
I love that there's no space for shame and guilt. I love the reframe on that. Many people default when they're on a path of self-development, healing, growth, making new decisions, or building a new career, they slip up in their mind and default to the easy button. When they go back to those old paradigms and coping mechanisms that they are intentionally trying to shift, so often comes this slew of blame, shame, guilt, failure, and all that negative, hurtful, and harmful self-talk. We beat ourselves up for defaulting to the easy button. I love how you framed that.
For someone who is newer in their journey and defaulting to their easy button - that becomes their go-to response, coping mechanism, and action. Often, when someone is new in their journey and that's their default for something that they are actively and consciously trying to shift, that starts a landslide of negative self-talk of the blame, guilt, and all of that talk of, "I told you, you couldn't do it. You're a failure." All of this destructive and downward mental spiral is not enjoyable or healthy. How do you help someone in the middle of that downward spiral of negative self-talk? How do you help them to stop that madness?
One of the most important things in all of that is that is so human. It doesn't matter how much we know about brains, therapy, or psychology. That's a human thing that we all do. I still do it to this day, even as someone who specializes in this. The brain is ultimately trying to keep us safe. Our default mode is those behaviors that we have learned help us to survive and function day-to-day. As we grow up and become adults, we have expectations and pressures. Those coping mechanisms may not serve us the way we want them to. They can start to feel maddening, shameful, guilt-inducing, and crazy.
How do I know this? I lived with PTSD for quite some time. That crazy was a litany that went through my head like, "I am crazy." The first step in creating space is that separation of, "This is me, my thinking brain. Me as I know myself has this conscious, motivated drive to create a way of being. My amygdala, who we lovingly call Amy, is a fierce maternal protector who steps in to ensure we stay alive and keep breathing. Sometimes Amy responds and reacts to things in ways that do not align with me and what I really want.
It’s that framework of, "This is my brain working diligently and desperately.” It can feel desperate when we're in the madness. It's desperately trying to keep me alive and separating that from, "I am on my healing recovery journey." Amy is working hard. How do I turn towards Amy with love, acceptance, understanding, and even compassion? How do I understand why she's working as hard as she is? Where has she learned that she has to work this hard to escape or disconnect from this world?
It is working hard when we do the easy button. It doesn't feel that way, but it is working hard because we are shifting things away from what the self wants. How do we acknowledge that and connect to that? That space between the two, Amy and self, starts to create a way to stop the madness and lean into empowerment. It brings curiosity and opportunity on board.
I love the notion of having the grace but also having the dialogue and the literal separation of being able to understand, "That's Amy, my amygdala." That's different from the conscious me that is choosing what I want my life to look like right now. It's the "Who am I? What do I want now?" versus "I've been alive. Our brains have been wired like this for thousands of years. It has done a good job of keeping me alive each and every moment of each and every day because here I am."
That's an amazing reframe. I love the visual notion of separating them and that separation allows that space. You said something important that the audience can implement. That's to approach it with curiosity. That curiosity also creates space and possibility. It removes the blame, guilt, shame, judgment, and all the things because you're just being curious.
There are two cognitive paradigms that our brain is hardwired to do that we can harness for good. Although in the therapeutic space, it can feel like they get in their way. One is our brain is designed to have a negativity bias. We are hardwired to look for hard things. In the 21st century, that doesn't feel like it serves us. If we contextually go back millions of years to the grassland, and I'm walking down a path and a bush starts shaking, we want a negativity bias because we want our brain to go, "There could be a lion, tiger, or bear in that bush." That is designed to keep us alive.
In the 21st century, it's much trickier. If we harness that negativity bias along with another bias called the confirmation bias, our brain loves to be right. In rumination, anxiety, and depression, our brain starts going, "What if it's the end of the world? What if this happens? What if they reject me?" That's negativity bias and confirmation bias connecting, which is stunning. We get dopamine dumps. The more we think of hard things, our brain is going, "You're right. That could happen too. The sky is definitely going to fall."
We're getting rewarded neurobiologically for all of those thoughts. Instead, if we go, "Amy, high five negativity bias, you are on alert for the shaking bush. Confirmation bias, we're safe." We start to balance the two out. We are honoring the brain's negativity bias, which is organic, and then we're harnessing the power of the confirmation bias to change and shift the way our brain is functioning and showing up.
We've talked about how the brain responds during the trauma. We're starting to dive in a little bit on how the brain responds during the recovery process. Let's talk a little bit more about the brain's response when you are navigating through when you are recovering.
As we're recovering, one of the main things we want to be focusing on is harnessing the brain's natural capacity for neurogenesis. There are certain parts of our brain that continue to develop new cells across the course of our life. The fact that our brain is neuroplastic, it's malleable and changeable. That's what causes a lot of distress when we have trauma or stress. The biggest opportunity in the recovery process is to use neuroplasticity and neurogenesis with intention.
When we're moving into the recovery process, we are gently healing through the traumatic experiences that our brain has encoded, as well as a scheme or a framework that has defined the narrative experience of how a person stays alive. We're then creating new narrative experiences and opportunities. We do that through working with both the prefrontal cortex, the narrative understanding self in the world, and our primal brain.
Resilience is about thriving. When we can lean into our trauma, explore, and develop an understanding of what happened and why it happened, we start to thrive.
We're high-fiving Amy, "Strong work. We're going to do this." We're letting her know that she's doing a great job and that we can stay safe in other ways. Recovery is a combination of what I think of as upstream and downstream effects to create a new version of self in the world, where we are empowered by every moment that has happened and led to this moment right here right now.
Let's talk about the technique that you use, Havening, and how that factors into your work and how that transforms a client's journey through recovery and building resistance.
Havening is a newer neuroscience-based modality in the space of psychotherapy. It grew out of tapping or EFT, as well as EMDR, as a psycho-sensory modality. The thing that's unique about havening is it harnesses positive or mindful touch to create electrochemical shifts in the brain. It becomes an incredibly powerful tool in the fact that positive touch, self-applied, has been shown to increase oxytocin, decrease blood pressure, increase heart rate variability, and decrease cortisol across the board. Even doing singular sessions of havening on acutely traumatic experiences or even distressing moments in the day-to-day life has sustained positive changes.
Here's the thing. We carry the capacity for touching our own hands. It's filling in a unique space in the psychotherapeutic community by being able to downregulate the system. The other thing that it does is it works directly with the amygdala. The scientific term for the Havening technique is the "Amygdala Depotentiation Technique." It's delinking these traumatic or stressful experiences that have resulted in these less than preferable behaviors, easy button habits, and "I'm crazy" thoughts.
All of those harmful thoughts that we think are tied to something called stress-induced structural plasticity. It's a type of neuroplasticity that's cortisol and norepinephrine-driven that changes our brain. Havening is the only thing I've seen that directly interacts with that to delink those neural freeways. We don't stay in that, "I'm so stupid."
We can delink it and go, "Amy was doing a great job. Strong work, brain, you kept me alive. What if I was pretty good at this? What if I was strong?" We can use neuroplasticity with Havening in a way that I've never seen before. It's exciting. It's a new tool on the market. It's a go-to tool. It's an integrative experience. It does change the game for how we work with trauma and stress.
You mentioned that it's applying self-touch. You have your hands, so you're able to do it. That ties in so beautifully with being able to bring this to people anywhere in the world to allow them to heal or regulate themselves. What a powerful tool.
Can you walk us through a short process or give us an example so that the audience can see what this looks like?
Two of my favorite regulating tools that I teach everywhere, you can find those on our YouTube channel and TikTok channel, are the CPR for the amygdala, which stands for Creating Personal Resilience for the amygdala, and the Creating Possibilities Protocol, which originally came out of my EMDR work all the way back in the mid-2000s. I've since tailored them to align with the neuroplastic opportunities of Havening.
CPR for the amygdala is all about wrapping bubble wrap around Amy when she's having a hard time or when she's feeling reactive and struggling to connect into the space to create a different choice. The nice and exciting thing about CPR for the amygdala is that when we're in a moment of emotional reactivity and we use CPR for the amygdala, we're creating an electrochemical experience in our brain that will soften whatever has become triggered or active in that moment. It makes it less likely to show up again in the future. That's part of creating the present and building the future.
First, let's step back to the mechanism of Havening, which is the Havening touch. This has four different specific motions. One is palm on palm. At the beginning of the pandemic, when everybody was washing their hands and singing songs, they were doing palm-Havening and CPR for the amygdala. This is one motion and this engages little fibers in our skin.
I call the second motion a Havening hug. It's a gentle, slow movement. You're giving yourself a nice hug, but it's moving because we want to engage specific receptors in our skin. Finally, the last two movements are across the brow. If you've ever had a stress headache, then you might be familiar with this motion, right under the eyes, circling around the cheekbones.
The Havening touches or these four motions engage mechanoreceptors in our skin that create a slower brainwave state in our brain. It enhances the power or the presence of a slow brainwave state. There are two. One is called Theta and the other one is called Delta. When we're in a moment of agitation, anxiety, or reactivity, it can feel like our brain is going fast. That's a Gamma or a hyper-Gamma wave. We're creating the opposite wave by using these touches.
We want to do CPR for the amygdala. Make sure that Amy can't start building those negativity bias and confirmation bias stories. We're changing her narrative by giving her a different job. One of the easiest versions of giving her a different job is counting breaths. As we know, breathing is one of Amy's core jobs, “Keep breathing. We got you.” We'll invite clients to breathe in to a count of four and exhale to a count of six, and apply the Havening touch while they're counting the numbers as they breathe in and as they exhale.
On our YouTube channel, we have a whole bunch of guided exercises for this. The idea is we want to make sure that we're intentionally giving our thinking brain a new job to distract Amy from building her own fearful narratives and stories, and oxygenating the brain in the body. Since Amy wants to make sure we keep breathing, it is a beautiful hack for that. We're letting our body know, "I have oxygen. I'm okay," while calming the brain down into, "I can be grounded and I'm okay." As breath work regulates the heart, CPR for the amygdala regulates the brain and the heart.
That is a powerful technique. Anyone can do the four touch movements. We all know how to wash our hands. We all know how to give ourselves a hug. Anyone who has had a stress headache, a tension headache, or sinus pain is familiar with those movements. How empowering that we're already equipped with the touch and the breathing, both of which we know how to do. It's so empowering. I love that you shared that with us.
You've mentioned your YouTube channel. I want to make sure that we are providing everyone with the direction of where they can go to watch these tutorials and guided meditations, and learn these techniques that you are sharing. Where can they go to find that?
Our YouTube channel is Dr. Kate Truitt. We started a TikTok channel back in October 2021. It has taken off which has been exciting. The entire premise of the TikTok channel is to put knowledge into people's hands. That is a space where anybody can come in and ask a question. Once a day, I respond to a question through a video format. That then also helps guide the content on the YouTube channel, which releases a psychoeducational video once a week, as well as a guided therapeutic exercise every Sunday.
It's so much fun. The entire premise is, "How do we literally put healing into people's hands?" It's a personal mission. I reflect on myself as a child growing up in the '80s. Therapy wasn't a thing, especially in the Midwest, and how my life would have been different. I wouldn't change anything about my life. I wouldn't be where I am if I hadn't had the moments I had. What if we can give access and knowledge and share this so that people know that they have the capacity to create and build the world they want to live in and become empowered by what they've been through?
I love that you are putting it on TikTok and YouTube. These are free resources that are available to anyone with internet. No matter where you are, what your financial situation is, or what your life's circumstances are, it's right there on your cell phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You have the ability to go and watch the videos and to Haven along with the videos and have these guided exercises. There is an entire treatment universe of all of your videos that are out for free. It’s available and accessible to all. That's incredible.
Why would we feel shameful about reacting to a perceived threat that our brain is having at the moment? There's no purpose in shame because our brain is like, "High five! I'm keeping you alive. I'm doing the thing."
That's the mission. Put ourselves out of business.
You don't find too many people that say, "Let's put ourselves out of business." I love that this is truly your mission and purpose. You step into it fully. You heed the call and stay aligned. Earlier you mentioned that you can have moments of fear, doubt, overwhelm, the imposter syndrome, or whatever the case may be. We all have moments in this human journey that we're on. You use Havening on yourself. What else do you do to get yourself out of those brief moments of fear, shame, guilt, self-doubt or judgment, and back into alignment?
There are so many things. There are so many moments. Andrew Huberman brought forward the idea of a side breath, which is a simple breathing exercise that has been shown to down-regulate the heart rapidly. I always wrap the Havening touch around everything, but even doing the side breath practice without the Havening touch is powerful. What that looks like is a single inhale and then before we exhale, we inhale again on top of the initial inhale and then do a slow gentle exhale. Research has shown that doing that breathing pattern for just one minute calms the heart rate exponentially which invites our thinking brain back online. I use that as another distraction technique in any moment of reactivity. I do a lot of self-awareness compassion work.
The other protocol, which is the Creating Possibilities Protocol, is harnessing the opportunity for curiosity, the confirmation bias, and doing a Google search of, "How can I feel differently in any given moment?" I probably do this 60 times a day. If I'm noticing I'm getting pulled by a fictitious tiger in a bush, maybe an email that came in, a text message or whatever it might be, I lean into how I would like to or prefer to respond to these stimuli. I inquire, "What if I was in that preferred feeling state?”
I always welcome that in with a Havening touch. I say it five times, and then the protocol itself goes from, "What if I was?" to "Can I be?" It's a deepening exploration of, "Can I be in this feeling state with this message?" It invites Amy to share any concerns or hesitations she has. Sometimes we do get stimuli that do have a threat or a stress element to them. We go, "Amy, can we feel this way?" As we explore that, she will pop up with any concerns or worries, and then we can move into the next five seconds, "Will I be?" and again deepening the curiosity with Amy.
You're building the relationship between self and Amy, and then finally moving into, "I am whatever my preferred feeling state is,” before I move into action. For those of us who have slightly more reactive brains, especially living in the stress of the pandemic, 2020 to 2022, a lot of our nervous systems have a smaller window of tolerance. The Creating Possibilities Protocol is an easy way to capture two natural biases that our brain does. We then apply the Havening touch to neurobiologically build new neural freeways with intention and deepening our relationship with Amy.
This is the exciting part. The more our brain learns to do that organically, it becomes an immediate checkpoint when a stressful stimulus arises. It's the same thing with CPR for the amygdala. The more we practice CPR for the amygdala, the more our brain learns, "I'm going to breathe when I'm noticing reactivity and then I’m going to inquire, “What if? How can I be different? Can I be different? Can I do something else?" That creates choice.
I love those four questions. It's a progression of four simple questions. That's something that anyone can do. Anyone can walk through this process by simply asking themselves four simple questions. That's incredibly powerful and so accessible.
We've talked a lot about ways that we can navigate when we've been triggered or through our healing process. Let's shift gears a little bit and talk about the importance of self-care so that you have the reserves within you. You have a nice full cup. You are able to make choices, be present, and step into creation mode instead of reactive mode. What is your self-care practice?
I'm lucky to live my purpose, but the downside of that is there are blurry boundaries between me, my purpose, and when am I working and when am I taking the space for myself? My self-care practice is highly defined by a couple of critical factors. One of the things that we teach all of our patients is a Resilient Brain Care Program. I use this program in my day-to-day life. It is so empowering. It enhances my awareness of who I am and why my amygdala is doing wackadoodle things because my Amy can be wacky. How do I choose to harness the wacky and turn it into something useful and utilitarian?
In the morning, it's a simple wake-up. I wake up at the same time every single day to the best of my ability. The time change here has been a little tricky, but waking up and asking myself, "How do I feel as I wake up?" Amy doesn't sleep as we sleep. She processes. If there are disturbing sleep or nightmares, they will show up and carry through into our day. If we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, that's neurobiologically factual. That's real.
I like to do a scale of 0 to 10. 0 is I feel ready to conquer the day, and 10 is, "This is a bad day. This is not going to be good." If I'm above a 2 on that scale, then I do that CPR for the amygdala. It helps my brain calm down. I oxygenate. I do my breath work. I always drink water because we all naturally wake up dehydrated. Drink a big glass, 8 ounces, first thing in the morning. You'll be amazed at the impact of that. It's so positive. It should be before the coffee preferably, which is also good.
I then ask myself, "What energy do I need for today?" It might be I need to be grounded. Or I need to be energized. Or I need to be inquisitive or curious depending on the requests of the day. I do the Creating Possibilities Protocol. How do I bring that energy forward? What does it look like to embody that? Any time throughout the day, if I notice my mental state shifting, because I've anchored that Creating Possibilities Protocol, our brain holds on to learning for many hours. We can circle back and go, "I remember what that felt like this morning." Bring it back and build that neural pathway.
At the end of the day, we do a review. How was the day? Is there any stress that's continuing to linger? Is there anything that might impact my sleep? If there is, check-in, a little bit more CPR for the amygdala, let Amy know she can let it go, and then transition into the night. How do I want to feel tonight? Is this a date night or a relaxation night? Is my amygdala going, "That was a hard day, I want to push the easy button night? " Is this an easy button night or is this, "Let's work on building the new easy button?"
If we're still new in the journey or if things are hard, we go back to default mode, whatever that might be. It's always leaning in and also holding space for the fact that my brain had a journey, and loving my brain for the fact that I'm here breathing right now. If I have a reaction, an agitation, or a human moment - which we all have - I’m going, "My brain has made it to this point. That's okay.” How do I love my brain so that we can continue doing the things that matter and being the person that I want to be?
These are powerful self-care practices.
It just takes seven minutes a day.
You can fly through all of that, your check-in process and walk through the things that you've shared. It's just seven minutes a day. We all have that.
You have a couple of books coming out. We talked a little bit and touched on Breathe. Let's talk a little bit about Healing In Your Hands. Tell us more about that.
It is basically everything that I’ve been talking about. It is a book that will guide the reader through a personal experience of moving into a deep intentional relationship with Amy, and understanding how their unique amygdala has worked across the course of their life to keep them safe, helped them survive, and Phoenix up. How can they harness the empowerment from all of these old experiences that have happened in the past and bring them forward in a new way that serves who they want to be today?
Recovery is a combination of upstream and downstream effects to create a new version of self in the world where we are empowered by every moment that happened.
It is designed in many respects to be a companion book to Breathe, which is my own personal story of trauma to resiliency. The two work symbiotically hand-in-hand of here's how we understand our brains and the wackadoodle things that brains do. Here's how we learn to love ourselves and our brains with intention.
Your journey has not been an easy one. It's coming out in the book, Breathe, and we've alluded to it. We've talked a lot about creating space, high-fiving Amy, breathing, and some grace. How important is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is one of these tricky human experiences. One of the ways Amy can struggle with forgiveness is this experience of if I forgive, does it mean that I have forgotten the thing that caused pain or hurt me? That can become a major roadblock and barrier in the recovery journey, whether it be forgiveness of self. Sometimes we need to dig in, go deep, and forgive ourselves for things that have happened, choices that were made based on survival, or forgiveness of somebody else who has hurt us and resentments that we're still chewing on. Unpacking forgiveness is critical because we can forgive and let Amy know that we can still keep her safe. That's self. Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. Forgiving means creating space for learning and being back in our own power.
That is such a powerful reframe and an empowering perspective that so many of us can lean into and receive.
Let's imagine that you are coming to the end of your life best-lived. You have put yourself out of business. Everyone in the world is equipped to heal themselves. You have left it all on the table. You have done everything you came here to do and it has been a beautiful life. What do you want them to say about you?
I don't know if it's what I want them to say about me. This might sound like I'm making this up but it's true. Look how different the world is. I'm blessed to be a part of a larger journey that I have been invited into through the humans, yourself included, that I have met along this way. I'm just bringing one small voice and opportunity for personal empowerment and healing. At the end of the day, if that mission is accomplished, then it's me standing on the shoulder of giants with other giants standing alongside me going, "We did it."
That's what it boils down to. So much of this is shareware. It's going back to the old grasslands model of humanity that we are a village. Our brain is not designed to work in a village of billions of people, but here we are. What can we do to create common connection points amongst all humans? We all have similar brains. There is a way to link back to the village and help each other out. if I've done that, I've done the thing. That's my thing. People would be saying, "She did the thing." I would be like, "Yes, we did."
They will be turning to each other, "High five. She did the thing."
We all did it too. That's what it is.
We talked a little bit about how people can find your videos on YouTube and TikTok. How else can people get in contact with you? How can they find you? How can they learn more about the work that you do, about the Amy Foundation, and about all the things?
We have our website. DrTruitt.com is my clinical team. We're based in California, so we do provide services throughout California. Going to that website, we release monthly blogs on there and highlight different psychoeducational components that enhance the work on the YouTube channel. We have an Instagram account. It’s a more psychoeducational-based traditional Instagram.
I partner with Echo, a wonderful nonprofit out here in California, to provide self-healing workshops several times a year. They're virtual, so they can be attended anywhere by both the community as well as for clinicians to learn the foundations of Havening, especially the self-Havening components. It's EchoTraining.org. The proceeds of those trainings go to helping families in need who are struggling with difficulties within the family systems in order to help families raise up and stay together. That's a beautiful and powerful organization. I'm honored to work with them. I highly recommend checking out these workshops.
If clinicians want to learn more and if we have healers in the audience, you can go to Pesi.com or Pesi.com/Havening. I did a one-day workshop with them. We have a bunch of advanced trainings where you get to get into the nitty-gritty, clinical, powerful side of Havening, and how to integrate this into clinical care and enhance the work that you're doing with your patients. It's a great bolt-on to all traditional psychotherapy models because we're saying, "Here's neuroscience. Let's use that to enhance the work you're already doing." Those are the primary ways. We have all the shareware on YouTube and TikTok and the books are coming out.
There are so many ways and all of which are impactful. Everything that you're doing, whether it's the shareware on YouTube and TikTok, the seminars, and the workshops that you are teaching for patients and also for practitioners, the deeper dives for the practitioners and the healers out there, the work that you do with the various nonprofits, with your own nonprofit that you so brilliantly helm, all the things are beautiful and impactful.
Audience, run out and connect with Dr. Kate Truitt! Take advantage of this. There are few experts who would give you all of this content and the videos and teach you how to heal yourself for free. This is an invaluable resource. Check it out, spread the word, and be able to heal yourself.
Dr. Truitt, do you have any parting words or anything you would like to share with the audience?
The takeaway is when our brain does things and then we feel shame or self-judgment and we criticize ourselves, remember that the thing that's leading to those less than preferable feelings and the thing that happened was your brain is doing its best to love you in the way it was taught. Our brain is always trying to serve us. Amy is always trying to serve us. Honor and love that. High-five it. As soon as we go, "I got it, high five," then immediately, space opens up and we can shift. That's the hub of it all.
High five, Amy. You're doing awesome.
You're doing the thing. Now, let's learn how to do something else.
Thank you so much for being here with us. You are exceptionally busy. I am honored and grateful that you are here sharing these resources and tools, your wisdom and expertise, life, mission, purpose, and legacy with us. Thank you so much.
- Havening Techniques
- Andrew Huberman
About Dr. Kate Truitt
Dr. Kate Truitt is a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist who has dedicated her life to advancing the treatment of trauma, grief, and stress-related disorders. She is the Global Director of Research and Curriculum Development for Havening Techniques, and the CEO of Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates, the Trauma Counseling Center, and the Amy Research Foundation, a non-profit focused on advancing the role of brain science in psychotherapy.
In 2014, she founded Viva Excellence to provide cutting-edge trainings and seminars that bring together the newest advancements in the fields of neuroscience, resiliency, stress, and trauma treatments. A renowned researcher, she is an expert on brain health during the recovery process, treatment outcomes, and psycho-physiology. She is the author of the forthcoming books Breathe and Healing in Your Hands: Harnessing Neuroplasticity to Heal the Past, Create the Present, and Build the Future.