Dec. 14, 2022

Healing from Complex PTSD: Expert Strategies and Tips for Trauma Recovery

Today, we speak with our amazing guests, Dr. Laura Berman, Ilene Smith, Nikole Mitchell and Katie Spotz about how to heal from complex PTSD and move forward in life. If you've experienced trauma and are looking for practical tips and strategies to heal and move forward, this...
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Today, we speak with our amazing guests, Dr. Laura Berman, Ilene Smith, Nikole Mitchell and Katie Spotz about how to heal from complex PTSD and move forward in life. If you've experienced trauma and are looking for practical tips and strategies to heal and move forward, this episode is for you. Tune in to hear from a compassionate expert who understands what you're going through and is here to help you find the support and guidance you need to heal and thrive.

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Learn how to heal and overcome childhood trauma, narcissistic abuse, ptsd, cptsd, higher ACE scores, anxiety, depression, and mental health issues and illness. Learn tools that therapists, trauma coaches, mindset leaders, neuroscientists, and researchers use to help people heal and recover from mental health problems. Discover real and practical advice and guidance for how to understand and overcome childhood trauma, abuse, and narc abuse mental trauma. Heal your body and mind, stop limiting beliefs, end self-sabotage, and become the HERO of your own story. 

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Dr. Laura Berman - How To Step Into Self-Love: A Guide For Greater Relationships

Michael: So, when you're in this fracture, you want to be able to step in and figure out who you are, to let go of this shame and the guilt that's associated understanding probably that it's tied into the way you were loved. How do you start to like build confidence, belief, self-love, like the things that you need to do to like traverse that fracture into being whole?

Dr. Laura: Yeah. Well, I think the key where many people kind of leap over and don't wanna address is really owning what happened, you know, and there's more often than not many what happened, not just one thing that happened but also more as, or more importantly, there are the facts or the remembrances of what happened. But there even more importantly is those parts of yourselves that you disconnected to when those things happened. And so, what I try to help people understand is that we all have all these parts of ourselves that are like, you know, it’s almost like if you can envision yourself made up of a million different puzzle pieces of all these different little parts of yourself at all these different ages and stages of life that you just kind of disconnected from and put in a basement somewhere. And we spend our lives not wanting to, just like when I was a kid and when most people are kids, you know, there's that dark scary basement in your grandma's house or something and you kind of run by, no one wants to go near there, God forbid you gotta go down there and get something. It's really scary there. Monsters in the basement. I'm not even gonna look there. Right. And we do that to ourselves. And so, more often than not, I find that people just, there are all these parts of ourselves that we don't wanna be with or see because there's so much shame and confusion and darkness and we're still connected to the fear that we felt as that three-year-old, five-year-old, seven-year-old, ten-year-old, whatever it was. And so, we don't even wanna look at it, and so we just spent our lives pushing that aside, pretending it's not there and of course, those are the ones that are driving the bus in our relationships, right? Those are the ones that are reacting when we're triggered or making these unhealthy decisions in love. If we were to make those decisions from the conscious whole person adult that we are now, we would make them differently. But the ones that are kind of making those decisions are those smaller hurt shadow parts of ourselves.

So, for me, so much of healing comes from welcoming all of those parts to the table. And what I find more often than not is, you know, like if you go down into that dark scary basement and you're expecting all these ghouls and evil beings and poltergeist and crazy things down there, you turn on the light and it's all these sweet little, innocent, beautiful little younger parts of yourself, and all they want is for you to see them and integrate them and be there for them in the way you would a child or a friend, or a loved one the way you are for plenty of people in your life, it's about being willing to do that for yourself. And what I find time and time again, which is one of the most beautiful parts of the work that I do, is that when shame is exposed to the light, it almost always evaporates. And so, that is such a huge part of healing because that's how those parts of yourself can be integrated, and now they're in your conscious awareness. So, when you're next presented with that circumstance where you put up a wall or you sabotage, or you overreact, or you run away. You are aware and you're like, oh, that's that little seven-year-old that learned that love can't be trusted, or that if I open my heart that it'll get stomped on or I'll be gobsmacked, no sweet one that is not, that's not the truth. Right? I understand why you adopted that belief, ‘cuz that was all you could understand a child is narcissistic by nature, everything that happens around them is because of them. Right. So, if mom or dad hurt me or leave me or abuse me, I must deserve it, if I were more of something or less of something, then they wouldn't do that, that's how a child's mind work. Now, that's not how we look at it as adults if a child were to come to say that to us as an adult, we would say, of course that's not true. But we don't do that for ourselves ‘cuz we're not willing to be with those parts of ourselves or we don't know how to.


Ilene Smith - How to Heal from Your Past Trauma

Michael: What are some safe ways that we can start to get back into our body?

Ilene: Well, I think the first thing and one of the very first things that I teach my clients is we have to get out of the story because we get stuck in the story and we need to start becoming our own observer. So, we know what happens when we get stuck in that story, right? There's a spinning out, right? So, we're either what I call future tripping or we're ruminating about the past, so you're not present. And so, what does that do? That creates that actually the nervous system and the body starts feeling like it's under threat.

So, what I teach my clients is we have to become our own observer. Meaning, rather than being in this story, it sounds something more like this, the dialogue that you're having with yourself. I notice that I can't stop thinking about what happened yesterday. I notice that I'm ruminating about what I'm gonna do tomorrow. I notice that I'm feeling this intense energy running through my body. So, it's being able to observe yourself and then being able to observe your body sensations. And so, by doing that, what we do is we start slowing down the nervous system, we start bringing ourselves back into the present because observation is how we become more present, so, that's to me is step A.

And then of course is there's all sorts of basic things that I will teach clients, like something as simple as let's say you know that your tendency is to dissociate. And so, if we can name it, we can work with it. So, even though you may go into a dissociative state, what if you are able to observe it and then you start noticing what happens before you go into that state. I notice that I'm starting to feel my system being flooded. I notice that I feel my heart rate going really fast. I noticed that I can't catch my breath. Okay, you may go in there, but this is at least a step to start working with those body sensations, because every experience that we're having and every emotion that we have has a sensation.

So, in the somatic work, we're working with sensation, we're working with imagery, we're working with behaviors, affect and meaning we call it basics of somatic experiencing is what we call SIBA, the acronym for all those things. And so, the first step to all of this is bringing us into that awareness of what's actually going on and also to be able to piece together our nervous system.

So, in my book, I worked with a researcher for almost a year to develop a series of assessments for the reader to start piecing together how their nervous system is functioning. So, at least if we can start laying it, and we can start seeing it, we start bringing that, bringing ourselves into that awareness, and then we start building our bodies as that safe container, as we start recognizing what's even happening.


Nikole Mitchell - The Only Truth About Creating the Life of Your Dreams

Michael: When you're in this shift and you're starting to realize like, wait a second, in your words, I can have the buffet. What were the things that were actually happening that was reinforcing that belief?

Nikole: Oh my gosh, I'm so glad you gave that example of watching Lifestyle Search and Famous and the comment your grandma made because that's how we get program without even realizing we were being programmed as kids, it's these little things that are family or friends or people in society's sakes, my dad was the same way, where it's just like, to be rich is to be gross. To be rich is to be ungrateful and greedy. So, when I decided to become rich, I had a lot of deprogramming, a lot of unlearning about what that meant because I couldn't even say the word rich. I would cringe when I'd say I want to be rich, as if that was inherently wrong, right? So, I had to go back and neutralize those stories and realize wealth is neutral. Money is neutral. It doesn't change you. It amplifies who you really are. So, if you're greedy, you just have more to be greedy with. If you're generous, you have more to be generous with. And I know that I'm a generous and goodhearted person, so if money belongs to anyone, it belongs to me. And so, I go through and like take these like memories like you that I have throughout childhood and then flip the script, right? And so like, don't get your hopes up and so I imagine my grandma saying to me, Girl, that's gonna be you. And like retelling the story where it infused me with belief, infused me with power, infused me with hope versus feeling crapped on and small and silly for having these desires to be rich and famous, which is exactly what I've always wanted to be. And to finally have a taste of it in my current life feels so good because now I feel like my outsides match my insights. My insights have always known what I've wanted. My external circumstances just never reflected it back to me. It reminds me of Lady Gaga when she like first went viral and becoming famous, and she was being interviewed and they said, how does it feel to be famous? And she said, Oh, I've always been famous. You're just now catching on. And I was like, yes, that's it. Like those of us who know we're meant to be great, successful, famous, wealthy, rich, beyond reason, whatever our things we know, we know from such an early age and we have all these people around us who don't want us to get hurt, who don't want us to be disappointed. So, they crap on our dreams and our desires to try to keep us safe. But trying to keep us safe keeps us small. And in order to go big, you have to take risks. You have to make unsafe decisions, right? You have to invest in yourself at a balance you never thought you would ever do to create the lifestyle, the business, the income of your dreams. And so, thank you for sharing that. And I like that's where the work happens. Are you willing to take these stories and scripts that are passed down to you flip it on its head, and then use that to infuse you to become the most expansive, wealthiest, successful version of yourself?


Katie Spotz - Live Your Life On Your Own Term

Michael: And so, I'm wondering, I guess the question really, if I were to parse it down is what, if any role does fear play in your life?

Katie: So, a lot of the decisions, like I don't have this list of all the challenges I wanna do in my life because every challenge leads to the next one, gives me the confidence to take the next one. I am very upfront and honest last year, I attempted and succeeded at a Guinness World Record for the most ultra-marathons run in a row. So, it was 11 days of running an ultra-marathon every day. And I was, you know, one of my posts beforehand is like, this is gonna be a grand adventure or an epic catastrophe, let's find out together. And so, I was so much humility and like, respect for endurance, and I could run a hundred miles and do a bunch of these races and I will go into it being like, anything could happen, there's no guarantees, no matter how many times you do it. So, I mean, I guess, there's not that much fear because there's not much to lose if your identity isn't what you accomplish or achieve like in my twenties, I'm 30 now. In my twenties, I thought my identity and all my worth came in, what I accomplished, how many people I helped to get clean water and that was it. And so, I think because faith is a part of my story now, I am so much more free to do things without worrying about failure because it's not like, I mean, God already knows what he made me capable of doing, and so, it's not like he's gonna be disappointed if I don't reach some kind of personal goal because he already knew and it's just using what you have. So, what's the big deal about, you know, that I think the biggest fear is usually failure and what's the big deal if your identity doesn't change whether you fail or succeed. But I think, a lot of these challenges have to do with a calling and I know, you know, I'm very like logic based, so I need to break down what that means. For me, a calling means something that like, I'm drawn to, it's the thing I wanna, like, I research, I spend my time reading about, I talk to people about, the thing I wonder about, like whether you're in the shower, just going on the walk like what is that thing that you are just drawn to like, and you wanna know and you're curious about and so, I think that is more the driver. And I guess one of the other like fears that I have is, I think it would be, looking back, like the greatest fear I have is like looking back, say I'm 80 years old, looking back at my life and just being filled with what ifs and if only these, and looking back and wondering what would my life be like if I lived the life I was called to, if I lived the life I was meant to? And I mean, that's it, I mean, we don't need people running more marathons, but we do need people to live the lives that they were meant to, and they were called to and show up to be their best and so, my greatest fear is that. And so, in some ways, I guess that is a fear that that drives me.

Dr. Laura BermanProfile Photo

Dr. Laura Berman

Dr. Laura Berman is a world-renowned and well-loved sex, love and relationship therapist. She earned two Masters Degrees and a PhD from New York University, and has spent the past 30 years devoting her career to helping others learn to love and be loved better from a mind, body and spiritual perspective.

Dr Berman has been sharing her wisdom in public forums for decades. She was a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and has since continued to be a sought after expert, frequently offering advice on-air and television. She has appeared on almost every major daytime and national news television show, and been featured in most major news and magazine publications in the United States. Dr Berman is New York Times best selling author of 9 books, and an award-winning syndicated radio host. She currently hosts the popular love and sex advice podcast, The Language of Love.

Nikole MitchellProfile Photo

Nikole Mitchell

Life Coach

I was the poster child for people-pleasing, perfection, and scarcity mindset (not enough time! not enough money! not enough friends!). I was exhausted. And broke. And ready for a new narrative. I knew I had a big calling on my life, and I was tired of feeling like it was just out of my reach!

To access this dream life, I had to shed layers that no longer served me. I had to own the fullness of who I was, even if it meant disappointing important people in my life. So I came out publicly as queer. I left the Christian faith. And I took a deep breath of fresh air for the first time in a long time. I was FREE! Because I was ME. That's when everything changed in my life for the better.

I went from food stamps to making multiple six figures doing what I love (life coaching and modeling), and I now have privilege to help others do the same.

If you're ready to own the fullness of your magic and have all your dreams come true, I've got you.

I am a kickass life coach who helps dreamers, leaders, and celebrities create the life of their dreams and thrive in EVERY area of life. Despite what your parents, society, or religion may tell you, you can have it all. Struggling and suffering are NOT required. Ease and flow are your birthright. Abundance and opportunities are calling your name. It is who you're meant to be.

What you believe you can have will be yours. So let's expand your beliefs, clear any blocks, and get you in the flow where you will find everything you are looking for.

Everything I do - as a speaker, writer, and life coach - is to change individual lives AND to bring people together from all walks of life and equip them with the tools to go back to their communities and make the world a more beautiful place.

Welcome to this space.


Katie SpotzProfile Photo

Katie Spotz


Meet Katie. She is an endurance athlete, charitable ambassador, author, and world-record holder. The list of accomplishments to her name is long, and includes five Ironman triathlons, cycling across the country, a 325-mile river swim, running 100 miles nonstop in under 20 hours, and a solo row across the Atlantic Ocean.

But this wasn’t just any row; when Katie arrived in Guyana, South America, after 70 days at sea, she set a world record for the youngest ever solo ocean rower and the only American to row solo from Africa to South America.

Katie became the 1st person to run 138-miles nonstop across Maine in 33 hours, raising funds for a clean water project in Tanzania. Most recently, Katie set a new Guinness World Record for the most consecutive days to run an ultramarathon distance in Run4Water. Her 341-mile journey began in Cincinnati and finished in Cleveland, Ohio, after running 11 ultra-marathons for 11 days consecutively to fund 11 water projects in Uganda.

Ilene SmithProfile Photo

Ilene Smith

Moving Beyond Trauma

Ilene holds a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling and a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology. In addition to licensure as a Mental Health Counselor in Arizona, she is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) through the GROW Training Institute, Inc. and a Somatic Experiencing Professional (SEP) who completed a 3-year training with the Somatic Experiencing Institute founded by Peter Levine.

After years of seeing clients with failed attempts at resolving mental health issues including addiction, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and chronic pain, Ilene was determined to find solutions to bring about real change for her clients. Ilene’s extensive experience, trainings and observation allowed her to cultivate Somastasis Theory for healing trauma. Ilene believes psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual discomfort can only be resolved when we incorporate the body into the process of healing. Through teaching the body to trust its language of sensation one gains greater capacity for resilience. “When we are safe in our bodies we have the foundation for developing a synergy between the body and mind and no longer sense danger when danger is not present”. Ilene Smith

Ilene’s work is rooted in the principles of Somatic Experiencing (SE), Attachment Theory, and Polyvagal Theory By working with the body tissue, muscle memory and nervous system she safely brings traumatized individuals back into a new and empowered body. Her work supports clients in developing a deeper and more meaningful relationship within and ultimately greater capacity for resilience and joy. Clients move from states of fixity and fragmentation to a life of fluidity, ease and vitality. The result of this process is freedom and expansion which allowing clients to experience autonomy and self-respect.

Ilene is passionate about assisting clients in healing and living a life with exuberance and curiosity. Ilene has lived in Arizona for 20 years. She loves to travel, collect art, cycle, and practice yoga in her spare time.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.