Trauma ‘fact of life’
BY STEVEN WARBURTON
Staff I am lying on a treatment table on the top floor of a big house on Treehaven Road. If I tilt my head to the left, I am treated to a panoramic view of Cooper Marsh, frozen now in this subzero weather. Between the two triangle-shaped windows that offer this view hangs a picture of Ganesh, one of the most wellknown gods in the Hindu pantheon of deities.
The room, like the rest of the house, is immaculate. My host is Shanti Warner, a South Glengarry-based trauma and anxiety therapist. She is in the room with me and she is silent. Her eyes are closed; her face serene, as if in a trance. I can feel her hands under my back as she works on my adrenal glands. Over the course of the next half hour, she will slowly work towards my stomach and, finally, to my brain stem. This is not a massage. Her fingers do not knead my muscles. It is only touch. When the 30-minute session ends, I am relaxed.
“Trauma happens when your nervous system gets overwhelmed and cannot protect you from something it perceives as a threat to life or limb,” Ms. Warner explains.
“Trauma is a pervasive fact of modern life and most of us have been traumatized.”
Ms. Warner maintains that we are all traumatized on a daily basis. “Some of us are traumatized getting out of bed or driving on an icy road or having a confrontation with someone.”
She says that when the nervous system becomes disrupted or overloaded, it manifests itself as depression or anxiety or illness.
“A lot of trauma comes from abuse of some sort.”
While a lot of therapists will encourage patients to talk about their past experiences, Ms. Warner says that’s not what she does.
“We don’t ask people to tell their stories because they are retraumatizing and we want to avoid that.”
Instead, Ms. Warner practises Somatic Experiencing, which she describes as a “potent biological method for resolving trauma symptoms and chronic stress. She says the approach is gentle, “guiding the client to develop increased tolerance for difficult body sensations and suppressed emotions.”
She helps people deal with a number of conditions including PTSD, anxiety, and depression, which is what she treated me for in her Treehaven Road treatment room. Although I am fortunate that I don’t suffer from depression, I can still attest that my time in her care was very relaxing.
Ms. Warner is also a third- generation yoga teacher with 40 years of experience.
She has a number of certificates in her basement, including one from the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, whose 216hour course she completed.
SOMATIC EXPERIENCE: Shanti Warner stands in front of some of the certificates she’s received.