Gifts from Adversity

Trauma gives rise to an uncertainty about the absolute certainty of everything you hold dear in your life.

Traumatic experiences shatter your predictable world view – gone is everything you could count on. The truth was an illusion; the everyday activities seem meaningless and hopeless. There comes a time after the initial shock has passed that you have to build and renew to construct a new way of being and living in the world, a philosophy that is more tentative and flexible, we all experience disappointments and unexplainable tragedies at some point in our life. Resilience and psychological growth in the face of adversity is the focus of my own life story and those of the people I work with every day. I am a trauma psychologist and clinical hypnotherapist, a single parent, a mother of two, woman, artist, horse rider, lover and friend. My passion is creating amazing wellbeing and mindfulness with horses retreats here in the Blue Mountains Australia.

In my twenties I was compelled and driven to learn more about my secret inner life, why did I get so anxious and afraid when I tried to meditate and how come I couldn’t remember the day my Grandmother whipped me in public when I was fourteen years of age, but I could remember other terrible things that had occurred to me. These many layers of coping and surviving were mysteries to me, caused by post-traumatic stress and early childhood complex trauma. In my twenties I was a popular fashion model I had a fairly secure role on Sale of the Century, so a young woman with a successful career and an outrageous social life. I smoked, drank, went to all the best parties and had lots of boyfriends. Whilst being seen on prime time Television 5 nights a week, I began another life, I returned to University and studied furiously and smoked furiously for the next 9 years. I threw myself into psychology, philosophy, sociology, media and physiology. I got an education and qualified as a registered psychologist. I married the managing director of channel 9 and had my first child, in my early thirties I was divorced, shattered and started again. I hid the past from my colleagues and clients, because of the many stereotype judgements and stigma attached to my family of origin and mental health. I developed innovative workshops for women and later men and women. I trained other health professionals to facilitate their own groups through Nature Care College in Sydney. I had many hard lived experiences and transformed so many areas of my life, I had years of personal psychotherapy as part of my training, and became a more authentic and compassionate psychologist. I continued to learn and grow from helping others and travelling with them on their own inner journey's and life experiences. I am commited to being a compassionate and enthusiastic guide on your own exploration of Your inside - out.

Beyond Blue Mental health awareness programs

For the past 5 years I have been presenting mental health awareness education programs to managers, HR, employees in their workplace. I have presented to over 350 different organisations, industries. Over 5 thousand people have been included in these trainings. According to the recent National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing each year, 1 in 5 Adults aged between 16 to 85 years experience a high prevalence mental health disorder, anxiety and depression. 45 % of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their working life-time, and 50% of people do not seek treatment, so the estimates could be as high as 85% of the population of Australia. These figures would be similar in other parts of the World.

Post traumatic stress disorder PTSD is a diagnostic term used to classify people as having a mental health pathology. Symptoms and pathology are well defined and expected, often leaving someone debilitated for the rest of their lives. Instead of considering trauma consequences as pathological and disabling, how about we focus on Post traumatic growth (PTG), and highlight those people who have experienced complex trauma and adversity in their lives and have grown from this experience and even contributed in meaningful ways to their communities. People who have contributed to their communities in productive and rewarding ways. Resilience and character strengths are terms used in positive psychology to highlight growth from negative life events.

Increasingly Mindfulness, meditation practices are being taught to people who have been traumatised and suffering from PSTD to manage their symptoms. Mindfulness, and meditation are increasingly proving to be valuable for transformation and are one of the recommended treatments for people with PSTD and Mental health issues. VIA character strengths and positive psychology are of great interest too and can be applied to your life in meaningful ways.

Okay! So we know that mindfulness and meditation are helpful but I have found that, most people who have experienced server anxiety will tell you that they can’t meditate, they don’t like to meditate in fact they feel worse when they try. So this powerful and helpful practice is often left on the wayside. Drugs alcohol, addictions, obsessive compulsive behaviours are used to compensate the empty and painful feelings. I believe that given a safe and supervised environment most people can learn to meditate and understand the significance of their difficulties. Most silent meditation retreats are not relaxing, in fact quiet the opposite. There is a more gentle approach to learning the art of mindfulness - which is what led me toward Equine assisted therapy. Mindfulness with horses.

I have a personal and professional interest in gathering life enhancing stories, and with over 25 years teaching and counselling resilience and personal growth from Adversity. People's life stories of resilience and personal growth as an outcome of early childhood trauma, traumatic incidences, neglect and mental health issues is paramount to changing attitudes toward mental health issues.

The Retreat provides you will valuable time, time to reflect and get creative with your life. There is value in telling your story through creative expression - such as painting, writing, talking to others and moving your story toward a growthful and meaningful perspective. The way you talk about yourself and your life experiences is important and does effect your whole sense of self and place.

I invite you to consider giving yourself this opportunity to realise your own gifts from adversity.

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© 2015-2029 by Simonette Vaja Principal Psychologist www.simonettevaja.space    www.simonettevaja.com www.retreatscreative.com instagram@simvaja  youtube.com/simonettevaja  Hub for Soulful Ecologists Sydney  NSW Australia