Natalie Engelbrecht MSc, ND is a naturopathic doctor and psychotherapist. Her practice provides each patient with a treatment plan tailored to their individual needs.
She has a special interest in the treatment of traumatic experience. There are a variety of causes for trauma that may include, neglect, childhood physical or sexual abuse, war exposure, first responder trauma, sexual assault, severe physical injury, and domestic or community violence. In the aftermath of trauma, the symptoms and difficulties each person has, reflects how they adapted to survive circumstances beyond their control.
Symptoms that trauma has been known to cause include gastrointestinal disorders, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular problems. In this treatment, the survival strategies a patient has developed over the years are respected and understood, while at the same time helping the person learn self-regulating techniques and process the traumatic experiences.
Unfortunately time does not heal all wounds, with studies indicating trauma memories remain unprocessed and encoded in the brain in their original form, producing constant distress, numbing etc., that makes daily life challenging and often painful.
Due to trauma's complexity, its victims may not appreciate their individual strength and agency. Therapy strives to redress this. A balanced programme of treatment needs to address physical as well as mental and emotional healing. Positive changes in diet and lifestyle that can help nourish the brain and help with mood swings are part of the process as well.
Whether providing psychotherapy or consultation and training, Natalie Engelbrecht MSc, ND integrates a number of different modalities: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Eye Movement Desentization and Reprocessing, Emotionaly Focused Therapy, Mindfulness, Psychotherapy and Naturopathic .
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Mindfulness Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: Couples
Seminar Programs and Workshops
We don’t survive trauma as a result of conscious decision-making. At the moment of life threat, humans automatically rely upon survival instincts. Our five senses pick up the signs of imminent danger, causing the brain to “turn on” the adrenaline stress response system. As we prepare to fight or flee, heart rate and respiration speed oxygen to muscle tissue, and the “thinking brain,” our frontal cortex, is inhibited to increase response time. We are in “survival mode,” in our “animal brains.” Later, we may pay a price for these instinctive responses: we have ‘made it’ without bearing witness to our own experience.
As the price for survival, then, we are left with an inadequate record of what happened and how we endured it. If we have adequate support and safety afterward, we may be left shaken, but the events will feel “behind” us. If the events have been recurrent or we are young and vulnerable or have inadequate support, we can be left with a host of intense responses and symptoms that “tell the story” without words and without the knowledge that we are remembering events and feelings from long ago. Worse yet, the survival response system may become chronically activated, resulting in long-term feelings of alarm and danger, tendencies to flee or fight under stress, debilitating feelings of vulnerability and exhaustion, or an inability to assert and protect ourselves. To make the challenge even greater, therapeutic approaches that emphasize talking about the events often result in more, not less, activation of trauma responses and symptoms.
Since the 1980s and ‘90s, newer treatment paradigms have developed that more directly impact the somatic and emotional legacy of trauma. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, developed by Pat Ogden, PhD, directly addresses the effects of trauma on the nervous system and body without the need to use touch. Easily integrated into traditional talk therapies, Sensorimotor utilizes mindfulness techniques to facilitate resolution of trauma-related body responses first before attempting to re-work emotional responses and meaning-making. Clients report an appreciation of its gentle and empowering interventions and find it equally or more effective than either narrative approaches. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), developed in the 1980s by Francine Shapiro, is today one of the most popular and well-researched methods of trauma treatment. Like Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, EMDR does not focus on narrative recall but on reprocessing key elements of traumatic events, i.e, the legacy. This assumption of inherent multiplicity is helpful to trauma survivors baffled by the paradoxical symptoms with which they struggle, while its mindful pace creates a feeling of safety for the client."
~ Janina Fisher
Articles about Sensorimotor Treatment by Janina Fischer
- “Putting the Pieces Together: 25 Years of Learning Trauma Treatment” | Download PDF
Published in Psychotherapy Networker, May/June 2014.
- “The Treatment of Structural Dissociation in Chronically Traumatized Patients” | Download PDF
Published in In Anstorp & Benum (2014). Trauma treatment in practice: complex trauma and dissociation. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
- “Sensorimotor Approaches to Trauma Treatment” | Download PDF
Published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, July 2011.
- “Attachment as a Sensorimotor Experience” | Download PDF
Published in Attachement: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, July, 2011.
- “Retraining the Brain: Harnessing Our Neuralplasticity” | Download PDF
Published in the Psychotherapy Networker, March, 2011.
- “Brain to Brain: The Therapist as Neurobiological Regulator” | Download PDF
Published in the Psychotherapy Networker, January, 2010.
- “Working with the Neurobiological Legacy of Trauma” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Addictions and Trauma Recovery” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Stabilization in the Treatment of Trauma” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Self-harm and Suicidality” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Dissociative Phenomena in the Everyday Lives of Trauma Survivors” | Download PDF
- “Adapting EMDR Techniques in the Treatment of Dissociative or Dysregulated Clients” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Modified EMDR Resource Development Protocol” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF