Mindfulness meditation has become the mental health practice du jour, and rightfully so, given all of its benefits: greater presence, clarity and calm. But for people who have endured trauma, meditation can backfire, resulting in more rather than less suffering. Why is that? And does that mean survivors of trauma should not practice it? Is there a safe way to do so? These are some of the urgent questions addressed by my guest David A. Treleaven in his new book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing (Norton, 2018). In our interview, he explains why mindfulness practice must be adapted based on individuals’ unique trauma histories, and we discuss effective ways to do so. This episode will be relevant to those who ask themselves ‘Why doesn’t meditation work for me?’ and are interested to learn strategies for making it work.
David A. Treleaven is an educator and psychotherapist whose work focuses on the intersection of trauma, mindfulness, and social justice. Trained in counseling psychology at the University of British Colombia, he received his doctorate in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. He has been studying mindfulness for twenty years and has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also hosts the podcast, The Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness Podcast.
Eugenio Duarte, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Miami. He treats individuals and couples, with specialties in gender and sexuality, eating and body image problems, and relationship issues. He is a graduate and faculty of William Alanson White Institute in Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology in New York City and former chair of their LGBTQ Study Group; and faculty at Florida Psychoanalytic Institute in Miami. He is also a contributing author to the book Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Defining Terms and Building Bridges (2018, Routledge).
Eugenio Duarte, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Miami.