We were lucky to catch up with Alauna Curry recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alauna, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. We’d love to hear the story behind how you got your first job in field that you currently practice in.
I was drawn to psychiatry because I enjoyed exploring the circumstances behind the physical illness that was being treated. From my standpoint, I believe it’s impossible to treat the things that go wrong in the body without assessing what is going on in a person’s mind. During medical school at Baylor College of Medicine, we rotated through many different clinical settings, but I found myself particularly drawn to working with US Military Veterans because something about listening to them was helping me understand things about my own life. As the child of a Vietnam Veteran, as I explored the experience of so many people with PTSD, I was drawn to trauma treatment because it was considered treatable! While I met many men and women with some of the most extreme of traumatic experiences, I also saw many of them progress to living full, healthy and happy lives with the application of effective treatments.
In the later stages of my clinical career at the VA (c.2014), I was the lead psychiatrist for a specialty inpatient PTSD program that had the unique opportunity to provide a year’s work of the most evidence-based trauma treatments to them in about a month. From this interdisciplinary perspective, I was able to see the full integration of what was possible with trauma treatments; our patient’s made remarkable program that was often shocking to even me! Yet the challenge was to go back into the world and continue using the skills AND information they received from the program. In the thick of my academic career’s star rising as an expert in trauma and empathy, I was suddenly faced with my own challenges. In 2017, my own health suddenly failed, and I experienced the traumas of losing my medical career, dissolving my marriage and “starting over” in life!
In that space, I was listening to the patterns of thinking all around me, and hearing the same distorted and extreme patterns of thinking in my trauma patients. I began to question the limited way we’d been taught to think about traumatic experiences in our medical training. And as I listened to my friends, colleagues, even strangers, I began to recognize even in myself, the impact of this traumatized way of thinking! With intimate knowledge of how the primitive brain creates predictable patterns based off of the input of our brain systems, I realized that this new information needed to be taught. Humans have not only been poorly educated about the greatest technology on Earth (Us), we have been MIS-informed by the primitive humans who designed our current systems. We’ve been taught to think that our emotions come from the world around us, other people, God, the Devil, our heart, gut, the list goes on and on.
Due to our utter lack of understanding (even the professionals) are having “mental health issues.’ I decided to let “Dr. Curry” retire from prescribing meds, and instead lean into describing SKILLS that people can use to regulate their own biology. I go by Dr. Alauna, Trauma Psychiatrist, because I invented the field of Trauma Psychiatry. Unfortunately, right now there is a HUGE hole in understanding in the medical and mental health industry. We have yet to recognize the widespread rue prevalence of psychological trauma and it’s impact of every human being on Earth. The good news is that because all humans are of once race (homo sapien) and 99.9% genetically the same, it is EASY to explain the 7 parts of the brain that we absolutely need to know in order to understand our own mental health.
My aspiration is to trigger an Empathy Evolution, in other words, #MakeEmpathyGoViral, because it is the missing ingredient in our society. Empathy is a skill; it can be learned, practiced and applied. And it is the cure for Trauma! When we all learn to apply more empathy to a situation, it activates the highest, evolved brain (Prefrontal Cortex) to find EFFECTIVE solutions for the problems that ail us most in society. I believe that through education and information, we can heal the invisible wounds that affect all of us, individual and as a global society.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I provide trauma-informed, empathy-based education and training about mental health and psychological trauma. I explain the 6 Primitive Brain Systems that are predictably programmed by psychological trauma, AND provide tools for my students and trainees to recognize these invisible impulses in real time. My unique methodology, Empathy Skills Practice for Traumatized Humans is specifically designed to activate the Prefrontal Cortex, the most evolved part of the human brain (and the part that we use only 10-15% of at baseline!! Yikes).
I offer several ways for people to access my services, because I believe that this information should be accessible and affordable. Through my non-profit platform, the Dr. Alauna Trauma Recovery Institute, we offer an online 24/7 platform called the Trauma Recovery Academy. For only $97/mo, TRA Members receive access to Dr. Alauna’s entertaining and educational coursework, including Master Your Amygdala, Empathy Skills for Traumatized Humans and more! Included in that membership fee is access to monthly 90 minute virtual coaching groups to help learners APPLY the skills they learn in the video coursework. For those who desire to work more intimately with Dr. Alauna, the 12 week RECREATE Trauma Recovery Coaching program is designed to provide direct teaching AND Empathy Skills Practice opportunities in a virtual small group setting (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).
However, the FASTEST and most efficient way to get a jump start on your trauma recovery is to attend our 3 day live virtual educational event, The Trauma C.U.R.E. – Creators Using Radical Empathy. Occurring in February, June and October of each year, the next Trauma C.U.R.E. is October 26-28th. In this 3 day event, attendees with take a deep dive into not only redefining how they think of trauma, but also learning and using tools in real time that will improve their thoughts, actions and outcomes! Many people say “I can’t afford to take three whole days to focus on trauma.” I humbly submit that you cannot afford NOT to. Unfortunately, the limitations of our mental health system is obvious. Many people do not have insurance and/or could not afford a therapist or psychiatrist, even if they could find one they trust, and could access. The shortage of providers leaves us with not enough people to even provide appropriate trauma services to the huge number of people who need it. The missing piece is YOU! The Trauma C.U.R.E. : Creators Using Radical Empathy is the fastest way to begin the work of self healing, so that you can bring more light and life to the friends, family and communities you also want to heal. Register for The Trauma C.U.R.E. at https://thetraumacure.com
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
As I previously shared, I’ve had to pivot many times in my life and career, and 2020 – as is the case with so many of us – was a HUGE time of transition for me, as I dealt with a painful experience just prior to the onset of COVID.
In February of 2020, my then-8 year old son, badly burned himself by pulling scalding hot water out of an overhead microwave. I will never forget the horror and guilt I felt as we rushed to the ER and burn unit, as the skin on his face was quite literally, gone. We spent a scary exhausting week in the hospital and then another month or two of extensive dressing changes and challenging debridement, as he healed. It also challenged my family to come together and do what was needed to get us all through this challenge, even more difficult as COVID swept the globe.
Yet, it was a moment where I was able to apply the same Empathy Skills Practice and lessons that I teach to others every day. My pivot was to putting myself FIRST, and doing what was needed to nurture my own mental health through the subsequent “storms” I went through. I made a tremendous effort to use empathy and emotion regulations tools to demonstrate to my son and beyond, and it has allowed all of us to operate in a healthier space and extending each other more grace. In setting healthy boundaries, my pivot to focusing on my own trauma healing has allowed me to help far more people, without burning out with the weight of this work.
How’d you meet your business partner?
My business partner, Ingrid “Nicque” Montgomery of INMS Services and Collaborlove, has been an amazing addition to my team. She was in the audience at one of the first forums where I participated as a panelist, speaking about the impact of psychological trauma on the body and brain. After the event, she tracked me down and noted that despite her many years as an advocate and participant in the mental health community, she had never heard anyone break down psychological trauma the way that I had. She had many lightbulb moments as I described briefly the predictable programming that occurs in trauma, and recognized herself in that story. She subsequently became not only a diligent student and practitioner of Empathy Skills Practice, but also began to contribute her considerable public relations and creative directing experiences to get the word out about trauma. Together, we have partnered to speak, train and coach laypersons, educators, professionals and more about how to self-heal from psychological trauma through this new science-driven approach.
Nicque, pronounced “Nik-kee”, brings together people from all backgrounds to further the goal of introducing this new approach to mental health care to the world.
- Website: www.dralauna.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/dralauna
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dralauna/
- Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/dralauna
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/dralauna
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/dralauna
- Other: www.mindingyouramygdala.com
Image Credit: Alauna Curry, MD