We recently connected with Laura Walton and have shared our conversation below.
Laura, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Is there a heartwarming story from your career that you look back on?
Recently I have been shifting the focus of my work to be more intensive, holistic healing therapy experiences. I have been a little nervous and hesitant to make this change, as it is very different than what we think of as the “typical therapy model”. I did a trial run of an intensive session (6 hours) with one client who had experienced a horrible, unthinkable trauma that was paralyzing their life. The client later gave me feedback that “what we worked through has made a complete difference in my life…I can experience [life]…not just as a traumatized person. I feel lighter and…there has been a clear and present mental shift, and I’ve been much more productive and clear in my day-to-day. I can’t thank you enough for putting the time and effort into me. It feels so good to breathe a little easier and to be out of my harmful thinking patterns”. This really helped to solidify for me the need for and the hugely impactful healing outcome that these intensive sessions can have.
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 am a mental health therapist who specializes in working with trauma, both recent event and childhood relational or developmental trauma.
I have experienced a few very significant losses in my life, and those experiences have been the catalysts for my becoming a mental health therapist. I had a lot of difficulty in finding good grief therapy after my then-boyfriend died of a heroin overdose in 2007 and my dad committed suicide in 2001. I felt as if any of the therapists I encountered were viewing my grief as a problem to be fixed, which it was not. I became a therapist because I believed that we as a society could do better to support the brokenhearted. I was specifically interested in and passionate about working with grief and trauma.
I completed grad school in 2012, and in my early career, I worked with some of the most traumatized populations – families involved with DCS, juveniles on probation, and adults and juveniles incarcerated in Arizona jails and prisons. I learned a lot about trauma, and how it relates to people and myself. I learned that I have experienced a lot of trauma myself, and I learned how to recognize the ways in which that trauma shows up in my current life. One thing that might set me apart from other therapists is that I walk the walk – I understand trauma deeply from both a personal and a professional level, and I understand how trauma affects our brains and nervous systems.
In 2018 I left the agency setting and opened my own private practice. My most recent endeavor has been to redesign the way that I do therapy. I am currently working on creating intensive therapy experiences for clients that include the whole body in healing, because trauma affects the whole body. This is another thing that sets me apart from other therapists – I will be offering deeper, more intensive sessions that create significant change in a more sustainable and systemic manner than the typical 50 minute therapy session.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
Both my upbringing and my training in grad school taught me the lesson that I had to be everything for everybody. I believed I had to be available for and willing to meet everyone’s needs. I have had to put a lot of hard work into unlearning this lesson, because I have learned the hard way that this is impossible. From a professional standpoint, I am not an expert in every possible thing that might bring someone to therapy, and I have learned that is ok. I know what I am an expert in, and I now know how to honor that and say no to things that don’t fit me, and I am better for it.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
I have had a lot of tremendous heartbreak in my life. I grew up as an overweight child who was bullied and made fun of by my peers. I had a dad with an undiagnosed mental illness, who was inconsistent in the way he could show up for me. After many years of threatening suicide, my dad committed suicide when I was 21. My then-boyfriend, best friend, and first love died of a heroin overdose when I was 26. And more recently, I have gone through many years of infertility treatments and challenges in getting and staying pregnant. Instead of getting sucked into the heaviness of these challenges, I use them to educate myself, to learn more about myself, about people, and about how to heal.