Andrew Barnes Retreats: Trauma Statement

Many people ask if the retreats are for healing their complex trauma. This statement serves to provide an overview of what’s needed for healing complex trauma and what is realistically within the retreats’ scope of support.

The type of healing required for resolving complex trauma is extensive and is outside the scope, purpose and timeframe of these personal and spiritual development retreats. Qualified trauma therapists require highly specialised education and skills to offer support to people seeking complex trauma healing. Also, it needs to be undertaken within an environment specifically designed for this purpose.

Trauma-informed care definition: Being informed and sensitive about people who have experienced trauma and able to adapt modalities and services to ensure the participant isn’t re-traumatised.

All facilitators and assistants at the retreats, however, are trained in trauma-informed care and consent, meaning they know how to:

Identify what trauma is neurologically
Recognise the signs and symptoms of trauma
Identify when a participant is experiencing a traumatic response
Support participants to create safety and to self-care appropriately
Support participants to expand their agency and choice
Instruct participants in how to request support when necessary
Actively avoid re-traumatisation
Understand intersectionality and identity development
Ensure participants know they can set the pace, say stop or no and take breaks as required during the retreats
Understand the impact of how trauma can affect decision-making, boundary formulation and consent

Note: For anyone wanting to learn more, detailed education about trauma and being a trauma-informed practitioner is covered in Andrew’s online courses named Polyvagal Theory for Practitioners and Trauma-informed Care and Consent.

All the retreats are fundamentally participant-centred, which can support an extensive range of experiences. This is because participants maintain agency and choice, and the facilitators and assistants maintain clear communication and receive feedback from participants during the retreats. This combination provides an environment for participants to create safety, agency and choice for themselves.

Worldwide, awareness of the term trauma has been steadily increasing over the last decade. The definition has widened to such a degree that at times it can create miscommunications not just among the general public, but also among healthcare practitioners. The type of trauma referred to here is when there has been a neurological adaption as a survival response to an overwhelming event/s that has shifted the person’s worldview.

All the retreats may be supportive for individuals who have had a broad range of experiences, some of which at times, people may call trauma. The role of trauma-informed facilitators and assistants isn’t to specifically treat participants’ complex traumas but to appropriately provide and adapt their modalities and services while ensuring they don’t re-traumatise participants. 
All the retreats are facilitated somatically, with an emphasis on experiences, bodywork, practices, dance, movement, meditation and participants exploring and embodying their erotic sense of self in a safe, respectful and healthy way. A central methodology used in sections of the retreats is to explore through giving and receiving the techniques and practices with other participants (this is an option). Somatic participant-centred retreats involving giving and receiving with other participants as part of the core experience and methodology isn’t an effective environment in which to resolve personal trauma.

Anyone wanting to participate in any of these retreats should first seek appropriate support for any complex trauma they may have experienced. It’s recommended only then to register for the retreats once they can self-care appropriately and create enough safety and agency for themselves, even when exposed to events that may have in the past triggered them into overwhelm.

The facilitators are, however, experienced in supporting people experiencing emotional trauma and overwhelm, and the participant-centred retreats emphasise embodiment and exploring how to self-care appropriately, as well as how to create safety and increase agency and choice. Rest assured; participants will be held in a supported environment should anything arise unexpectedly.