At the tender age of 25—vibrant with hope—Shawn LaRé probably felt the world was her queendom. Previously a beauty pageant winner, with anyone who was able, fawning at her “beauty queen” feet. On an, otherwise ordinary morning, facing a day training young dancer, Shawn LaRe’ exited a cab, while her students waited, unaware that outside the building their beloved teacher was being dragged along the asphalt as if she were nothing more than a tattered rag doll. Delusions of gratuity evasion enraged her taxi driver, who then drug her limber body down the street with his car until she lost consciousness with a broken appendage. Traumatic incidents that affect American children, men, and women every day such as this, along with national and global plight, are never more significant to help us appreciate professionals that work tirelessly in the mental health care arena than today; when at the end of May, the nation concludes its 70th observance of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Calamities strike at no predictive hour and often without rationale. Seventy percent of Americans have or will have at least one confrontation with a traumatic event. “I help my patients develop effective coping skills,” Shawn LaRé said in a recent interview. “I don’t think a person who has experienced trauma is ever completely free of the trauma because it is always there; lurking under the surface, however, it is possible to learn to navigate the murky and tumultuous waves that come and go with the tides.”
Across the globe, people come face-to-face with adverse situations that affect them in many ways. Brinkley works with trauma victims daily. Her company, Living Loved Pathways to Holistic Healing bears a name that reads just as strong as a powerful affirmation as it does a name. , Living Loved Pathways to Holistic Healing has been a treatment solution for families as well as those affected by traumatic events since 2012.
Shawn LaRé kneels and crouches with her clients in the long, narrow trenches of their recovery and tackles trauma; including an area that is overlooked and underrated, “vicarious trauma” a pervasive undercurrent within U.S. families, and societies. It is this second-hand trauma that echoes through halls of schools following a school shooting or reverberating in living rooms after families witness footage of terrorist attacks and bellowing through cityscapes and suburbia in the towns hit with a natural disaster.
Experiencing trauma as a young adult, Shawn LaRé Brinkley couldn’t have known of the lives she would touch today. Could it be her journey through recovery following that atrocious event with the taxi driver poised her for the quintessential empathy she uses today in her therapy practice? “After the cab incident, I was in the hospital for months and I gained 100 pounds.” Imagine the trauma Shawn LaRe’ had to work through emotionally, previously being 100 pounds smaller and able to move with ease and grace to dealing with chronic pain. Brinkley has strengthened the hope paralyzed in girls rescued from sex trafficking and numerous young, and grown adults held hostage emotionally by the horror of a bad experiences that can be as simple as a breakup, downsize, or parents divorcing.
Trauma is a specialty of Shawn LaRé, but it is not the whole of her practice. While admirers call her the “kid whisperer,” with her impeccable ability to connect to children, she also values strength in the family structure. Shawn LaRé feels the home foundation shapes the adults the children become. Further enforcing her value placement on family, her therapy is unique, she does her therapy out of a house—with plans to start counseling families over dinner. Creating an environment that is warm and homey helps her clients be themselves. In a spacious house with high ceilings and plenty of natural light coming from the sliding glass doors and windows all around, Shawn LaRé’ helps her patients relax and feel at home.
Shawn LaRé uses an integrative method of therapy that combines traditional treatment techniques, like talk and cognitive behavioral therapies, with nontraditional modalities, such as music, movement, and art therapy. She finds this approach is most effective in her practice because often the clients do not know how to express what they are feeling. It’s important for her to help her patients find their voice and identity and accept themselves. Shawn LaRé confessed, “I’m not a registered art therapist, but I use art as a healing tool…to help the person express what they’re feeling [and] have an outlet for that trauma.”
Brinkley indicates that having a traumatic experience is not a guarantee that one will suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as she points out that 80 percent of people who experience a traumatic event also have protective factors in place to prevent the aftermath from developing into post-traumatic stress—factors, such as support systems, attachment, and resilience. Shawn LaRé understands the impact of traumatic experiences both personally and professionally. Such events can demobilize a person and linger in the memories individuals as well as in the archives of domestic and international catastrophes; which now as a result of memes, tweets, live streaming, and hashtags; reminders of these events are practically instantaneous and repetitious. Shawn LaRé’ said, “These catastrophes are disheartening and can induce reduction in daily functioning; for those who may not have been present when those incidents occurred, [now] may have a fear perhaps of going to a concert or even going to school.”
Growing up in Toledo, Ohio Brinkley recalls tornado and fire drills during childhood as a student,. However, in today’s ambiguous social climate, in lieu of a focus on arithmetic and grammar, school days for students are routinely interrupted for “active shooter” drills. It saddens Brinkley because more than bullies, she said, “these children today are faced with, will I die, will someone come into my school and kill us.”
Living Loved Pathways to Holistic Healing is a place of recovery where families can heal from trauma and overcome fear. Shawn LaRé wants women, men, girls, and boys plagued with trauma to know that there will always be triggers, but they “no longer have to operate within the limiting beliefs… created based on their distorted thought processes riddled with the trauma from their experiences.” A life altering experience can affect you more than you realize.
Shawn LaRé’ is a certified trauma recovery specialist, with a Master’s of Science in Counseling, Marriage, Family and Child Therapy, which she earned from the University of Phoenix. To add to her merit, Brinkley gained the prestigious Distinguished Alumni; Leadership Award, University of Phoenix, in 2018.
To learn more about Shawn LaRé Brinkley’s family table talks visit www.livinglovedhealing.org.