Living Breathing Medicine Podcast

Delivering Trauma-Informed Care with Psychotherapist Robyn Brickel

On episode five of the Living Breathing Medicine podcast, Dr. Natasha Beauvais and Dr. Cecily Havert chat with Robyn Brickel, psychotherapist and owner/clinical director of Brickel and Associates in Alexandria, Virginia. What is trauma-informed care? What would a “bottom-up” approach to treating trauma look like? And what happens when trauma triggers physical symptoms? Together, they further explore the mind-body connection and the importance of creating a safe environment when it comes to delivering quality care.

Event Highlights:

  • 0:09 – 2:07 – Dr. Cecily Havert begins the episode by introducing their guest, Robyn Brickel. Robyn is a licensed marriage and family therapist who runs her own successful practice in Virginia and has delivered the highest level of care to clients for over 20 years. Dr. Havert then introduces the topic, trauma-informed care.
  • 2:16 – 5:36 – Robyn starts the conversation by explaining the types of work she does in therapy that are most important and explains the concept of trauma-informed care.
  • 5:40 – 10:00 – “I think the biggest piece for trauma therapy is what Judith Herman coined the three-stage trauma model way back when. And really, it’s about establishing safety and stabilization first and foremost.”
  • 10:05 – 13:58 – As Dr. Havert states – “Trauma therapy is not just for people who have had big trauma events.” Robyn discusses how using trauma-informed care can be helpful for people suffering from anxiety, depression, and other “unnamed” trauma.
  • 14:07 – 19:17 – “When you experience something, what do you notice on the inside of you that is happening? What do you think about it? How are you going to change how you view it?” Robyn discusses what is called “bottom-up therapy.”
  • 19:53 – 22:50 – Robyn, Dr. Havert, and Dr. Beauvais discuss the importance of learning to trust your body again, and understanding where your symptoms are coming from.
  • 22:53 – 29:53 – “I just love this when you said that trauma is the residue left from the experience. I’ve never thought about trauma in that way. A lot of times you think of the event, but it really is, it’s the event, but then it’s the aftermath that you’re really dealing with. I think that’s interesting.” Dr. Havert, Dr. Beauvais, and Robyn talk about levels of disassociation.
  • 30:12 – 35:50 – How do you approach patients who have “accepted” their chronic anxiety or chronic depression? The panel discusses how compassion and empathy can help the patient-therapist relationship, and how physicians often take a similar approach.
  • 35:52 – 41:16 – Dr. Beauvais asks Robyn – “Can you talk us through a little bit about just how to guide someone to observe their body? What do you notice when that happens?”
  • 41:42 – 42:06 – The episode ends with Dr. Beauvais and Dr. Havert thanking Robyn for her time and their great relationship.


Living Breathing Medicine is a podcast from Northern Virginia Family Practice. Find us on Facebook and LinkedIn, and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. You can also nominate health care providers for future interviews here.

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