Awaken from your past, release yourself from limiting beliefs and begin a journey toward the happy and healthy life you deserve. The path of healing and self-acceptance can be difficult and painful, but you are not alone. Tricia Veltri, the owner of Core Level Healing Therapy, gets you, and she also gets that taking control of one’s inner world requires a commitment to change and a willingness to work. Veltri holds a master’s degree in counselling, is a registered psychotherapist and certified EMDR practitioner, and she is here to get you beyond your barriers to better relationships—starting with the one you have with yourself.
Veltri specializes in the struggles that keep women imprisoned within—trauma, anxiety, stress and relationship challenges—and treats her clients the way she would want to be treated: “keep it real” to help you heal. For Veltri, it’s not about meditating on a mountaintop. It’s about fully and skillfully engaging those who are ready to go to the core, root out old patterns and form new habits. Veltri understands this process on a professional level and on a personal one: she has walked her own road to recovery and reclamation.
Tell me a bit about your story. What brought you to your work, and what has your personal journey taught you about the needs of the heart and psyche?
My story began when I was little girl. I was a highly sensitive, empathic child, and due to life circumstances I was very shy, withdrawn and felt like I didn’t belong. And I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up, so I feel like this career path found me. When I was young, I never believed I had any special talents, but the one thing I noticed was that people were drawn to me. I would often have random strangers telling me deep and personal things about themselves. I could connect with people.
Thirteen years ago, I was working at a soul-sucking job. A friend and I decided to visit a psychic for fun, as I had never done that before. I did not have high expectations, but she said something profound that changed my life and guided me to the path of where I am today. She told me that I was unhappy because I was not living my purpose. I was a bit dumbfounded and asked her to please explain what my purpose was. She kept repeating these words: “You know, you know.” I remember getting frustrated and telling her that I obviously did not know and to please tell me, and in a quiet voice she continued: “Counselling.” It sent chills down my spine. I had always had a dream to be a counsellor and thought about pursuing it many times, but I always told myself I wasn’t good enough.
That incident made me realize that I had been hiding behind my story of “I’m not good enough” for long enough, and I decided to take the leap and study to become a counsellor, and the rest is history. Along the way I discovered that the only way to help heal others’ traumas was to heal myself first.
I have learned that humans have five things in common: we want to be heard, we want to be seen, we want to belong, we want to be loved, and we want to feel safe. Everyone has their own personal trauma stories, and the way to finding peace and happiness is to look at the aspects of ourselves that we hide, deny or shame, and bring them to light and love ourselves despite them. Healing ourselves is a journey, not a destination. I am not perfect by any means, but it is a path I am committed to for the rest of my time here on Earth.
It strikes me that hiding is a common human condition. How and how often have you seen people adhering to their old stories, unaware of the unhealthy patterns they’re creating?
It’s a tale as old as time. Again and again my clients tell me ‘I’m not good enough. I’m not lovable. I’m not worthy. I’m not in control. I’m permanently damaged.’ The list goes on and on. Trauma has a way of fundamentally changing our stories of how we view ourselves and the world. For example, someone can go from believing the world is safe place to believing the world is an unsafe place in an instant.
A lot of people repress the negative emotions and memories of trauma they have experienced and tuck them away deep inside the subconscious. I often use the analogy of hiding dead bodies in the basement. As with real dead bodies in a basement, the nasty fumes eventually begin to spread up and throughout the rest of house. The fumes come in the form of self-defeating behaviours, mental illness and physical illness: addictions, co-dependency, people pleasing, dissociating, anger, busyness, isolation, anxiety, depression, somatic pain disorders, autoimmune disorders, et cetera. Only when we deal with those “bodies” in the basement will those nasty odours go away.
Relationships can be roller-coasters; wonderful but woeful, life-affirming but hurtful, empowering but heartbreaking! How we find the right ride for ourselves?
Most of us did not have a course on relationships in school, although we should! We learned how to do relationships by observing those of our family. We learned from our parents, who learned from their parents, and so on. Therefore, a lot of how we deal with major issues in a relationship, such as communication, conflict, intimacy, finances and gender roles, were inherited from the way our family dealt with these issues.
Many of us have inherited some emotional wounding patterns from our families. As a result, we tend to attract relationship partners who wound us in the same way as the parent who wounded us the most. For example, if someone had an absent father, they may continue to attract partners who are emotionally unavailable and distant.
The way to break this repeating compulsion cycle is to go back and work through the feelings and emotions of the old trauma and learn new, healthy relationship patterns.
Your description of relived trauma as a “living nightmare” is a powerful one. Why is EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) even more powerful at breaking the spell of the past?
This is a very simplified version, but imagine our brain as a big filing system. When we have regular experiences, our brain files them away in long-term memory. However, when we have a traumatic experience, it is so charged with intense emotions, it’s as though the memory file it too big to be filed away, so it just sits in our inbox, our working memory.
This incorrect storage can lead to memories feeling like they are happening in the present moment, when related or unrelated triggers cause us to react as they did at the time of trauma. EMDR therapy corrects this mis-storage so that the painful memories associated with the trauma lose their charge. We can now react to stimuli in the present without the past interfering.
And when we can heal from the past, we can create new stories, with new a belief system associated with the traumatic memory. That is powerful.
I think it’s safe to say that this past 15 months have been challenging for most of us in many ways and to varying degrees. What particular trend have you observed?
I think the pandemic has affected all of us in various ways, and I have never been busier as a therapist supporting my clients. The trend that I have observed is that it is not COVID itself that people find stressful, but it is the unresolved trauma and issues that this pandemic has brought up for them. I believe that the pandemic has caused us to slow down, and we are not used to that. We are so used to being busy all the time that most people do not have time to sit with their emotions and feelings. For better or for worse, COVID has given people the opportunity to deal with traumas, beliefs and behaviours they have tried to suppress for years.
Share something about yourself that most wouldn’t know—a fun fact, an interesting perspective or an engaging story.
I used to have a massive phobia of moths and would freak out every time I saw one. I could not even be in the same room as a moth. If there was one in my house, I would have to call a friend to come dispose of it for me or put on my version of a hazmat suit to get rid of it. EMDR cured my moth phobia, and I still can’t believe it! I can remember the first time seeing a moth after doing EMDR and wanting to freak out because that is what I always did, but my body was not reacting in fear anymore. I wouldn’t say that I love the ugly little creatures, but I can definitely tolerate them now.
Tricia Veltri owns Core Level Healing Therapy in Kelowna
This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays
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