Heather Monroe, LCSW

Heather is an integrative psychotherapist who specializes in the healing of relational trauma. Through her extensive training and work in clinical and experiential modalities Heather guides clients through a holistic and transformative process. Heather’s approach to helping people is creative, open and flexible as she understands that just as the context of trauma is individual so is the process of healing. Heather is a certified Kundalini yoga teacher as well as a student of Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing training both of which have given her a deep understanding of the body and how trauma is held in and released through it. 

After completing her masters in Social Work from Hunter College in NYC, Heather moved to Denver, CO where she worked as a therapist at CEDAR (Center for Dependency and Rehabilitation) at UCH. She went on to co-found and be clinical director of an Intensive Outpatient Program that focused on treating trauma from a holistic perspective combining different healing modalities to address the mind, body and spirit of each individual. During that time she also maintained a private practice. She returned to New York and turned her focus to prevention work as Director of Family Services at Partnership for Drug Free Kids until 2016 when she became the Director of Program Development for Newport Healthcare, a series of healing centers for adolescents and young adults struggling with trauma and mental health. Heather is still an active consultant and Senior Clinician at Newport Healthcare where she lends her expertise around program development while maintaining a private practice in Nashville, TN where she lives with her husband and two children. Heather believes through her extensive experience in the field that trauma is the underpinning of almost all mental, cultural, societal and global health disorders and her life’s purpose is to help people dismantle their own, so that they can decide who they want to be and the type of world they want to create.

Heather has completed the following trainings associated with the Mind, the Body and the Spirit:

Mind
  • Master of Social Work with a specialization in mental health
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Training with Marsha Linehan
  • Attachment Based Family Therapy
  • Mindsight with Daniel Siegel
Body
  • Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing
  • Pia Mellody’s Post Induction Therapy
  • Psychodrama with Karen Drucker 
  • Continued psychodrama supervision and training group with Tian Dayton, PhD
Spirit
  • Certified Kundalini yoga teacher

So, what is Relational Trauma? 

Relational trauma typically occurs in childhood and can even be perceived as “normal” behavior. The most common form of relational trauma is a consistent disruption in a child’s sense of love and safety in the family system. It is through these disruptions, and reinforced through cultural and societal norms, that destructive patterns and self beliefs are born. When left unattended, these perceptions give way to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, codependency, attachment disorders, self harm, eating disorders, personality disorders and so many other mental and physical health issues.

Relational trauma can be obvious like:
  • There is physical neglect and abandonment i.e. going without food and/or water, poor hygiene and/or being left alone for long periods of time.
  • There is physical, sexual or emotional abuse 
  • Caregiver has a terminal illness 
  • There is domestic violence 
  • Divorce
  • Caregiver(s) has a substance use disorder
While overt trauma can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD, covert trauma just like overt trauma can also lead to mental health issues, adverse relationships, personality disorders and physical disease. More subtle examples of relational trauma look like:
  • One or more caregiver(s) is physically not around much of the time and when they are, there is a lack of emotional or mental availability for the child
  • Caregiver(s) suffers from mental distress such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, Eating Disorder and is unable to tend to the emotional needs of their child 
  • Caregiver(s) has unprocessed generational trauma which is then unconsciously passed on to the child
  • Caregiver(s) treats child more like an equal or a friend, overshares their life struggles with them, leans on child for emotional support 
  • Caregiver(s) has poor boundaries and is either overly contained (rigid, anxious) or uncontained (explosive)
  • Caregiver(s) treats the child like a surrogate partner looking to the child for comfort, support and intimacy and/or they objectify the child’s body and physical appearance in a way that sexualizes them. 
  • Caregiver(s) uses psychological control in order to get child to behave the way they want them to like withholding love and affection, shaming the child, making the child feel guilty, denying the child’s reality or invalidating their feelings
  • Caregiver(s) is domineering and controlling which disempowers the child and their ability to think for themselves and become who they truly are especially if that means disappointing the domineering parent.