Tom is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Aurora, CO that specializes in the treatment of trauma. Focusing on in-person and virtual trauma therapy, Tom brings over 18 years of experience in the mental health field with 13 years in therapeutic trauma work to help individuals. Along with his background in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, he is a Certified Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapist, Certified Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR) Therapist, and has had extensive trainings in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), multiple ego state and exposure therapies, as well as integrative somatic approaches.
What's your therapy philosophy?
My primary therapeutic philosophy is that the body has an intrinsic motivation to heal if it is not obstructed or malfunctioning. I think our body heals emotionally the same way we heal physically. To illustrate, let's say we accidentally cut ourselves while slicing veggies for dinner. That cut may need some immediate care to stabilize it, such as putting pressure on it, adding some first-aid cream, putting a band-aid on it, or seeking emergency attention if needed. Once stabilized, the body will naturally work to heal the physical wound. If we ignore, pick at, or neglect the injury, we increase the potential to inhibit the body's natural healing process. The exact same thing happens with mental health. Emotional wounds are common in day-to-day life, just like the potential of a papercut. However, emotional injuries can be ignored, judged, or neglected, exacerbated by the cumulative impact of negative thinking and emotional cycles. I help people find what is getting in the way of living authentically and what is inhibiting their healing, which generally takes me down the path of cognitive distortions, past and present trauma experiences, and unresolved attachment wounding. My therapeutic philosophy provides a lens to assess what inhibits the body from the natural healing it wants to do.
What do you specialize in?
I specialize in the treatment of trauma and attachment wounding in adults. Trauma and attachment wounding are inhibitors to authentic engagement in life, and the symptoms of these types of wounds are often misdiagnosed. I see trauma as very treatable and help people explore and heal from what they perceive is holding them back. I integrate EMDR, ITR, TF-CBT, and ego state therapies to resolve present and past wounding, stuck stuff, yuck, or whatever it is that is holding one back.
What are three adjectives that describe you as a therapist?
Authentic, compassionate, and focused. Trauma therapy is complex and complicated, so I find these traits most helpful.
What's one thing you feel could be better understood about therapy?
Repeated experiences impact the brain, and unprocessed traumatic experiences are stored differently than non-traumatic memories. Attachment wounding also affects how information is processed in the present day. Trauma and attachment treatment must go beyond talk therapy in order to resolve unprocessed traumatic experiences. These experiences are stored in the non-verbal, emotional parts of the brain that are not associated with words or sequential order as well as throughout the body. Therapeutic intervention must consider the impact, storage, and presentation of trauma and attachment wounding when assessing current symptoms and behaviors. Trauma-focused treatment is effective and beneficial. Once trauma or attachment wounding is identified, treatment can focus on resolving maladaptive, unprocessed traumatic material activated today.
What's a therapy tool you use yourself?
Every person I work with learns a Grounding Ritual of stopping, taking a deep breath, identifying the date, time, and location, and then repeating a grounding mantra, such as "I am safe" or "I am okay." This Grounding Ritual is beneficial in slowing down the system and reactivating the brain's time orientation, which goes offline when we are emotionally activated. The Grounding Ritual can build mindful moments throughout the day, especially when one needs to remind oneself to slow down.
What's one thing you might share to someone who has never been to therapy?
It is okay to be scared, it is okay to be unsure, and it is okay not to know what direction you want or need to go. Healing from the hurt from the past is possible, and nothing is too small or insignificant. You deserve healing. You do not need to know how you will heal (this is what therapy is for), but you need to know that it is possible to heal. The main challenge in our healing journey is to accept the struggle rather than judge ourselves for struggling.
What's a common misconception about therapy?
I am going to take this opportunity to talk about two of them!
The first big misconception about trauma therapy is that you need to tell your trauma therapist everything, all at once and right away. Most trauma therapists will recommend against this as it can be overwhelming, activating, and even retraumatizing. The initial focus of trauma treatment is stability and safety in the here-and-now, which gives us the foundation to build effective trauma treatment and explore the past safely.
The second misconception is that being a therapist means you need to be perfect, and getting therapy as a therapist is a bad thing. This is a bunch of nonsense! The best thing a therapist can do for their practice, family, and life is to get their own therapist and work out any unresolved stuff in their life! This unfinished stuff will impact our ability to engage our clients authentically. Moreover, unresolved past and present stuff mean we are more susceptible to burnout!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I could probably talk about this stuff for a while! I appreciate the questions and getting to explore some important headlines about being a therapist. My final thought is to encourage everyone to think about or learn about the significant impact that trauma and attachment wounding have on people and how their effects are impacted by present-day emotional hygiene habits, engagement in emotional management skills, one's relationship with technology, and the real-world traumatic events. In the end, trauma is treatable, and we all have the capacity to learn and grow.
To contact Tom Hill, LPC:
Website: hilltoptherapysolutions.com E-mail: email@example.com
Random Resources to Explore:
Tom's Favorite Ted Talks & Emotional Hygiene Article https://www.hilltoptherapysolutions.com/resources.html
For EMDR Therapists, check out the EMDR Learning Community: https://emdr-learning.com
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
The Post Traumatic Stress Sourcebook by Glenn R. Schiraldi
Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence by Judith Lewis Herman
The Instinctual Trauma Response And Dual-Brain Dynamics by Louis Tinnin and Linda Gantt
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, Third Edition: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures by Francine Shapiro
Recommended Video: SBNI Lunch Lecture Series - The Neurobiology of PTSD – Paul Erickson, MD