Therapeutic Approach

Understanding the Impacts of Trauma

Shivani believes that trauma often underlies the majority of mental health presentations, including anxiety, panic, depression, and addiction, as well as relationship issues and some physical health problems. She believes our brains, bodies, and nervous systems are wired for survival and connection, and therefore symptoms are not an indication of something wrong with a person, but rather result from adapting and responding to stressful situations. 

Trauma can result from any stressful experience that is inescapable, that overwhelms our current resources,  or that leaves us feeling immobilized, trapped, humiliated, ashamed, worthless, or helpless. Trauma can result from a one-time event, or from experiences that occurred and accumulated over many years. Shivani defines a traumatic experience not by the type of event that occurred, but by the lasting impacts those experiences had on a person's overall functioning.


The legacy of trauma can present in many ways, including chronic dysregulation of the nervous system, feeling shut down or numb, anxiety and panic, angry or hostile voices in your head, substance use, avoidance, fears of emotions or memories, flashbacks, fears of intimacy, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, feeling disconnected from your body, feelings of unworthiness and shame, and a fragmented sense of self.  

What Shivani Treats


  • Childhood Developmental & Complex Trauma including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; growing up with parents with mental illness or addiction; insecure or disorganized attachment. 

  • Shock Traumas including MVA's, physical or sexual assault, accidents, sudden loss of a loved one, medical trauma, near-death experiences, childbirth trauma, and miscarriage. 

  • Anxiety and Panic 

  • Depression  

  • Grief and Loss 

  • Dissociative Disorders

  • Addictive Behvaiours

More than Just Talk Therapy

While it is important for Shivani to understand your history and for you to feel seen, heard, and understood, talk-therapy alone is not effective in resolving trauma. Telling and re-telling the details of traumatic experiences is not required for healing and may even be counterproductive. This is why Shivani uses approaches that go beyond talk therapy and work with the body, brain, and nervous system to treat the underlying trauma at its root.


What to Expect

You will be invited to be curious about your experience in the present moment by bringing mindful awareness to your sensations, feelings, and breath. You will learn self-regulation skills to manage stress, anxiety, and big emotions. During the initial stage of therapy, your history of significant life events will be taken, your attachment relationships with your caregivers will be discussed, and you will complete some assessment questionnaires. Together a collaborative treatment plan will be developed to address your symptoms and meet your unique goals.


Therapeutic Approaches

Shivani strives to work from a trauma-informed, feminist, LGBTQ+ affirmative, anti-racist lens, and to create a brave therapeutic space where all people feel welcome, respected and seen. She uses Somatic Experiencing, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy, and Inner Child Reparenting to treat underlying trauma. 


Somatic Experiencing is a body-centered therapy that uses mindful awareness to elicit your nervous system's self-healing capacity. 


EMDR uses bilateral stimulation through eye movements, tapping, or holding hand buzzers to stimulate your brain's innate ability to process traumatic memories and transform maladaptive negative beliefs into more positive, adaptive information. 


Inner Child Reparenting is Shivani's way of integrating various approaches, including the theory of structural dissociation, ego-state therapy, Internal Family Systems, and EMDR that works with wounded and protective parts of the self to address triggers and reactions, to strengthen the Adult Self, to repair attachment wounds, and to facilitate inner harmony. For those with complex/developmental trauma, inner child work is often essential in preparation for receiving standard EMDR therapy.

© 2020 by Shivani Wells-Shaw