Release Your Trauma, Discover Your Passion with Empowerment Coach Judi Vitale
By Sven Hosford | Photograph from Anita Buzzy
There are two axioms I learned in the Navy that came to mind while interviewing Judi Vitale: “Every job is easy if you have the right tool” and “Use every tool in the toolbox.” On first impression, she fully embodies both, easily discussing the many modalities at her fingertips. She calls herself an Empowerment Coach, and she is obviously a dynamic healer with an ever-growing set of tools in her toolbox.
On second impression, it’s clear that her grit, spunk, and firm sense of boundaries are what make her an exceptional healer. She has that look-you-in-the-eye presence of a woman very comfortable in her own skin.
This self-assuredness in herself and her craft is not by accident. She’s done the work. And she continues to do the work every day. Her advice for other healers is “to wake up every morning and leave time for yourself. I don’t even look at my phone until I’ve sat with myself and asked, ‘Where am I today?’ Then, prioritize what you need to do to take care of yourself. The first thing is that if you don’t have integrity of your wholeness, you can’t help anybody.”
After 35 years as a healer, she also understands that boundaries are vital. Taking on your client’s problems will not help them any. “You have to stay detached, and that’s something that many people who go into the business of helping others don’t get,” she says. “You have to keep that distance. You need to be comfortable with that.”
People come to Vitale when they are stuck somewhere in their lives. Whether they feel disempowered by their job, spouse, parents, or children, her goal is to connect these clients with their passion and purpose. “With so many people, it’s their main problem. Depression and alienation come from being separated from our passion and purpose.”
The first step is to find the unprocessed trauma. Vitale says that when traumas are too overwhelming, especially for children, the unprocessed trauma stays stored in our body. “Physical ailments almost always have an emotional root or cause,” she says. “And it is frequently unprocessed trauma. Almost everyone has some form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”
“Whenever we’ve been frightened by something — and we’ve all be frightened by something —you get this… (she shakes her hands next to her head like someone crazy with fright). Those are chemicals being secreted by your brain, and the chemicals are coursing all through your body and getting caught in different parts of your body. It’s toxification, it’s stiffening. You might hold something (she locks her arm and fist) because you want to hold on to something to feel secure. There are all these things.”
Vitale explains that the other complication with stored trauma is that it has no time stamp. “As long as it’s unprocessed, it is always happening right now,” she says. “Our fight, flight, or freeze system is always on, which prevents further processing and keeps the trauma in the present tense. Many people get frozen at an age when they have the trauma and they never come out of that age.”
Learning the Tools
While she has many tools, there is one thing Vitale cannot provide to her clients. “They must have the courage to go back and deal with it. I can’t wave a wand. They have to do the work.” The individualized experience starts with transpersonal coaching, allowing Vitale to get a full view of her clients’ lives before giving them options. Vitale is currently working on her master’s degree in transpersonal psychology, which, she says, focuses the person’s spiritual experience. “So while you are dealing with things that are mental or psychological, when you add the spiritual component, you can bring those things together.”
Another one of her tools is hypnotherapy. “With hypnotherapy, we actually physically let it out,” she says. “We scream, we yell, we hit. I hand people a rubber hose so they can whale on some cushions while they scream and yell. Get it out, say what you couldn’t say then.”
Some might think expressing anger is not a “spiritual” way to be or heal. To that, Vitale says, “There’s a thing called spiritual bypass that people go through. They don’t experience what it is to be human because they think it’s dirty. I think most times it’s because the person finds it scary to deal with the trauma. They don’t want to get in there and have that emotion. Being spiritual does not preclude experiencing and expressing our emotions.”
“We might also use astrology as an assessment tool,” she said, claiming it to be far more precise than the standard psychological tests like Myers-Briggs. “It’s just so vast and so intricate, and really demonstrates how everyone is very much an individual.” It also spotlights choices one can make that aren’t obvious till she sees the chart. She calls it “an x-ray of the soul.”
Other tools she might use include EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming), which has proven to be very effective in treating PTSD. She also recently became a certified yoga teacher, as the practice is a wonderful way to bring the mind and body together.
Working the Tools
Although Vitale has many tools at her disposal, she emphasizes that she can provide them but the client has to do the work. “I can help them heal their past, their trauma,” she says. “Notice I say ‘help them heal.’ I don’t heal them. I facilitate that process for them. Lots of times, you go to somebody and they say ‘I have all of your answers!’ Well, I don’t. What I do have are the tools to help you pull them out. So you get to empower yourself to get the answers to all your issues and problems.”
Learn the tools, then do the work.
Well-received advice from someone who has obviously done both.