This Is A Voice

Triggers, trauma, working when you're wobbly. Dealing with emotions in the studio w/ Petra Borzynski

September 19, 2022 Jeremy Fisher & Dr Gillyanne Kayes with Petra Borzynski Season 6 Episode 3
This Is A Voice
Triggers, trauma, working when you're wobbly. Dealing with emotions in the studio w/ Petra Borzynski
Show Notes Transcript

On the day of Queen Elizabeth's funeral, Petra Borzynski, cognitive behavioural therapist & somatic vocal coach, joins Gillyanne and Jeremy for some expert wisdom on dealing with emotion.

Singing is an emotional act. And we sometimes need to sing, or to teach singing, when we're emotional. How do we deal with our own wobbles, and when should we deal with the wobbles of our singing students?

There are questions from listeners on anxiety in singing lessons - when do we hold the space for people's feelings and when do we hand over to a professional therapist.
Petra shares some of the red flags to look out for.

And how can we make our studio a safe space for people who might have experienced trauma? 
Petra's answer might surprise you.

A hugely useful episode for singing teachers, singers and performers alike on the subject of anxiety, nerves and trauma in singing.

Petra Borzynski's work is here –

https://singingsense.com

https://www.youtube.com/user/singingtuition

https://www.facebook.com/singingsense

Mental Health in the Performing Arts Studio course
https://singingsense.com/products/mental-health-in-the-performing-arts-studio/

Resources from Gillyanne and Jeremy -
This Is A Voice - 99 Exercises to Train, Project and Harness the Power of Your Voice https://amzn.to/3uSw66c

The Vocal Process Learning Lounge, with 16 years of voice training resources (over 600 videos) for less than the price of one singing lesson.
Click and scroll down the page for the free previews https://vocal-process-hub.teachable.com/p/the-vocal-technique-learning-lounge

Book a coaching session with Jeremy or Gillyanne https://DrGillyanneKayesJeremyFisherInspirationSession.as.me/ 

What can be triggering for a lot of people who have survived traumas, one sort, or the other is if they're being told what to do, because the very essence of a traumatic experience is that you had no choice, that choice has been taken away from you, that you were in a situation where there was no way out, whatever that was for you personally. And the smallest things that we maybe don't even think about twice can bring this sensation of immense helplessness and shame, and maybe even feelings of guilt back up again. So if someone feels like I'm being told to do this, and I have no choice and I maybe feel like I can't do it, but that's the person in the know, and I'm sabotaging my own session here or something. These are the thoughts that come up for people like that. This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher. Hello, and welcome to this is a voice season six episode three, the podcast where we get Vocal about voice. And we have a very special guest with us, Petra Borzynski, who is a voice coach, cognitive behavioral therapist, somatic coach, all sorts of things. I've been looking up your credentials. They're really interesting. And you have a dual career as well, which in fact, technically you have had a triple career mm-hmm, you were an environmental scientist and I love that piece of information. I've forgotten. Yes. Yes. What did you do? Um, I basically, I started studying geography. I mean, it's like, the long and winding path, so to speak because I had very low confidence as a singer, so I never really believed in my abilities. And, um, yeah, I basically thought I'll have something running in the background just to be sure that have something to fall back on. I actually, Before I went into singing and teaching singing, I was working in environmental health for while and, um, specifically in noise reduction, which I always think is sort of funny. Cause I certainly tortured enough neighbors with my singing practice and so on and so forth. It's so interesting to have a background, first of all, a background in noise reduction, which I love, but also to have a background as a singer who isn't confident given what you do now, I think that's a fantastic route through. Um, just a little bit more. You've been a keynote speaker at conferences. You've been an, you are an article writer for national magazines. Um, your qualifications are really interesting cuz you have qualifications in psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling crisis and trauma and somatic therapy. Mm-hmm mm-hmm and this is, and you are bringing that into the world of the singer and I think that's so fascinating. Mm. And actually, before we kick off, I just want to thank you for the many really meaningful social media posts you manage to do. I think it's quite an art, you know, that you will post about something and it's thoughtful. It's ins. Insightful. It's always inclusive. So listeners, if you haven't come across Petra, just look for singing sense as her Instagram handles and presumably your Facebook as well. Yes. And do you know, there's so much value just in reading those posts and, and we'll, we'll put the links onto the show notes yeah at the end so people can find you. Okay. So, um, today, just so that people know we're actually recording the day after, um, we lost Queen Elizabeth here in the UK, and I felt that maybe it was an appropriate way to start off by talking about how we handle things as teachers, because obviously most of our audience are singers and teachers, how do we handle things when we've got a wobble? Yeah. Because I can tell you right away that this morning I was reading a forum post, you know, cuz I belong to a forum for people with heart arrhythmia and somebody posted about the Queen. And I just burst into tears, just like that. You know, someone I've never met and there's this kind of social grief thing going around and it impacts on you and we've all been in those situations, haven't we? Where someone's come in, talk to us about wobbles. Well, our own wobbles and the wobble of the person we're talking to, obviously, I mean, sometimes they go hand in hand, like in a situation, um, like we're facing today essentially, or, um, and everything. I think COVID was a bit like that as well. We were all in this together. Um, sounds a bit cliche, but it really was true, I think, to a degree. And, um, so yeah, there's obviously what do we do with our own wobbles when we still have to teach when we still have to work? And then on top of that, when we are maybe already feeling a bit low or wobbly, um, yeah, how do we deal with someone else's wobbles? And that is obviously very, very important. I think, um, the own wobbles always comes first. It's a bit like the old adage about putting your own mask on first. If you know what I mean, you really can only be there for others if you take care of yourself. And I would always say, yeah. If it affects you so much that you really feel today is not the day, then I think no one should feel shame to say, you know what? Um, I have to cancel today because I feel like I wouldn't give my best and I owe you that much. And I think most people understand that as well. So I would say always put your own mask on first that obviously goes without saying so, um, it gets a bit of knowing yourself as well. If you can handle it, if you can, self-regulate enough to still go into your sessions or whatever you have on, um, to still give your best in big quotation marks. That always sounds a bit trite, but, um, at the end of the day, we want to be there for our clients. And at the best ways is it it's about knowing yourself, isn't it. It's knowing how you yourself react. Absolutely. And the things that you can do that are best for you in those circumstances. There's so, so many things I love about what you've just said, because. We talk a lot. Um, when we're working with teachers about the importance of holding the space for someone's learning. Yep. And we work to hold the space when we're working in our own trainings. But what you are saying is first hold the space for yourself. Yeah. Absolutely because you can't, you are the container. I'll always say that. Um, I mean, as therapist, we talk about that quite often, um, safety on containment and so on and so forth. And you as a therapist are part of that safe container. And, um, if you are literally overflowing with your own stuff, let's say it that way, there is no space for any of the stuff of your clients, essentially. So you need to make sure that you are in a good grounded place yourself first. So you can't go into a session if you're dealing with your own stuff. Um, it has to be said like that. And sometimes then it's actually better to say, okay, I just need that time off. I owe that to myself and I also owe that to my clients. That's very nice. And we know as well now don't we, that if we just try and suppress what we're feeling. Yeah. That's actually, I mean, it it's toxic in the sense that it affects us. It maps itself in the brain because we haven't dealt with what's going on. Mm-hmm am I right? Have I understood that correctly? Yeah. Yeah. um, and then that's going to affect us long term, let alone how I think it's inevitable. It's going to spill out. I mean, like it's spilling out today, but I decided to use it, um, because in a way it's very relevant to what we wanted to discuss anyway. Mm-hmm but it spills out over the sides. Yeah. Yeah. And we don't want that happening. So you mentioned self-regulation. Should we go there next? I mean, it's all over social media. What the hell is self-regulation, you know, let's put it on the wall. What is it? Well, self-regulation is essentially the ability to manage your let's call it energy states in a way. So that includes, um, the physical and somatic. That includes your, um, yeah learning your mental capacity and so on and so forth. That includes your emotions and your thoughts . So when we are talking about regulation in that context, that doesn't necessarily mean you already brushed on that. Um, I don't regulate to push it away, so it's not that, it's not suppressing it. That's something entirely different. It's just, um, the ability to yeah, work towards the best outcome. Let's say it that way. So, um, just to take that example, if you are quite upset about something there's different ways to self regulate. There is, yeah, crying for instance, and knowing if I let loose in that way. And if I just let it wash over me, and if I give myself the space to allow that, that is self-regulation, so it's the complete opposite of pushing it away essentially. Yeah. Or doing something where, you know, that feels good. That feels nurturing. That feels right for me in this very moment, whether it is just sitting in a corner with a book somewhere and, and closing yourself off for a wee while so that, you know, like, okay, I, I need this time for myself. Or having a bath or going on a walk or exercising to get things out of your system. That is obviously very, very, um, individual. So there's no hard and fast rules. This is what we do when we self-regulate mm-hmm um, so that's also about the, getting to know yourself and also getting to know what, let's use that word, triggers you in a way. And learning the ability to, um, yeah, step back from that essentially, and to say sort of like, how can I sort of not just be reactive, but still allow to process if, if that makes any sense, because reactivity, again, can sometimes be a bit dangerous, especially if we take it into the space with other people, essentially. So it's a. It's a real skill. It's a real, yeah, it's a real skill. It's hard. Well, I mean, when you are in, when you are in strong emotions, you are in strong emotions and it's a real skill to have a part of you that goes, hang on, I'm in a strong emotion. um, and is that strong emotion, I'm not even gonna say necessary cuz that's not the right word, but is it appropriate? Is it relevant? Am I reacting so strongly to something that maybe isn't doesn't need that form of reaction? That's a real skill to learn. I mean, I, I learn it, you know, I, I use it. It's very interesting when you go hang on a minute, I'm reacting really strongly to this. What else is going on? What's going on? I mean, we have a key phrase actually in our own personal relationship, which is, "are you in the grip of strong emotion?" Mm-hmm. I like that. If you're on the receiving end of a grip of strong emotion and obviously, you know, we, we both do that, yeah, it can feel like a blast. And your natural response of course is defend... Is to defend yourself. Mm-hmm instead of standing back and going, oh right. This is a grip of a strong emotion. We understand what this is. That's what you're feeling right now. And I mean, obviously this is very much your, your job as a therapist. This is your day to day thing. As singing teachers in the singing studio, I suspect that's somewhere where we need not be going. And when we talk about boundaries, you can help us with that. But if we're going back to self-regulation, this is a theme. That's come up twice, already getting to know yourself. We need to know ourselves. If we're going to be able to work with other people and singing teachers are not therapists. But there's a real bond of trust between a singing teacher and a client. And we need to know how to handle that bond, I think. Yeah. And before we go further, there's a word that keeps coming up and I want to ask you what it means, and that is the word somatic. Oh, mm-hmm, tell me what somatic means. I mean, um, in the sort of therapy realm, that's sort of slightly different maybe from what most people would understand, because for most people, when they talk about somatic, um, they literally mean, yeah, everything that concerns the body in a certain way, essentially, as opposed to cognitive or whatever else or behavioral, whatever else we might be talking about. And that is true to an extent. Um, but especially when we are talking about the coaching and the therapeutic context, um, somatic essentially means, um, that we are working on yeah, let's call it a sort of dual awareness. So, um, we are helping the client to feel safety in their bodies first, to gain awareness of what's going on. Um, so that's a bit different from the approach, for instance, we take in more cognitive behavioral approaches where there's a lot of reframing of thinking patterns and so on and so forth. So this is first of all about, yeah, allowing the physical experience, because we probably all know that when we feel anger, when we feel shame, when we feel nerves, it's not just in the head. In fact, I sometimes think the, the thought process is actually what's latching onto the physical sensation, essentially. So when we notice, like, I, for instance, know that for myself. Um, I always, um, because I have a benign heart condition, everything that brings up my heart rate makes me go if you know what I mean. Totally with you . So you immediately, although in theory, you could try to talk yourself out of it, you know, like, oh, it's it's, it's okay. I've experienced this a million times. It will all be fine. But we all know that's not how it works on a physical plane, right? The sweat starts pouring and we get slightly panicky and it's not that easy to just really go like, yeah, just talk myself out of it. So the somatic approach in that case would be more about, um, I would almost say a certain curiosity of what's going on in the body and learning that it's not necessarily your enemy in that moment. That that's probably a good reason for why you're feeling physically what you're feeling. A stress response, whatever it might be. And that, that is normal. And that it's not life threatening. If we talk about sort of more dramatic cases, obviously, but even if we just talk about things like performance nerves, that we learn that our body has a good reason that does these things. And that they're probably not as bad as we think, and that we can befriend our physical response till they lose this strong emotional grip over us. And then when we start to feel that safety in our bodies again, sometimes the cognitive approach isn't even necessary anymore. Um, so you have people who are totally fine, just working somatically and they don't ever need to talk about whatever trauma they've been through or something. It just they're ready to move on. And some people also, when they feel safety in their body, then start to feel, you know what, I'm ready now to actually start talking about these things. And when I talk about them, they don't feel triggering anymore because that is something that can be quite a slippery slope. Yes. In the studio, for instance, that even inadvertently by things we say. Even if we mean them well, how does that feel? And so on and so forth that we lead a client into something that triggers them. Obviously not consciously, no one does that on purpose, I would reckon. Um, so this is, um, where it obviously gets interesting in terms of work in studio. I want to go there in a minute, but I want, I want to pick up the word safety. Okay. Go on that. Because safety, I I'm so fascinated by the word safety, because anybody who performs, puts themselves into what is potentially an unsafe situation for, for whatever reason. Yes. Yeah. Um, I love the, the idea of safety of, of, um, helping yourself and helping others to feel safe because in my head, what happened in my head, in my whatever, what happens. When you feel unsafe as your energy comes inwards and it goes into protective and you can't then give out, you can't expand, you can't do anything because you are feeling unsafe and your feeling of safety is paramount. It's the most important thing. And then once you start to feel safer, it's exactly like you said, you can talk about what you are feeling or what's going on without necessarily then becoming re-involved in the energy of that potentially dangerous situation. Yeah. So for me, you talking about safety is so important and it's a lovely concept that when you have somebody in the studio that is going through something that this is an, it's almost like, um, an extension of helping them to feel in a safe space. Yep. Love that. I want say a little bit about, um, somatic, because I think it's quite important. Um, first of all, it's it sounds like what you're saying. And it's certainly been my experience is that, um, if you are, you know, a cognitive person, you, you know, you really like digging and getting information. And we both love information that when something happens, that's upsetting, you start hunting. You're looking for reasons, you know, it would be lovely for you if you could have this conversation with someone and talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. But in fact, what I found in my situation, um, with the heart condition was that that didn't make the difference. What did make the difference was tuning into my body. So you're not tuning out. You're not suppressing. You're also not necessarily talk, talk, talking, you're tuning into your body, which allows you to feel I I'm here. And I think that's what you're talking about. And it's actually a super powerful tool. Isn't it? Yeah, absolutely. So it's really about, um, yeah, just, I think these days we can be so removed from yeah, embodiment in any shape type of form. I think where we're all living in our heads quite a lot. It's probably also a sign of the times, some people more than others, I think. Um, it's, it's what you were describing there. Um, I fall into that bracket as well. I'm a thinker, so it's just, um, the body always comes last. If that makes some sense and much to my own detriment for a while. So I had to learn all these things as well. I think. Um, every therapist probably is where they are because, um, they, they want to become the change they want to see, whether that starts with themselves or with other people around them. They've experienced and they want to help or whatever. Um, so we all have a path in there, but I think, um, it's sort of this idea of befriending our bodies again and allowing to just get a sense for the physical experience, without judging it straight away without going, oh, this is potentially good. This is potentially bad. This is how it should be feeling. This is how it shouldn't be feeling. It just is. And it is probably for a good reason if you know what I mean, whether we like the sensation or not, that's the different, um, feeling. But I think despite the fact that there's maybe always physical sensations where even after years of practice where we feel like no, I could do without them, so to speak. they still, they lose this tight grip over us. They lose this sort of like they immediately set me into a panic. They immediately make me want to run off or whatever it might be individually. We can just acknowledge they're there. And, um, we, for instance, in acceptance and commitment therapy, do something like that we call diffusion if you know what I mean. Where we sort of step back from the whole thought process that is attached to physical sensations, but also to our emotions where we just, um, it's almost like being the, sort of like the onlooker a tiny bit, and that needs practice because it's what Jeremy mentioned earlier. It's not easy to just like, get yourself out of the, if you're in the thick of it, if you know what I mean, sort of to say like, woo, okay, let's step back for a moment. But it's a skill that can be practiced and learned like any. Um, one example that that is really sort of always comes up. Um, and especially the parents will understand that, for instance, if you have very small children and, um, sometimes you just feel like, oh, if you know what I mean. And you learn to actually walk away, even if they're crying and if they want your attention. But you learn that you are so activated and potentially so reactive that it is actually safer to just lock the bathroom door for five minutes, even if they're standing outside crying, mommy, come back. So you can just go and breathe and reassemble yourself and then walk out and be calm. And that is a process like with anything else. Mm-hmm. I wanna bring somebody else into the conversation right now. We've had some questions sent in some on speakpipe.com/VocalProcess, which is where you can record a question, and some have sent them in which I'll read out. But the first one I want to bring up is Franka and Franka has sent a, uh, a recording in. Here we go. Yes. I have a ton of questions for Petra, but I'll start with this one. In my singing studio. I have a lot of avocational adult singers who often are, uh, intelligent people, but are not used to working with their body and they can get very uncomfortable when we start working on felt sense or just mapping of the, of the body. You know, things that go around around with singing. Um, and sometimes to an extent where I feel that there is a lot of anxiety, um, irritation when it comes to feeling actually. And when people start feeling, sometimes things come up. For instance, I had this woman in my studio who was in tears because she felt like, how am I ever going to find my own voice? So obviously there was a little bit more going on there. And my question would be when can you, as a singing teacher work with these things, and when are you supposed to hand it over to a professional? What are the signs that you're supposed to look for? What a great question. Great question. What a great question. Franka always asks such insightful questions. Yes. Okay. Petra off you go. So, um, there are many sort of aspects to this, obviously. So one would be, um, where we'd always start with yourself again. Um, how comfortable are you around these questions yourself? Cause that's again, the sort of like safe space and so on and so forth. Um, Maybe rightly so maybe wrongly so, the student gets this idea that these things make you uncomfortable, that sort of can also turn into a feedback loop. And I just, um, want to say that quite clear, clearly that's not meant in a judgemental way in any way, because it's totally fine for the singing teacher to say, you know what? I want to teach singing and I don't want to get involved in anything else. That is your boundary. And that is totally fine. So, um, that is okay. Some people want to keep that quite clean like that. And other people that boundary is more permeable or whatever you want to call it, where they feel like it's fine. And, and, um, I can hold that space. But if you, as a singing teacher and I'm just talking to every singing teacher now, obviously, um, feel that's not a place I want to go to, that's absolutely fine. Um, so that would be the first thing. Um, the next thing would be, if you already asked the question, should I get involved in this? Is this going a bit deeper? Whatever? Chances are that as a singing teacher, you don't want to get involved. I would say, um, trust your instinct there. If you feel like there's something going on where I feel, maybe it's a slippery slope because obviously you don't want to go like, you know what? You should see a therapist. I think that's a sentence. We shouldn't say that way because that can feel very shame inducing if we do it that way. Um, but if you already have this feeling, there's something out of the ordinary there. Chances are there might be, and then it's just a question for you. How do I want to handle this? And, um, there's different aspects to that, obviously. So one thing, um, where I would say it's a red flag for you as a teacher, when you notice like, okay, this is, um, someone who's becoming, not just, they're not just annoyed today. They're not just, we all have the situation that someone sings a song and they burst into tears. That probably happen to ourselves as well, because it's just something, yeah, that brings up emotions and that's totally fine. And although for the student to whom that happens for the first time, it can always feel that tiny bit embarrassing. I can still remember when that happened to me and my singing teacher. And I was like, oh God. Um, so, but I think that's fine. And most of us are quite well equipped to handle that. Um, because we've probably been there ourselves. Um, But if you feel there's something going on akin to, yeah, they're leaving their window of tolerance, let's call it that. Um, so by window of tolerance, we're meaning if someone becomes hyPER-aroused, so you start noticing they're getting very agitated. Mm-hmm, away from their normal baseline. We probably always know their students who are naturally a bit more, you know what I mean, a bit more boisterous and a bit more out there. And there are the ones who are more quiet and they maybe don't talk that much, um, in between whatever else we're doing with them and so on and so forth. So if you feel there's something different from where their baseline normally is, if you've known these people. At least a wee while. Um, that's always a red flag. So if they become very fidgety, if the eyes start darting, if they maybe even start sweating or something, if their speech becomes very agitated, if they maybe even get angry, if they start shouting, if they start swearing, I mean, maybe all experience these people in our studio, um, who sort of, if they struggle to handle their emotions, who then go into a swearing fit or something, again, there's people who are naturally more sweary than others. So, as I said, always look, um, at the baseline. Or the opposite if they become hyPO-aroused. So if you feel like out of nowhere, their energy is totally nose diving. So where you feel like this doesn't seem what they're normally like, this is not just tiredness. They maybe came in after work or whatever it might be. So you really feel like there was something going on in the teaching situation, or maybe leading into the teaching situation where they totally start to retreat within themselves. And maybe they even start becoming pale or something, or maybe they all of a sudden say, I need to sit down or, or something like that. And you feel it's not just a physical component, it's sort of like that. There's something going on that maybe triggered them in that way. So that would be something to watch out for, in an acute situation. Mm-hmm . Um, but then there's also, when we say like things we maybe don't want to get involved in if we spot ongoing patterns. Um, so for instance, if someone seems incredibly low for a really long amount of time, or if you feel like their moods are really fluctuating quite a lot, again, away from the baseline that you experience with them. If they only want to talk all the time, If every session is just like, I need to offload whatever's going on in my private life. And if they sort of like, I don't wanna say push you because they don't mean it in a bad way, obviously. But if you feel like they try to pull you into this counselor, confidante, been there!, um, thing, if you know what I mean? So, um, that would be something where I would also say maybe not. Or the very obvious thing, if you notice there's something going on that, um, in the way they talk, you, you are worried about their safety or if they talk about self-harming or other things, obviously. But I think that doesn't happen that commonly, if you know what I mean, they need to be already quite, yeah, severely down to sort of go with that path. But that goes without saying. If someone mentions, um, self-harm or suicidal ideation or whatever, then that's always something where you need to get someone else involved. If you're in a school environment, talk to whatever school counselor might be there or whatever, if you're a private teacher and that's obviously much more tricky, I always tend to tell people have a list of people you trust. Yes. Psychotherapists or whatever, but try to avoid the thing, "you know what I think you should see someone". That is really a last resort. I would say, because as I said, it can be shame inducing, although it might get so severe that you have to say just for their own safety as well. But, um, I would always hold off of that for as long as you can. But maybe make it part of your onboarding process. But you say, I have a list here of massage therapists, physiotherapists, psychotherapists, all people who know how to work with performers who have long experience working with people like that. So if ever you feel there's anything going on in one of these areas, these are people I trust and, um, I'm sure they would be able to support you essentially. So. That's very nice. I love that, actually. I think we should, we should create one for our teachers. We should. Yes, we will. Yes. And I think, um, It's difficult because, you know, we require empathy in order to be able to teach at all. Then we start to feel empathic towards the client in their distress, and that's when we want to intervene. And it took me quite a long time to learn that that actually wasn't appropriate there. Sometimes clients do need to talk a lot and they may actually be talking about their concerns and worries really about their voice, in which case I will stop and listen. And I kind of pick up the things that I can then work with. Um, but it's, it's quite hard to, to know what that boundary is, isn't it? There's something very specific and I love it because the analyst in me goes love this. Um, you are talking about a baseline all the time. And again, what this means for me is that you, you analyze your client, if you like to know where their quotes "norm" is. Um, and what you're talking about, the signals, if you like are, when you spot something that you think might be well outside their norm mm-hmm. So it's like you said, when people are showing strong emotions that seem to be ongoing or they seem to be well outside what they would normally be, uh, in your judgment. Yep. And I think that's really fascinating because again, I love the idea that we are always analyzing what we hear and what we see and what we feel and what we experience. And you are essentially, I mean, you know, people hate this, but you are essentially categorizing people and what you are really looking for. It's like when I sightread, I don't just read the, I don't read the notes, actually. I just look for the things that aren't usually there. So I look for extra accidentals or weird chords or anything like that. And then I can home in on that. And what you're saying is that you have an idea of your client and, and the sort of general type of person, general type of behavior, and you are looking for things that are out of the ordinary and going, is this my remit? Yeah. Well, that's why we keep client notes. Yes, we have to. Exactly, exactly. And, and it's not, as you said, it's not about being about them and, you know, pigeonholing and, you know, we're not experts in, in, uh, the region of psychology, but you do pick up things about people's energy, don't you, and suddenly, as you said, if they become very fidgety and avoiding things and constantly pushing, maybe towards a certain outcome, and then you have the sense that maybe they're avoiding doing the work that they need to. I mean, I think we certainly had a client in that situation and there was something going on and we were fortunately able to sign post it and flag on. Mm, there's something else as well, which I think is really interesting, which is if let's say the behavior takes them away from the singing for so long. Mm. Because your job, whatever else you do, your job is singing teaching. So if that person is just not singing or is singing two words and then stopping and talking for 10 minutes, there, there's something there that you go, my job is this, my job is not that. So if it's not, whether, because sometimes people come in, you know, if, if I give an hour session, very occasionally I've had somebody talk for 45 minutes because they've needed to, and it's a safe space and all of that. And then we get back to the singing and it works really well. Mm-hmm I think the difficulty is when somebody does something like that, but they don't get back to the singing. Mm-hmm yeah. And then you, you are becoming, uh, an outlet for them that is not to do with your role. And I think that's a really important one. That is important. I mean, this is where we get into this whole area of, of scope of practice and also protecting yourself essentially, because, um, we're obviously meaning well, and I would say that most people who are in the teaching profession in the widest sense are empathetic people by default. I think otherwise we probably wouldn't be doing this job. Um, and it's, it's very hard to sort of, because you don't want to hurt people. It's this constant thinking like, no, but if I say something, oh, they might take it the wrong way and so on and so forth. So that takes a bit of practice and skill as well to start doing that in a thing. I mean, let's say it quite frankly, there is no way you can guarantee that someone doesn't take your words personally, no matter how well you try to frame it and how, um, unoffensive you try to be and whatever else, there will always be that one person who will still find offense at what you're saying. So it's, it's not possible to sort of eliminate that risk entirely, but there are obviously ways to communicate that, bring that risk down a tiny bit, and that comes down again to holding space and giving that client the feeling I hear you and I get a sense of that. You're maybe going through a hard time at the moment or whatever, but this is outside my scope of practice, essentially. And to then learn to gently steer the conversation or the work back to where you want it to be. So if someone talks a lot, sometimes just, um, really a little relief and, and me, we all have students who, who are maybe where we know, okay, they need their 10 minutes at the start to just arrive. If you know what I mean. And I don't have a problem with that. If I know that's just how they take, because I know that for the rest of the session, the session will be more productive. Yes. If they can do that. So this is related to this topic, and this is a second question from Franka. "What can we as singing teachers do to make our studios a safe Haven for those who might have experienced trauma? And I mean, hands on tips and tricks, since we never know upfront, if a client might suffer from trauma, we need to be prepared. This may be the case." Well, if you know me, you know, that I always bristle at hacks and tips and tricks. Yep. Because I think that that, um, comes with the job as well, because it's such an individual thing. And, um, obviously you always need to look, um, at the person in front of you, but there's certainly things we can do in a more general way to make our studios safer spaces. And again, that starts with our own inner work, I would say, so that we can be the container to hold space that we yeah, maybe sort of look at our own. I always like to call them building sites as well, along all the professional development that we do. Um, I sometimes joke about this, but I'm actually not, I'm quite serious. I think every singing teacher should just take a therapy session. Not because something is wrong in big quotation marks, but just as like, we take a general health checkup, like an mot to just talk through things, see what's coming up. Whatever, if there's anything we maybe want to work on or just as some sort of self-care as well. So that would be one. So start working on yourself, if you are willing to do that. And I think everyone should be willing to do that, obviously, because that's where safety starts. Um, to know that we have our own things going on, that we sometimes do take them in the studio and that we may want to start to slowly navigate away from that. I think one really important thing is what are my own comfort levels with invitation versus direction. Okay. Tell us more about that. I think as teachers, um, some more so than others, we're, we're sometimes falling into the habit, do it this way and so on and so forth. And this is the way to do it, as I said some more than others. Um, and I think if you're thinking of a trauma survivor, as Franka already pointed out, quite rightly so. You never know if one is standing in front of you. So, um, because some people don't even know themselves that has to be said, and some people are used to hiding it quite well. So you can't just look at a person and go like, oh yeah, they've probably experienced trauma. So, um, it, it unfortunately, or maybe fortunately depends on how you're looking at it doesn't work that way. Um, but what can be triggering for a lot of people who have survived traumas, one sort, or the other is if they're being told what to do, because the very essence of a traumatic experience is that you had no choice, that choice has been taken away from you, that you were In a situation where there was no way out, whatever that was for you personally. And the smallest things that we maybe don't even think about twice can bring this sensation of immense helplessness and shame, and maybe even feelings of guilt back up again. So if someone feels like I'm being told to do this, and I have no choice and I maybe feel like I can't do it, but that's the person in the know, and I'm sabotaging my own session here or something. These are the thoughts that come up for people like that. So that's why I would always say, and this is sometimes just such a small change to actually extend an invitation to people, to do things, instead of telling them do this. So instead of saying. Close your eyes. For instance, this is a big one by the way, because that can be immensely triggering for people. So if you're using mindfulness techniques or whatever in your studio, be careful with just telling people to close their eyes, essentially. Um, so. Just to ask sort of like, how does it feel for you? Does it feel okay to close your eyes? If not keep them open, do whatever feels right in this particular moment, because that gives them a choice that gives them a choice to go into that situation in any way they see fit. And then by that you're building trust and then they might be more willing to later on, maybe try something else as well. So that, so I would say invitation versus direction, and that is a learning curve, I think. Um, because sometimes we, as teachers, we can feel frustrated as well. I think what's so interesting about that is first of all, that's so clear. It's a very clear definition that you had no choice. And also, um, it's a very apparently simple change that you, as the teacher can make. But behind that simple change, there is a lot going on because that is asking the teacher to change their language, but also the way they communicate the way they feel about the instructions that they're giving. There's a lot going on there. I, I love that. I think that's really clear. I I'd actually like to offer an example that I can think of. There are some students who do not want to look in the mirror. It is actually really, really disturbing for them. And I've certainly been in that situation. Now, you don't know what's going on behind there. What kind of body dysmorphia there may be or anything like that, or what they've been told in the past. And one of the ways that I've handled that is to say, oh, okay, that's fine. Um, why don't we mirror each other? So we kind of, you know, copy my movements. You do your movement. I'll do mine. And to sort of raise awareness of what's going on that way, rather than forcing someone to look in the mirror because you are making eye contact with yourself in the mirror. Mm-hmm, , there's actually nothing more powerful than making eye contact. Mm. That's sport, isn't it? Yeah. And I think we, if we want to become more trauma aware, I mean, this is something I always bang on about because, um, trauma awareness, trauma being trauma informed is such a big thing afterwards selling point it's a selling point. It is. And if you say that, um, you're not in the good books anymore, but, um, I think sometimes we have to call out things for what they are. And a lot of people jump on that bandwagon. There's nothing wrong with being trauma informed. I actually think everyone should be. It's just, if you should, as a singing teacher, make that your main selling point, you can have all of that running in the background that still makes you a trauma informed practitioner. I always think like if you say. Oh, trauma informed this and that. And so on and so forth, you invite that into your space. I mean, I even wrote a block about this and there's nothing wrong with doing that if that's what you want to do, but you have to be aware of the implications that has, and of the potential clientele that feels attracted to that. And you have to know if that's what you really want. Yeah. You also need a sense of responsibility. Yeah. Yes. And so to yourself and your clients, and that's the scope of practice thing, isn't it? Because. you advertise yourself as trauma informed and you actually have not had the training for instance, that someone like yourself has had, yeah. You are not going to be equipped to deal with those situations that come up in your studio. And I think I applaud you for that blog that you wrote. Cuz I think it needed to be said. I think it sounds like it's people latch onto a buzzword because it's the latest thing mm-hmm yeah. I'm not sure that people understand what trauma is and how deep it goes. Yeah. Yeah. And then they can be faced with a situation that they are literally not qualified to deal with. Mm-hmm exactly. I mean it's, it's sort of the inflationary use is the one thing that every type of emotional discomfort now gets branded trauma that doesn't help. The person with emotional discomfort because they just become less resilient that way, because they will constantly think there's something wrong with what is actually essentially quite normal human experience. Mm-hmm but it's also not helpful to the actual trauma survivor. I mean, trauma is sort of, well, there are diagnostic criteria obviously, but I'm not one who sits there sort of like with the DSM five and goes like, yeah, you don't have trauma because there's not one tick box here or whatever. That's not how it should be working either. If you know what I mean, it's a big, massive gray zone, but, um, I think it has become a buzzword. And I think that is, or that brings its own host of problems. And if we really want to become trauma aware or trauma informed that can't be done by doing yeah. Taking one weekend class or whatever. So for instance, some of the courses I run, they give you a brief insight. They give you some pointers as to, okay. If this is what I want to look into. How can I train myself more? What else do I need? Where do I even start? If you know what I mean? But it's not sort of like you need real in person training. You can't learn that. Like with reading a couple of books and taking a couple of online classes, it's absolutely not possible. And it doesn't qualify you in the same way. That was the thing in the past that like a level two or level three counseling qualifications, didn't qualify you to be a counselor. They're two completely different things. If you know what I mean, counseling skills and counseling are two completely different things. And, um, so, so one is sort of like, yeah. Learning about holding space and understanding about how you bring yourself into yeah. The relational dynamic and so on and so forth. And the other is actually doing. The work of being a counselor or a therapist, and they're just related at the very, very bottom of the pyramids, if you know, and they're not, it doesn't qualify it for you. And that, um, trend greatly, greatly makes me feel yeah, uncomfortable because it's left right. And center everywhere. And I feel like, um, yeah, the pendulum has. Swung too far to the other side, we've come from, just suck it up and go through it. That was my generation still. You didn't talk about these things, if you know what I mean, you just got on with it. That's not where you want to be either, but we are now sort of where everything as trauma and everything has to be sort of looked at from this. Well, basically we're saying, oh, we're not pathologizing things, but by looking at it that way, we actually. Yes. We start to pathologize the normal human experience. Yep. Mm-hmm and the pendulum has swung too far, but I think maybe that's sometimes what needs to happen before it lands in the middle. And before we arrive at the point where we ideally want to be. But I think at the moment we are not, we've swung too far to the other side. That's at least how I see it. Thank you, Petra. That's wonderful. Wonderful. Okay. See you next time. Thank you so much. Bye. This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher. This is a voice.