For further information please go to following page: www.Stiftung-Traumatherapie.com . There will be soon an translation in english.
The foundation was established in 2020 by Heinke Sofka, who is founder and sponsor, with the Caritas Community Foundation in the Archdiocese of Berlin acting as the trustee.
The main focus of the foundation is to provide trauma therapy in the form of Somatic-Experiencing to children, teenagers and young adults who have experienced trauma and who would not otherwise have access to therapy.
My motivation to establish a foundation for overcoming developmental trauma has come from my experience as an occupational therapist working with children and especially with children who have experienced developmental trauma. Another motivator has been my encounter with the Polyvagal Theory of Dr. Stephen Porges. Both of these aspects have resulted in a professional exploration of the topic of trauma. Children who are referred to occupational therapy with underlying developmental trauma naturally come to my practice with goals other than overcoming their trauma. They often come to therapy with a very elevated level of arousal/hypervigilance (a high state of the sympathetic system) and a very limited ability to regulate themselves. Among other things, this can result in problems with concentration, not being able to perceive and feel themselves in a way that is appropriate to the situation, as well as an excessive regulation of affect. I have often reached the limits of my sensory integration therapy approach, as well as behavioural therapy approaches.
The autonomic nervous system of these children is not sufficiently capable of regulation. For the adequate intake and processing of sensory stimuli, the autonomic nervous system is either adjusted too high or too low. In order for other forms of therapy to be successfully applied, the autonomic nervous system needs to be brought into a regulated state. Likewise, a regulated autonomic nervous system lays the foundation for the self and contact development as well as bonding ability. The Polyvagal Theory according to Dr. Stephen Porges states that in order to become a socially engaged person, a special part of the vagus nerve (the ventral part) must be developed. If a person has experienced developmental trauma, this part of the vagus nerve often does not mature.
Not only has the Polyvagal Theory been very helpful to me in terms of understanding trauma, but it has also shown me the dependence of our sense of safety on the presence of a co-regulating person. Our sense of safety in childhood or as adults affected by trauma is dependent on whether our body feels secure and safe in its social environment. The cues for the body not to go into a defensive modus depend on the physiological perceptions of our autonomic nervous system that are evoked in a social situation. Dr. Stephen Porges calls this neuroception. If the right safety-giving impulses are sent out and interpreted by the neuroception as safe, an interpersonal exchange can take place that also includes higher cognitive functions and is characterised by emotional reciprocity, respect and appreciation.
I extend a big thank you to Dr. Stephen Porges and his team for developing the Polyvagal Theory.
With the study of developmental trauma, I realised how traumatic events in early childhood and adolescence can overshadow an entire life. The traumatic experience influences the body awareness as well as the physiological state of the person. As a result, the affected person's ability to make contact and to bond becomes very limited. Dr. Peter Levine developed the body-based form of therapy called Somatic Experiencing in order to address the physiological dysregulation of trauma therapy. He is a friend of Dr. Stephen Porges. As far as I understand, the development of Somatic Experiencing and the Polyvagal Theory have influenced each other.
We can never act or exist alone in this world. We are always dependent on the help and support of others to grow and become an independent person. Even then, we are still dependent on other people. Our safety is also always dependent on the safety of the other. Together we are always more than if we relate our actions only to ourselves. We always achieve the greatest impact and result of our actions when we include the other in our thoughts and actions and put ourselves in their service.
Therefore, it is a great wish and a need of mine to help other people, providing them with trauma therapy, to (re)gain their ground, to feel better themselves and to gain their self-regulatory ability or to make it possible to experience it at all. And thus to become a person capable of interaction and bonding.
Setting up my own foundation has been a long-cherished wish. In particular, my wish to channel my energies and entrepreneurial skills into building a foundation as well as being able to help shape civil society, are triggers to become active as a founder and sponsor.
If you have any questions about the foundation, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 030/9443580.
If you would like to help children, adolescents and young adults to overcome their developmental trauma in order to enable them to lead a self-confident and self-expressed life, you can donate to the following account.
Foundation for Trauma Therapy Heinke Sofka
IBAN: DE59 3706 0193 6004 5430 15
The address of the foundation is: Bucher Chaussee 5. 13125 Berlin.
You will of course receive a donation receipt. For this purpose, please send your details to me at: Stiftung für Traumatherapie Heinke Sofka, Bucher Chaussee 5. 13125 Berlin
What is trauma?
Various experiences such as a traffic accident, a serious illness, loss, childhood neglect, war, natural disasters or (sexual) violence can trigger trauma. In such threatening situations, the body intuitively reacts either with flight, fight or freeze. For each of these three natural survival strategies, the body mobilises enormous energy. This energy is automatically discharged again in the case of flight or fight - but often not in the case of freezing. If the high energy bound up in a state of freeze is not discharged, e.g., by shaking it off or by the regulatory support of a fellow human being, the energy remains trapped in the autonomic nervous system. The body remains in a state of alarm, it suffers a trauma. The somatic dysregulation leaves the person with a feeling of defencelessness and helplessness and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Acting and feeling in the here and now is severely restricted and so are the emotional and cognitive processing levels. In the absence of somatic regulation, this can lead to attachment and contact disorders as a result of the traumatic event.
In order to overcome trauma, the overstimulated autonomic nervous system must first be brought back into balance. Many common therapies have a strong cognitive orientation. However, since the autonomic nervous system is not subject to conscious will, these forms of treatment ultimately neglect the actual root of somatic dysregulation. The Somatic Experiencing approach of the internationally recognised trauma researcher and therapist Dr. Peter A. Levine, on the other hand, starts with the body`s reaction to traumatic events. The focus here is on seeking and tracing body sensations and impulses, emotions, inner images, thoughts and beliefs. The same applies to the pendulation between stabilising resources and trauma elements that can be experienced physically. The traumatised person is given the opportunity to discharge the frozen energy in small doses. This method prevents re-traumatisation and gradually builds up a feeling of safety and the capacity to act. Body awareness develops towards more presence and safety lived in the present. Trauma is overcome when it can be talked about without the nervous system going back into stress. Life is no longer overshadowed by the experience that triggered the trauma, but is integrated.