Being Well Podcast: What Really Helps Trauma? with Dr. Jacob Ham
November 19, 2023

In one of the most interesting conversations we’ve ever had on the Being Well Podcast, Forrest Hanson is joined by clinical psychologist Dr. Jacob Ham to explore what really helps people work with — and be with — trauma.

They begin with Dr. Jacob Ham’s background and what drew him to trauma work before Forrest asks him how he “conceptualizes” different kinds of traumatic experiences. Dr. Ham then takes them away from the conceptual, and toward the felt. 

They talk about cultivating a felt sense of connection, empathy as a way in to relationship, and the value of anger. Dr. Ham shares about his own process taking risks as a clinician, using parts work, moving away from the “false idol” of cognizing, and finding a unique way in for each individual.

About our Guest: Dr. Jacob Ham is a clinical psychologist, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai, and the Director of the Center for Complex Trauma. He was the therapist former podcast guest Stephanie Foo wrote about in her wonderful book What My Bones Know.

Key Topics:

  • 0:00: Introduction
  • 2:30: Jacob’s background
  • 5:20: Cultivating a felt sense of connection vs. idolizing the concept of trauma
  • 11:00: A monastic, medical, and artistic approach
  • 13:00: Knowing our intentions, and feeling others’ pain as a therapist
  • 18:00: Surrendering to overwhelming grief
  • 23:50: Love, vulnerability, and authenticity
  • 29:45: The value of anger, the energy it demands, and navigating it with humility
  • 34:45: Presence, and taking risks as a clinician
  • 40:40: How Jacob does parts work, and finding what works with each individual
  • 46:15: Staring at the finger that’s pointing at the moon
  • 49:25: Does a good therapist need to have experienced trauma?
  • 52:30: Honoring our inner protectors, surrendering to pain, and knowing it won’t last forever
  • 56:20: Shaping others’ ability to help you, and processing trauma without professional help
  • 1:00:15: Tipping points and surrender
  • 1:04:15: Recap

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Join Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson every week on the Being Well Podcast for lively and thought-provoking conversation and practical tips for being happier, building inner strengths, and getting the most out of life.

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