Renowned psychotherapist Emmy Brunner has been helping people redefine trauma in her new book, Find Your True Voice. Already attracting a legion of celebrity fans (including Paloma Faith, Katie Piper and Sophie Ellis-Bextor), it offers a practical guide for identifying, accepting and moving on from unresolved issues.
Brunner is the founder of Europe’s leading outpatient service, The Recover Clinic, which treats sufferers of trauma, depression, body dysmorphia, anxiety, eating disorders and addiction.
The book comes at a time when we all feel under greater pressure, offering a must-have tool to begin the journey to better mental health. It’s proved invaluable for many, as NHS mental health treatment is becoming increasingly limited and private counselling unaffordable for many.
The Brighton-resident believes we’ve all experienced trauma in our lives, and that what we refer to now as ‘mental illness’ is actually our response to those experiences. Her clinical work framed by this belief, she reaches out to dynamic and ambitious- inspiring and empowering them to reconnect with their true selves.
Alongside her one-to-one coaching program and online course, From Lost to the River, Emmy has written for publications like The Guardian, The Independent, Metro, Refinery 29 and Elle, alongside featuring in documentaries for both the BBC and ITV.
Using a warm and compassionate voice, Find Your True Voice offers a guide to identifying, and overcoming, unresolved trauma. A combination of case studies, practical clinical advice from The Recover Clinic, and 11 simple recovery tools, including meditation, vision boards, self-care tips, body-healing and future-self journaling, this book can be an important first step towards recovery.
With a growing number of us struggling with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, or low self-esteem, we spoke to Emmy Brunner about her book and how we can navigate the path to recovery.
Did you start Find Your True Voice with a clear goal, or was it an evolving project?
I created the book so that as many people as possible could benefit from the clinical learnings and personal insights that I’ve gathered over 17 years of working as a Psychotherapist. Mental health treatment remains a privilege in this country and there is something deeply wrong with that. The aim of my book is to provide support to as many people as possible.
Are you hoping that people can find empowerment through your work?
Absolutley. When people gain context and insight into what is causing their ‘mental health problems’, they become empowered to implement change and most importantly, they understand what it is that they need to focus on in order to change their lives.
How much can trauma affect our life choices?
Trauma can profoundly impact our life choices. The way that we process and recover from challenging life events, frames how we view ourselves and our place in the world. When we begin to understand how our traumas have limited our life experiences, we become empowered to change things.
Is it possible that many cases of depression are being undiagnosed? Is there a clear set of symptoms?
It’s undoubtedble to me that people are living with depression and being unaware or have normalised their symptoms from suffering for so many years. So many of us are becoming ‘depressed’ as a result of being unable to effectively process and recover from traumatic life events, when we can understand that we describe as mental illness as actually a response to trauma, it shifts our perspective enormously.
While mental health is important, should wellbeing be approached holistically?
The quality of our mental health is intrinsically key in living a contented and peaceful existence and should be of paramount importance to all of us. We are taught culturally to only really respond to our mental health needs when we are in a place of crisis, rather than nurturing our mental wellbeing as part of our day to day commitment to self-care. Approaching our wellbeing from a holistic perspective allows us to develop a more mindful and compassionate relationship with ourselves, which in turn, contributes to preventing mental health ‘crises’ to occur.
While the media and celebrities are increasingly open to discussions around mental health, is there a still a reluctance amongst ‘normal’ people to talk about their issues?
It’s very challenging for any of us to talk about something that we simply don’t have a language for. Although the importance of mental health is being given cursory attention now in schools, our young people are not being taught how to communicate their emotional and phsycial needs in a confident and attuned way. Those of us who are flying the flag in talking about our issues and mental health are doing so because we’ve had to ‘learn’ how.
The British seem to have a tradition of ‘stiff upper lips’ and ‘Blitz Spirit’. Is there a point when cultural stoicism becomes toxic?
Absolutely. There was a hangover of pride associated with pushing on and keeping it together and a real misunderstanding in the fall-out these approaches can have. A repression of who we are, how we feel and a denial of our basic human needs is, without exception, devastating to a person and their quality of life.
How much can national traumas filter down to personal experience?
The last 18 months have seen increase isolation for all of us and the impact of that has been a rising in mental health conditions, particularly those that function as ‘strategies for coping’ such as eating disorders. If we don’t have the tools to cope when trauma hits, we seek out anything we can in order to survive, including things that may seem simply destructive and dysfunctional to some.
Lockdown seems to have generated a lot of attention around mental wellbeing. How can we ensure that this facilitates lasting change?
Increasing education in young people in how to nurture their mental health and ensuring that mental health resources are available to everyone.
What advice would you give to someone who thinks a friend or loved one might be burdened with anxiety?
Anxiety is a very normal response to trying to cope with a manage trauma. You and your loved one have been through an enormous amount. I hope that both you and your friend will find comfort in my book and my work. Together we can create an open conversation where we can share what this last 18 months have been like and through this space, we can begin to feel less alone.
Emmy Brunner’s book, Find your True Voice, is available now at all good bookstores and here