026: Recognising Trauma – Carmel Boutchard



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In this episode:

In this episode of The Fearless Females Podcast your host Tegan Mathews interviews Carmel Boutchard who shares:

  • How she overcame a lifetime of traumas ranging from an assault at 11 and through two abusive marriages
  • How doing an assertiveness course for women started her healing
  • How a hunger for knowledge gave her empowerment
  • How she is still a little scared of letting love in
  • Why recognizing trauma and feeling safe is so important

Tegan’s Take Aways:

1.    Surviving is just what you do when you don’t know what else to do. To solve this, research what else is out there, there are always options.
2.    Learning to say “I” statements can be so empowering
3.    Overcoming trauma will free you up to experience joy
4.    You have to be willing to experience love
5.    When facing a confronting situation, write down and rehearse what you want to say, make sure it’s not inflammatory, and then say it or write it in a letter/email and send it.

About Carmel Boutchard

Carmel Boutchard is a hypnotist, coach and counsellor and specializes in supporting those dealing with trauma. She is a therapist who helps people understand and recognise trauma-related symptoms, safely confront their trauma & take the emotional charge out of it so they can finally feel safe & know physically, emotionally & mentally that it is finally OVER. They are safe & they are more than enough!

Contact Carmel Boutchard


My Symmetry Online

A Gift for Listeners From Carmel Boutchard

A 15 page ebook on 7 Signs of Trauma – why you’re not crazy and it’s not your fault plus 3 things you must do to get a life that works and 1 thing you can do right now to get started.

By entering your name & email address we agree we won’t share your details with anyone! You may receive the occasional emails from Carmel Boutchard and MySymmetry. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Show Notes: Episode 026: Recognising Trauma – Carmel Boutchard

Carmel Boutchard’s Fearless Story

I had a fairly stable family life outwardly but my mother had been assaulted when she was a child and had probably post-traumatic stress disorder, and so that really affected my life and my siblings life as well; but I really noticed things started going wrong when I was eleven.

At eleven I was sexually assaulted at the beach one time and so I was quite traumatised by that experience. Then when I went to high-school I was a bit emotional and the nuns weren’t very understanding. So, long story short, they threw me out of school.

After that I just didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I, gosh… there are just too many things, but basically, I met a boy and ended up pregnant before my sixteenth birthday. So, I was a mum at sixteen and then got married off to the father of my child. He was quite immature, as he wasn’t that much older than I was, and violent and verbally abusive. So I eventually left him. Later I got married again but I must have been a slow learner because it was pretty much the same again…so I got divorced again.

This and a lot of the other things that happened left me with no self-confidence and no self-esteem; I had no career, I had no training, and I was frightened to be myself in any way shape or form really. I was basically just hiding away for most of my life, just surviving, which is what you do when you don’t know what else to do. So not really living!

What was it you were afraid of then?

It was mainly just being afraid of being myself really. At that age, you aren’t very conscious of things so I was probably afraid of other things too, but I wasn’t very conscious of what they were as I was functioning on automatic.

What did stand out for me was that I was too afraid to say anything, to challenge anything or to question anything for fear of being hit, or ostracised or verbally abused in some way. That’s basically what controlled me for all of those years.

How did you turn it around?

I think …I got to a point when I was thirty-two… I went to a course on assertiveness training for women and that was the very first bit of personal development that I learnt. It was very skill based so I learnt how to use ‘I’ statements and to begin to verbalise what you want and to put boundaries around you. This was quite life changing for me.

It all grew from there. I learnt about counselling, I learnt about psychology and how families work, and communication. It was all skill based at that point.

What are some of the things you learnt then, that supported you to get through your past experience?

It’s a real skill to be able to determine what is your ‘stuff’; what you need to take responsibility for and what you can hand back to other people, which is about the boundaries I suppose. Assertiveness is a great place to start!

The other thing is how to communicate in a way that gets to the heart of the matter; and not inflame situations. It’s difficult to put it into a nutshell really.

I had to learn about emotional management, as most of what I was learning at that point was skill based and so I wasn’t very emotionally aware, but I was starting to be. This meant I had a lot of emotions floating around. If you are sad or depressed then you need to learn how to manage yourself and get out of those states rather than just wallowing in those feelings, which is when you are in danger of becoming the classic victim.

Also, rehearse and practice what you want to say. If someone has said something nasty and you really want to say something to them, rehearse it. You are still going to be nervous when you say it but rehearse what you want to say, make sure it isn’t inflammatory and then either say it or, what I used to do is write it to them and send it.

That used to terrify me. But it would work. Learn to walk away first and then get clear on what you want to say, rather than just going off in the moment.

What have you learnt from the experiences you’ve had in life?

There’s always going to be a part of me that is sad about those years because there was a loss. At some point you realise that you have lost your youth and those things you expected to have as a teenager and young woman that you just don’t have. But now I just accept them as fact and they have made me stronger.

It’s a bit of a cliché but what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger and able then to support other people who maybe aren’t that strong yet. When you have trauma, and especially with post-traumatic stress disorder and you haven’t yet dealt with it, it is easy to get triggered by it because it is at the front of your mind; but once you have dealt with it, it’s just something that happened to you once, a memory.

If you don’t deal with it it’s like it’s in the present and keeps happening to you over and over again. Trauma is quite physical and so your body is always reacting, the adrenaline is always there and you are always on edge.

What are you passionate about today?

I use a number of different techniques but basically I work with trauma in a couple of different ways. Part of it is educating people about why they feel the way they do, why they feel anxious, depressed or can’t keep a relationship together and things like that.

There are three stages I take people through. In the first part we change core beliefs and programs and introduce people to who they really are, because when you go through those types of experiences you end up having untrue beliefs about yourself such as, ‘you’re not worth anything’ or that ‘you deserve to be treated like rubbish’.

So we re-program a lot of that stuff and a big part of that is for people to know that they are safe. To get over trauma you have to know that it’s over.

The second part is; you get to take the pain away from the past. It takes away the emotional charge from that experience (s) and that’s very liberating. You don’t necessarily go back and face your abusers so to speak, instead we do it in a more powerful way where you get to say all the things you would have wanted to say to them if you could have in a fun, powerful and safe way.

Once we get all of that out of the way, we then focus on the future because then you’ve got a clean slate and you can then work out what you actually want out of life.

In amongst that there might be guilt and there might be grief and we have things we can do about that, to relieve you of those feelings as well. A lot of it is with hypnosis which I really like to use.

Most Memorable Moment

There have been so many but one of my first clients had been through a divorce and had been treated like rubbish basically. I loved how she felt so free after the sessions we had together and she said she had gotten more out of that than two years of ‘normal’ counselling.

We’ve had clients that, if you heard some of their stories, what happened to me is nothing. The things that people can do to each other are appalling and there are some people who can’t even leave the house, but after doing this sort of work, they are literally free. They can feel joy, which is a bit elusive when you’ve been traumatised.

For myself, specifically in relationships, to be able to trust and be willing to accept love is huge. That just wasn’t something I was willing to do because I was too scared of getting trapped.

But the thing is that it isn’t always like these big ‘Jesus’ moments, it can be quite a subtle thing too where you can look back after three months and realise “that relationship has changed” and that person is now relating to me,  because it changes you on a vibrational level as well.

I went to visit my son the other day after not seeing him physically for a couple of years and because of all this stuff we had had a bit of a strained relationship.  But I had done a lot of work since I had last seen him, and I really noticed how differently he reacted to me, and when I left he gave me a proper hug instead of a perfunctory squeeze. It’s at times like that, you realise it has changed. That the affection is there again.

It starts with you, and when you change, your energy changes… and it doesn’t always, but usually, that will have a positive effect on how those around you treat and react to you too. It can go either way, you will either come closer together or it will bounce you apart and I always need to make sure that clients understand that.

Take for example war veterans, and how they get bonded together as a group. A lot of them have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and one of the things that can stop them from getting well is that they feel like they’re leaving their mates behind. So I have to tell them that might happen, and they may choose not to do it because of that.

This can happen with anyone who chooses to make a change. You have to realise that your friends and family that are close to you may feel uncomfortable with that change and it is up to you to be aware of that and then decide how to deal with that. It may mean you leave them behind but your new vibrational level will attract new friends into your life.

Sometimes with my clients, they get better after being unwell and then suddenly the husband or wife no longer has someone to look after and it can change the whole dynamic of the relationship; it either falls apart, brings them closer together or they will get sick again.

What is something in your future plan that scares you?

There are two things that scare me. One, on a more serious note is allowing myself to be loved and getting closer to my husband which scares the absolute xxxx out of me to be honest.

The other thing is that I have committed to going travelling for a couple of months by myself after this semester of university finishes, and I am not that brave with things like that because I get scared of getting lost. I’ve only travelled in these last couple of years so it’s all very new to me and I don’t know how I’ll manage New York on my own.

How do you intend to face these fears?

What’s that book, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. I have found that if I just stand there and don’t run away, I’m fine. There aren’t any special tricks except to just face it. I do use my hypnosis which helps but when it gets down to it, you just have to be there and you just have to be present.

That’s the same in a lot of situations where fear shows up. You can do your preparation but when it comes down to it, you literally just have to be there and be present rather than running away. Of course, there are some situations where you need to run away and it’s about learning which to do when.

Five Fast Fun Fearless Facts about Carmel Boutchard:

Bonus things you may not know about Carmel: I used to be a blackjack dealer. I can sing and have done a few musicals when I was younger. I am a closet stand-up comedian, but to go on stage and do that would scare me! I have sung in an eisteddfod, probably not very well, but I did it to stretch my comfort zone.

  1. Who inspires you? Judith Richards who has put together this trauma process that I use. She has the most horrendous story and she fell apart, physically, mentally and emotionally and she put herself back together again and I just think she’s amazing. Also, although I have had issues with my mother she still inspires me because she had seven children, and had the challenges of her own to overcome. She had a stroke when she was older and so she was immobile for ten years, but she always kept her sense of humour (and her marbles); she only died a couple of years ago and she was always very resilient.
  2. Favourite thing to do each day? I love waking up and making a cuppa and sitting in the sun for three or so hours writing or reading or just sitting.
  3. What’s something that still scares you? Besides getting closer to my husband, travelling alone and stand up comedy, I’m doing my Masters in Counselling at the moment and I guess it’s that fear of making mistakes and wondering if I should be doing it or not, and then there’s the fear of turning in a terrible paper, and then there’s also the fear of being visible too. That fear of getting negative feedback from ‘haters’ and being ‘smacked down’ but that’s not as big a fear these days, I don’t worry about it quite as much now that I feel a lot stronger.
  4. Favourite technique or app or book? Book – “The Body Keeps The Score’ by Bessel Van der Kolk; plus I love Whatsapp because it enables me to communicate with my daughter who lives in Mexico. We can send messages, videos, chat and even call each other on it. It’s amazing!
  5. If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing in the world right now, what would it be and why? If I could, I would love to make it so that everyone had the opportunity to be free to fulfil their potential.

Final Question for Carmel Boutchard

If you could turn back time what’s the one piece of advice you wish you could give your fourteen-year-old self?

To really understand that your life belongs to you and not to anybody else.

And, to not allow people to dump their ‘stuff’ on you and then blame you. People sometimes try and dump their feelings and desires onto you and then try and make you responsible…so…don’t let them!


A Gift for Listeners From Carmel Boutchard

A 15 page ebook on 7 Signs of Trauma – why you’re not crazy and it’s not your fault plus 3 things you must do to get a life that works and 1 thing you can do right now to get started.

By entering your name & email address we agree we won’t share your details with anyone! You may receive the occasional emails from Carmel Boutchard and MySymmetry. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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