Introducing Shanna White
We welcome our newest advocate!
Shanna White is a Psychologist, Family Therapist and Clinical Trainer. With a specific interest in neurological impacts of trauma and intervention development, Shanna is the founder of Cognitive Behavioural Education (CBE). A bespoke provider of professional development programs and clinical supervision for all industries in trauma informed practices. She has worked in child protection, residential care, corrections, rehabilitation, community services and private practice. Shanna’s passion is bringing trauma informed practices to anyone providing direct care. Shanna also hosts a successful podcast, The Trauma Tales, where she interviews trauma survivors and shares their stories with compassion, knowledge and even some laughs.
Shanna will be hosting a workshop at our upcoming Workplace Mental Health Symposium at the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa on the 13-15 September 2021.
You can find her here: Cognitive Behavioural Education
Or on any of her social media profiles:
Ready to meet our latest ambassador? Let's go!
Hi Shanna! Why don’t you give us and our readership a little insight into what you do and who you are?
My name is Shanna White. I'm a Psychologist, Family Therapist and Clinical Trainer, and I believe that it's my purpose in life to help others overcome the long-term impacts of complex trauma. Although I work with people of all ages, my true passion is working with children and young people who have, regrettably, experienced early developmental trauma. I've seen what can happen across an individual's lifespan when childhood trauma isn't addressed. However, I've also been privileged enough to see how someone's life can be transformed for the better when they are afforded the resources, education and support required to overcome the pain of their past. Although I don't believe that trauma can ever truly be 'cured', I do believe that it should never be the end of anyone's story.
I have dedicated over fourteen years of my life to mental health care, and in the last two-and-half of those years, I've worked to establish a company dedicated solely to the provision of Trauma-Informed Education. Cognitive Behavioural Education (CBE) aims to provide industry-specific Trauma-Informed training to caring professions in both the public and private sectors. Our goal is to package decades of trauma systems theory, neurobiology and psychological study of the impacts of trauma into practical and realistic education, training and resources that those working with vulnerable people can employ to support the individuals they care for. We are also dedicated to supporting caring professionals in maintaining their own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
What made you decide to become a psychologist and family therapist?
I have two stories that I can choose between when people ask me why I chose to pursue psychology. The first story is a little more amusing. When I was eight or nine years old, I snuck out of bed and hid in the hallway while my parents watched 'Silence of the Lambs'. In that moment I decided, when I grew up, I wanted to be just like Clarice Starling! I won't lie: the rose-coloured glasses have fallen away, since that night. However, my desire to make an impact within the field of mental health has only grown stronger.
From a young age, I've had reasons beyond 'Silence of the Lambs' driving me to become a psychologist. My brother is five years my senior and has severe disabilities. I spent much of my early childhood in the offices of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, specialists, dietitians and psychologists, learning about the human brain. I was captivated by how it works, how it functions, and how we see this functioning play out in human behaviour. I was particularly captivated by what happens when the brain doesn't function in the way it's supposed to. I remember pouring over books the books filling the shelves of my brother's psychologist: looking at the pictures, marvelling at how amazing humans are. From there, I was completely sold. I wanted to know everything.
You conduct a lot of training on mental health and trauma awareness – what are some of the biggest misconceptions you think there are about mental health and trauma?
I think that one of the biggest mistakes people can make is taking the symptoms of someone's mental illness at face value. Don't get me wrong: the manifestations of mental illness can be confronting, confusing, even frightening. But people are not their illnesses. We need to be able to look beyond the symptoms of mental illness and realise that, in order to help someone move beyond their trauma or illness, we need to address the core issues fully, rather than simply attempting to manage the resulting behaviours.
When dealing with trauma, in particular, I believe that people generally lack understanding as to what trauma actually is. Trauma isn't always a single, earth-shattering event; on the contrary, it is more often the accumulation of consistent, ongoing circumstances that slowly chip away at an individual's internal resources. If we striving to be Trauma-Informed, we need to recognise that trauma manifests differently in different situations. We need to approach the space with an open mind... no one person's experience is the same, but trauma should never be the end of anyone's story.
How can an individual best support someone dealing with past or present trauma?
When someone we care about is struggling, it's very easy to feel compelled to 'fix' things. As cliched as it may sound, however, the best thing we can do is be present. We need to be willing to listen without judgement... even if we don't fully understand, or if the experience being shared makes us uncomfortable. If we know of resources that may be of use, we can offer suggestions... but at the end of the day, sometimes all people need is to feel heard, and to realise that our perception of them hasn't changed due to the struggles they've chosen to share with us.
Tell us more about your podcast! Feel free to plug it. 😊
Ah, The Trauma Tales! My pride and joy! This is a project that I have been working on for the past six months alongside one of my dearest friends, Gracie Bradbury. Gracie is a media producer, and she is also CBE's Media & Communications Manager. We wanted to create a platform for people to vent, essentially: a safe space where they could talk about their personal trauma, validate their experiences and - most importantly - celebrate the ways in which they have moved beyond those experiences. We also hope that, with this podcast, we can remind people that it's okay to not be okay. We aren't defined by the bad things that happen to us, but these things deserve to be acknowledged.
Our first season has been received with so much enthusiasm and support... and I'm stoked to announce that we are fully booked for our second season! Our goal was to start a conversation; the first season has been comprised of people who Gracie and I know in 'real life', but this coming season is filled with the stories of those who have reached out to us on their own! We release a new episode every other Wednesday - you can find The Trauma Tales on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Stitcher, or wherever you like to listen!
What does becoming an ambassador mean to you?
I have always been candid about the fact that my 'mission' isn't one that I can achieve on my own. Yes, I have the training and the experience and the passion; however, in order to make a sustained, wide-reaching impact, I need to work hand-in-hand with others who share my passion. Becoming an ambassador gives me the opportunity to connect and collaborate with others who believe in the goals that I'm pursuing. I can support other professionals in my field, be supported in turn and work to further awareness of trauma, Trauma-Informed Education, and the mental health field as a whole. I cannot begin to describe how honoured and excited I am to be an ambassador!