Category: Particularly for professionals

Words that make us feel seen

Words that make us feel seen

‘Does trauma always involve dissociation?’ someone asked me this week. Good question. But just as my pontificating was about to begin, I slammed on the brakes.

I stopped myself, because any response can sound like an edict, a dogma, ‘the gospel according to …’

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Should we stop saying ‘commit suicide’?

Should we stop saying ‘commit suicide’?

‘Unfortunately, you’ve undone all the good you’ve done today.’

She was deadly serious and I was utterly perplexed. What was she talking about? I had spent the day delivering my training day ‘Dealing with Distress: Working with Suicide and Self-Harm.’ A tough day, but a good day. A day of hope for how to help people who see no other way through their pain but by taking their own lives. A day of guts-and-bowels emotion.

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Working within my Competence

Working within my Competence

I had worked as a counsellor for about twelve years before I went on my first PODS training course on dissociation. I had so many lightbulb moments that day, it felt like my brain was burning.

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Me and My Boundaries – A Therapist’s Tale

Me and My Boundaries – A Therapist’s Tale

The issue of boundaries had always been a non-issue for me: I saw my clients for 50 minutes; there was no contact between sessions (no need for contact between sessions, surely?); it was a purely professional relationship. No dramas, no big deal. And then I started work with my first really traumatised client, and everything was called into question

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The businessman, the therapist and the brilliant CEO

The businessman, the therapist and the brilliant CEO

I came to be a therapist quite late in life after a successful but ultimately unrewarding career in business. I always felt that there should be something more to life than making money, and it struck me repeatedly how mental health difficulties disrupted the lives of so many of my staff.

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My therapist is retiring

My therapist is retiring

My therapist is retiring next year. I’ve worked with her for nearly five years and I’m not ready to finish therapy yet, so this is a difficult issue for me. Having spoken to PODS, I’ve realised that many other people face the same or similar situations, so I thought I’d write about how it’s impacting me and how I’m dealing with it. But I have DID, so I have a variety of responses…

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Making the most of therapy

Making the most of therapy

You’ve come a long way. Misdiagnoses, mistreatment, maltreatment even—but eventually you’re here. You’ve found a therapist willing to work with you—either privately or on the NHS—and so now you’re expecting it just to happen. Right? Wrong!

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The Beginning of Understanding: Part 2

The Beginning of Understanding: Part 2

The beginning of understanding was really just that—a beginning. Little did I know how much I had to learn and how much I really didn’t know. When my peer supervisor mentioned to me this strange word ‘dissociation’, it was an entirely new concept to me. Now I wonder how that can be.

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The beginning of understanding: my first experience of dissociation

The beginning of understanding: my first experience of dissociation

Suddenly, like a party popper, out came her words. ‘It happens all the time. People will be talking to me and I can’t remember what they’ve been saying. I used to think I was just forgetful. But it’s not that. It’s like they can be talking to me and I know rationally who they are but it’s as if I’ve never met them before in my life

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Managing flashbacks

Managing flashbacks

Coming to terms with flashbacks—understanding what they are, learning how to manage them, and eventually figuring out how to reduce them—is a cornerstone of recovery. Carolyn Spring explains what goes in the brain during a flashback and how to learn to manage them.

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Ten roadblocks to recovery

Ten roadblocks to recovery

Recovery from trauma is hard work, but it is possible. However, there are number of things that inhibit that process, and this article looks at ten of them.

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My experience of phase three work

My experience of phase three work

I used to struggle to understand what phase III could possibly be about, because my life was so consumed with just surviving, and then so consumed with working through traumatic material to neutralise it, that I imagined that therapy would always be like that, and that once it was no longer happening, there would be no more need for therapy.

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No sex please, we’re dissociative?

No sex please, we’re dissociative?

My role as a psychosexual therapist is to help a client understand what ‘language’ their body or their behaviours are speaking. Once people understand their triggers and behaviours, they are more likely to allow a change, if that’s what they want.

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The three phase approach: part two – treating trauma

The three phase approach: part two – treating trauma

Phase 2 of the three-phase approach is the aspect of trauma therapy that is most geared towards facing and resolving the intrusive traumatic memories that plague a trauma survivor’s life and manifest in forms such as flashbacks, physiological dysregulation, avoidance, numbing and re-experiencing.

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EMDR in the treatment of dissociative disorders

EMDR in the treatment of dissociative disorders

‘EMDR psychotherapy is an information processing therapy and uses an eight phase approach to address the experiential contributors of a wide range of pathologies. It attends to the past experiences that have set the groundwork for pathology, the current situations that trigger dysfunctional emotions, beliefs and sensations, and the positive experience needed to enhance future adaptive behaviours and mental health.’

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An introduction to grooming

An introduction to grooming

‘Child grooming’ refers to a series of actions deliberately undertaken in order to develop an emotional bond with a child in order to sexually abuse them. Grooming increases the availability of the victim for abuse whilst decreasing the likelihood of detection for the abuser.

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Boundaries

Boundaries

‘Dissociative parts of the personality’ grabbed the headlines, but my inability to set boundaries was the silent assassin destroying me from the inside… I said yes to everyone else, and no to myself. Other people mattered; I did not. And so, breakdown.

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Managing triggers: part two – turning down the smoke alarm

Managing triggers: part two – turning down the smoke alarm

After trauma our brains are sensitised to threat and our amygdala – our brain’s ‘smoke alarm’ – tends to react to burnt toast as if the house is on fire. In this article Carolyn Spring shows how to turn down the sensitivity of our smoke alarm – and overcome the impacts of trauma.

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Working with a dissociative disorder diagnosis

Working with a dissociative disorder diagnosis

Once we understand dissociation as a logical response to overwhelming trauma, it stops being so dramatic and different, and the person suffering dissociation stops being ‘complex’ and ‘bizarre’ too. There is nothing bizarre about dissociative disorders—what is bizarre is how some people can be so badly mistreated that they end up with a dissociative disorder.

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What is psychological trauma?

What is psychological trauma?

Trauma is an event or series of events that are so overwhelming and threatening to life or sanity that a person cannot cope. The mind may switch off (dissociate) during the event or, at the very least, it will not be able to hold together the different elements of the event afterwards and ‘integrate’ them or join them together.

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What are the usual responses to trauma?

What are the usual responses to trauma?

The way we respond to trauma is not a matter of choice – it is a biologically preprogrammed set of responses which happen in a predictable sequence. Here we look at the five ‘F’ responses to trauma.

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What is dissociation?

What is dissociation?

There are many ways to describe dissociation, and we look here at dissociation as it pertains to dissociative identity disorder and trauma.

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