Recovery from trauma starts with acknowledging the existence of bears. It requires the involvement of a safe tribe. It necessitates the telling of our story and the healing of our wounds. And it requires action to keep us safe from further bear attacks.
‘Trust me,’ says the therapist. And everything in me wants to curl up and away, disappear some place in my head, and never come back. It is an understatement to say it, but those two words are a massive trigger.
We need the capacity to cope with the pain of facing our trauma. We need confidence that things will get better. And we need a safe therapeutic relationship ...
Do female clients prefer female therapists and male clients prefer male clients? Or are there more pressing questions to ask other than gender? Who would you work with?
Are the words we’re using, to describe our own experience or to make sense of someone else’s, distracting from human suffering and a bid for connection and support? Or are they tools to be able to come alongside someone in their distress?
Should we talk to parts? Or does that make things worse? When someone switches, is this attention-seeking behaviour? And is talking to a ‘part’ in some way dangerous – does it reinforce pathological behaviour? What should you do?
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.
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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