ABOUT THE DAY
Trauma is rife, but adequate help and treatment for it is rare.
Therapy for trauma is complex and challenging work, but is not covered on most core counselling and psychotherapy courses.
So often therapy for trauma ends up:
- Making things worse, not better
- Finishing before the client is ready
- Becoming stuck and jammed
- Being unable to meet the needs of the client
- Becoming overwhelming and deskilling for the therapist, leading to burnout and/or secondary trauma.
The instinctive response very often, therefore, is to avoid it. Refer on, say you don’t work with trauma, or hope that trauma clients won’t approach you. There are multiple problems with this approach:
- Trauma is the most common reason for people wanting to access counselling or psychotherapy
- Clients don’t always know that what they’re dealing with is trauma, and certainly may not call it that - even months or years into the process
- Trauma hides itself from sight, presenting covertly in secondary symptoms rather than overtly or up front
- Too many people have suffered trauma for us to consider it a specialism - it ought to be a core part of therapy training.
Added to the mix is the fact that the dynamics of trauma therapy are different to regular therapy:
- How do you talk about ‘what happened’ if you client has no memory for it (traumatic or dissociative amnesia)?
- How do you process trauma safely, within a window of tolerance, if your client has limited affect regulation skills and is afflicted by flashbacks and other trauma-related symptoms?
- How do you keep your client safe when trauma leads to extreme distress, often resulting in suicidal ideation or self-harm?
- How do you develop a therapeutic alliance if interpersonal trauma has shattered your client’s trust in people?
- How do you work on articulating and reflecting on feelings if they have become shut down or dissociated through trauma?
- How does a client whose trauma has led to overwhelming shame even bear to be vulnerable and visible in the therapy room?
My own story is a case in point. I stumbled into counselling having had a breakdown. I didn’t know enough to call my experiences ‘trauma’, and neither at the time did the trainee counsellor that I ended up seeing. It was only after several months of working together that the extent of my trauma started to present itself - and by then it was too late to 'refer on' (not to mention there was no-one to refer on to). My counsellor was inexperienced even in counselling, let alone in trauma. But she learned as she went along - we learned together - and we ended up working together very successfully for nearly ten years.
In this course I bring together the things that worked and most importantly the things that didn’t, the things we wish we’d known at the beginning, and the things that have come to light even since I finished therapy through the latest neuroscience research and clinical literature. Because although trauma therapy is complex, it can be hugely successful - as my life and experience bears out.
As trauma survivors, we need skilled and compassionate help to relieve our suffering. Our suffering matters too much for us not to do something about it. The main problem in the UK at the moment is the dearth of counsellors and therapists feeling confident and competent to work effectively with complex trauma. Therefore, rather than a single day, trying to pack everything in to 7 short hours, this is going to be the first of a series of standalone days which together will cover in depth a wide range of topics related to recovery from trauma.
Each day can be attended on its own or as part of the sequence. Day 1 will run in our usual venues throughout the UK launching from September 2020, and Day 2 will probably be launched in the Spring/Summer of 2021 (TBC). A third day is then pencilled in for late 2021 or early 2022. (Please note: you don’t have to attend all three. You can attend any, all or even none! - although we’re not hugely keen on the ‘none’ option!)
This training is aimed specifically at counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and other mental health professionals, but will also be of interest to trauma survivors seeking insight into the recovery process, as well as a wide range of other professionals working in a supportive capacity with survivors.
These will be narrative-led days, mixing personal experience with clinical and neuroscientific research and literature, but with an emphasis on really making a difference to what goes on in every session of therapy with clients with a history of trauma, to promote real and realistic recovery. It will be honest, applicable and relevant, with plenty of opportunity for reflection and questions.
The speaker is Carolyn Spring, who since 2010 has delivered training to over 17,000 delegates at over 170 events, and is author of ‘Recovery is my best revenge’ and ‘Unshame: healing trauma-based shame through psychotherapy’. Read more about her here and access her free online training ‘Dealing with Distress: Working with Suicide and Self-Harm’.