Psychotherapist & Trainer, Certifying Co-ordinator, The International Focusing Institute (USA), BA, Dip in Person-Centred Psychotherapy, PCAI (GB)
Dzmitry and I are taking a break from running workshops for the summer. We will be starting again in September with COMPLEX TRAUMA WORK (STAGE 1) - THE 1ST PHASE OF TRAUMA RECOVERY on 16/17th September 2017.
Looking back, we have come a long way since we first started running workshops together in 2013. First of all we ran a successful five level course on Focusing, leading to a Certificate in Advanced Focusing Skills. Dzmitry is an expert in working with trauma and in 2014 we began to combine teaching Focusing-Oriented therapy with teaching people how to work with trauma. Focusing is an excellent way to deal with trauma because it is a body-oriented approach and it enables us to reach the trapped trauma energy in the body, unlock it and re-integrate it into the adult whole. This can be done without the necessity to go into the story of a trauma which always brings the danger of re-traumatising the client. Focusing can also bring into awareness traumatic events which have been forgotten or dissociated or have taken place at a very young age before the child has learned to speak.
Under the organisational title, Health Minds, we began our Trauma workshops. Although we have always welcomed people to join our courses for their own healing, we soon found that we were attracting more and more trained and experienced therapists. Complex trauma is one area which is often not satisfactorily covered in conventional therapy training and our approach is simple, easy to learn and very effective.
It is a delight to work with such dedicated people who are anxious to find new ways to help their clients. This did, however, bring its difficulties. Our emphasis with trauma work is to make people aware that there are three stages. By far the most important stage is the first: establishing safety and stability [Judith L Herman, M.D., Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences (1998)]. This is the most difficult to achieve. How many times have we, as therapists, had clients who never returned after the first session, or who even ran out of the room during the first session, never to be seen again? I know I did before I learned about this stage. When I was running my counselling agency we would despair of clients who could not keep appointments and who seemed to live chaotic lifestyles. Now I know that that very chaos is a symptom of trauma. Sometimes it will take months or even years to help a person to become stable, to have a safe place to live, to have their debts put in order, to get their benefits sorted out, and, most important of all, to realise that they have resources within themselves to deal with emotional upheaval.
All of our subsequent workshops are built upon STAGE 1 - THE 1ST PHASE OF TRAUMA RECOVERY. Originally, we made it obligatory to attend this STAGE-1 but it was changed later on. At the moment we only make it obligatory for those wishing to attend “STAGE- 2” - Working with Adult Survivors of Trauma. Thus, we have made our other workshops open to everybody:
Working with Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma, (25/26th November)
Working with Nightmares and Dreams - (14/15th October)
and Working with Children: Helping Children Cope with Trauma (2/3rd December).
This means that in each of our workshops we have to go over some of the preparatory work on safety and stabilisation, and often new people are surprised about the importance of STAGE- 1. Afterwards, many of our participants decide to join STAGE-1.
I am very pleased to say that recruitment to our courses is going from strength to strength. We are gaining a good reputation for running experiential sessions where attendees feel safe and secure enough to be able to share their difficulties and their discoveries. This, of course, is mostly down to the participants themselves and their willingness to “dive in” to new experiences.
Now that we are working under the title of “Complex Trauma Network” we have attracted more attention and we plan to develop many more new courses for working in this field. We aim to make our website the source of a true network where people can exchange ideas and advertise themselves. We now have two extra trainers, Rod Aungier and Madeleine Kay to help with the work and we are encouraging several of our students to continue with our training so that they can themselves become trainers and help to expand our work.
I retired from running my agency some years ago but I have found this training work to be great fun and very stimulating. Of course, all this is mainly down to Dzmitry’s leadership and his endless energy and enthusiasm.