FOCUSING AND TRAUMA WORK
Counsellor, BACP (Acc), Reg,Dip Supn, UKCP Acc,Supervisor
I am an Integrative Person Centred Therapist and UKCP Accr Supervisor. My Integrative practice includes elements of Psychotherapy, Person Centred practices, along with TA, CBT, Gestalt and now Trauma Work and Focusing/Grounding Techniques.
The main content of my caseload, both as a Supervisor and a Therapist, consists of Trauma related interventions. This applies not only to my work with clients who are experiencing the effects of historical traumatic events, but also to my work with Therapists who work with these clients and often, out of awareness, suffer Secondary Trauma Symptoms. Following attending the Trauma workshops, I was able to recognise the negative impact on the therapist’s work with their clients, when they themselves are affected by trauma. For example, the therapist developing boundary difficulties with their clients in terms of extending numbers of sessions to ‘rescue’ the client or deviating from the therapeutic goals originally identified collaboratively with the client.
On a personal level, out of awareness, I had been subjecting myself to vicarious traumatisation for some time. I realised that to be able to work effectively with both clients and supervisees I needed to address my own self-care. In turn I could then raise the Therapists self-awareness of Secondary Trauma and self-care. I made the realisation that my own difficulties stemmed from high levels of empathic responses. I had to some extent, believed that in order to be Person Centred in my approach this required me to ‘follow’ the client back to their historical trauma to process the events which , in my opinion, invites re-traumatisation.
Whilst working as a volunteer in an environment providing therapy to clients suffering complex trauma symptoms I met Dzmitry and attended the two Trauma related workshops run by himself and Celia.
My learning has been that Person Centred Practice can involve a variety of techniques which can halt the re-traumatising of Clients during the Therapy process whilst still maintaining the Person Centred approach. Thereby we can protect both the client and ourselves .
FOCUSING AND TRAUMA WORK
I found Focusing work enabled the client to ‘move’ at their own level of tolerance. They are enabled to Identifying where the trauma lies in their body and promote an acceptance of the traumatic events and its effect on their body. Thereby moving towards an integration of the events into the ‘here and now’ without the events impacting negatively with strength, on their present lives. As the technique does not rely on ‘talking’ therapy or language abilities, I have used it with clients for whom English is not their first language, those too traumatised to relate events and also young people whom I have experienced, cannot always find words but can use this technique for processing distress.
I have experienced many other of the Integrative Techniques being ‘stopped in their tracks’ by trauma. The client’s perceptions of time scales are distorted and their usual thought patterns disrupted by trauma. This resulted in ‘stuckness’, an inability to find a way forward. In my experience my personal development from the workshops has been to be able to allow my clients, my Supervisees and myself also, to ‘sidestep’ the frustrations of the ’stuckness’ and blockages caused by trauma and its disruptions of the thought processes. All in all a very liberating technique and the workshops providing valuable insights to ourselves and others and the potentially debilitating effects of trauma on our minds and bodies.
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