I have a special interest and considerable experience in working with people who have experienced trauma, particularly with survivors of child abuse, neglect and other traumas. I have undertaken extensive professional training, education and clinical supervision to help me develop skills in working with survivors.
Childhood trauma affects the delicate developing brain, leaving survivors with a range of symptoms which can include anxiety, depression, dissociation and relationship difficulties. Frequently survivors tell me they have been to many different health professionals and have been given lots of different diagnoses and treatment, yet the underlying issue – trauma- has sometimes not been identified and dealt with. This can leave the survivor feeling like they are ‘difficult’, ‘incurable’, or have a never-ending list of complex problems. Trauma counselling addresses the underlying cause of many of the survivor’s problems and is able, over time, to provide relief, healing and personal growth.
In addition to working with survivors of child abuse and trauma I also provide trauma counselling for people who have experienced birth trauma, workplace trauma (including vicarious trauma, which often affects those in the ‘helping/caring professions’), assaults and accidents. People who have experienced an adult onset trauma benefit from all the approaches that survivors of childhood trauma do, and can respond to cognitive based approaches.
I use a three stage trauma processing model, which is widely recognised as best practice (eg ASCA Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Complex Trauma, 2012). This approach emphasises the need to ensure clients reach a stage of safety and stability and have skills to regulate and contain themselves, before processing trauma memories in therapy. This phased approach is respectful of client pace and gentler than rushing exposure and memory processing, which may cause undue distress to the survivor. I work with the client to ensure we are able to pace therapy to avoid overwhelm.
Although our brains are affected by trauma (particularly if the trauma occurred in childhood and was repeated), the human brain is also very capable of healing. Research now validates the role of therapy in healing complex trauma. Over the years I have seen many people heal and flourish after therapy, despite very difficult and traumatic experiences. It is immensely rewarding to be part of this journey.