As a trauma-informed counsellor, I adopt an integrative approach in my therapeutic work to meet my clients' unique individual needs and preferences. In my view, no one is the same and there is no 'one size fits all' approach.
My counselling framework is largely underpinned by psychodynamic, trauma-informed and neuroscience understanding. I believe who we are today is largely influenced by our early experiences in life and which, in turn affect our functioning in the present world.
I see various presenting issues and symptoms as an adaptation to the unresolved issues of the past. As such, in order to achieve true therapeutic results the focus of therapy is on identifying the unresolved issues, helping clients resolve and gain insight on how these issues are affecting their present state, and learning skills that will improve their over-all functionality.
I believe the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and client is central to the success of therapy. Henceforth, it is fundamental in my practice that I provide a therapeutic environment that is based on the following key elements:
Safety . Trustworthiness . Choice . Collaboration .
Hope . Empowerment .
I draw from a wide range of evidence-based therapeutic approaches and I consider all dimensions of self: bio-psycho-social-spiritual. I incorporate body-based talk therapy and trauma-informed expressive art therapy into the traditional talk therapy including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Internal Family Systems in my therapeutic approaches. However, I understand that there is no one size fits all modality. There are clients who prefer to do short-term work and solution-focused therapy would be a better approach in this case.
Recovery is a journey. A journey that is full of ups and downs. At times it feels like taking two steps forward and one step back. It is never linear. It is unique to each individual.
Body-based Talk Therapy
We now understand that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also an imprint that is left in the mind, brain and body. The body continues to respond as if the danger is everpresent even after the events are over. Trauma has encoded itself within our brains, nervous systems, and bodies, beyond where traditional therapy and emotional expression can impact us.
With this understanding, I draw heavily on Janina Fisher's trauma model in my work with trauma clients. Janina Fisher's trauma approach brings together techniques from leading, evidence-based methods, including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, mindfulness, psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.
This trauma model helps to identify and overcome client's post-traumatic triggers, repair deep attachment wounds, help with harmful coping strategies such as substance abuse and self-harming practices, and address overwhelming emotions like shame, anger, anxiety, fear, and depression.
Truth be told, the past is stable. What happened, happened.
No matter what we do in therapy, no one can change history. How it is remembered, how it is reported, how it is felt or interpreted, how we regard it, and different viewpoints can all change, but the facts of the past are permanent. We can not change the past, no matter how hard we try or how good our tools. It is just not possible.
The past is, literally, out of our control... The good news is, we can change the effect the past continues to have on ourselves now and in the future. This is really the aim of trauma recovery...
- Babette Rothschild -
Trauma-Informed Expressive Art Therapy
Trauma-informed expressive arts therapy is a model that integrates current best practices in trauma-informed care with what is known about how the expressive arts and play assist in trauma reparation and integration.
The use of expressive art therapy multiply the avenues by which clients may seek meaning, clarity and functions. Expressive art therapy does not require any art ability as the focus is on the process of creating rather than on the artistic outcomes.
Expressive art therapy provides sensory-based experiences which allow clients to communicate aspects of memories and stories that may not be readily available through conversation.
Trauma-informed expressive art therapy is focused on supporting self-regulation and co-regulation, identifying and repairing the body's responses to trauma, helping clients recover a sense of well-being internally and in relationships with others, and enhancing clients' capacity for resilience and personal strength.
I draw on Cathy Malchiodi's Trauma-Informed Expressive Art Therapy training in my work with clients.