I provide therapy in a safe and supportive atmosphere. I work from a client centred philosophy which basically means that we go at a pace that is comfortable for you. We also work on what you choose to work on. My general framework, however, is to work within the parameters of a triphasic model of therapy (Judith Herman, 1997). Complimenting this staged approach, EMDR’s 11 step protocol (Francine Shapiro, 2001) situated in 8 phases lends itself well with this staged approach.
It is within these stages that Trauma Based Approaches, CBT techniques, DBT skills and narrative conversations are utilized. These therapeutic modalities are innate within the therapeutic process.
Judith Herman determined that best practice for trauma recovery is to provide therapy in a staged framework.
Stage 1 is acknowledged as Safety and Stabilization: Overcoming Dysregulation. This stage includes psychoeducation around trauma impacts, what happens to our brain when we are confronted by a life or death situation and the survival strategies that we all have. We will work together to build on expanding your window of affect tolerance which means providing you with internal resources to help mitigate intrusive thoughts, feelings, flashbacks and nightmares. The achievement of safety includes bodily safety (manage self destructive behaviours), to make sure your living situation is safe, and to establish emotional stability, which includes the ability to calm your body, regulate impulses, self- soothe and to ground yourself and to manage triggers.
Stage 2 is conceptualized as processing the traumatic event(s). This is where the bilateral stimulation of EMDR works beautifully in metabolizing traumatic memories so that they can become ‘unstuck’ and can be integrated into all parts of the brain. You are then able to make peace with these memories. The goal is to come to terms with your traumatic past. This does not mean it was okay. What it does mean is that these traumatic memories can take their place in your history and not keep showing up unwanted overwhelming you with memories and flashbacks.
Stage 3 encompasses making meaning out of who you are now after remembering and mourning the trauma that you have been through. It is in stage 3 that a traumatized person recognizes that she or he has been a victim and understands the impacts of his or her victimization. The old beliefs that gave meaning to your life have been challenged and thus exploring who you are now and connecting deeper with those you have learned to trust are goals for this stage. Overcoming fears of normal life and the freedom and uncertainty that comes along with this, intimacy, re-education, and even possibly social action to empower yourself and/or others is the focus of stage 3. Judith Herman stated that “helplessness and isolation are the core experiences of psychological trauma. Empowerment and reconnection are the core experiences of recovery” (Herman, 1997, p. 197).