“Trauma is really strange” by Steve Haines, art by Sophie Standing. This unusual book was recommended to me by my therapist, Claire (who has a very limited number of private clients). It’s in comic book form and explains how trauma confuses the brain and affects the body. It also suggests some simple and effective techniques to help self-regulate our body responses.
“A practical guide to Complex PTSD Compassionate strategies to begin healing from childhood trauma“. This new book by Arielle Schwartz, PhD, is really informative, helpful and hopeful. Useful for survivors and therapists alike.
“The Courage to Heal” book and Workbook co-written by Laura Davies – I used these over two decades ago. They are aimed at survivors of child sexual abuse, though some of the practical strategies and the theory are relevant to any traumatised person.
“The Body Keeps the Score – Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk. I came across this book in November 2018. It has been revelatory in helping me to understand some of the “stuckness” that has got in the way of healing.
There is a 1 hour 40 minutes video online of Bessel talking at a conference about the book. Apart from his obvious upset about the classification of trauma, he does come up with several of the key ideas of the book. I guess he’s a better therapist than speaker.
My Safeline counsellor suggested I look at Carolyn Spring’s website. Like me, Carolyn experienced extreme abuse as a child, which left her with a clinical condition called “Dissociative Identity Disorder”, or “DID”. Her site includes lots of blogs about being in “the other chair”, which are very useful for clients and therapists alike. She also provides live and online training. She has done a lot of research and her work is bang up to date. Like Bessel Van der Kolk, she emphasise the links between mind, brain and body. It is essential to be aware of the links between the different parts of a person and to help them to re-integrate their experiences in order to recognise that the abuse is, indeed, “not happening now” and is firmly in the past. Above all, Carolyn emphasises that there is always hope for healing.
One of the techniques that has helped me enormously over the past year is “Eye Movement Desentisation and Reprocessing” or “EMDR”. I have been in therapy with a clinical psychologist who has been brilliant in helping me to re-configure the smoke alarm in my brain to a “normal” setting, as it now recognises that “It’s not happening now”. I’m still working on including my body in this belief, the final and most tricky part of me to educate. EMDR works in mysterious ways. As my therapist says, using a highly technical term, “It’s magic!”
I think that it is very helpful to have had “talking therapy”, e g with a trained (or training) counsellor, before embarking on EMDR, as the groundwork I had done there enabled me to make rapid progress with the EMDR.
I have been lucky enough to live near Warwick, which is the base for a wonderful charity called “Safeline”. They have provided me with several years of one-one counselling and also Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, or ISVAs who supported me when I reported to the police. They also provide support through online services. They can be contacted at Safeline.org.uk