I have been providing relationship counselling and trauma therapy at Kensington and online for nearly a decade now, and even longer outside my private clinic. Although not every relationship therapy is trauma therapy, I am very passionate about the notion that every counselling psychologist and psychodynamic therapist would agree on: every trauma therapy is relationship therapy.
People who have experienced trauma, complex trauma, or emotional neglect will likely immediately see what I mean. Relationships feel fundamentally unsafe. Your therapist providing a relationship you can begin to feel safe is at the heart of trauma work.
This is not about being nice, warm, or non-judgmental as even many therapists think. It is about understanding how the relationship between client and therapist is a window into the client’s internal world the trauma they experienced.
Yes, therapies which focus on providing a procedure for processing specific traumatic memories like EMDR and and Trauma Focused CBT are very helpful for many people, but at some point both therapist and client will come across the emergence of the trauma between them. This is where psychodynamic therapies come in. My specialty is Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) which is an incredibly safe treatment for trauma. I said treatment, but actually I should also say that traumatised people do not need to be treated; they need to be related to.
Let me give you an example about what I mean that trauma work is a form of relationship counselling. Nikos invites Yvonne to tell him what is the issue she needs help with. As she begins to give him insight Nikos stops her in her tracks. Something terrible is unfolding and he intends to make a point that this is is not a place where she is going to be ignored and neglected.
Nikos points out to her that she is very anxious. Has she observed this? She seems to have noticed, yes.
Nikos then makes a simple observation.
“Yvonne, when I invited you to pay attention to yourself by letting me know what you need help with, your anxiety shot up. You then ignored this and gave me and my question priority. You made me the important one here. Do you agree with me when I say this?
It is highly likely that Yvonne will reveal a history of emotional neglect. She will likely show you how she has become used to being focused on others and ignoring and neglecting herself. Yvonne may will likely become deeply sad when she hears this.
Now, had the therapist let her go on, he would have replicated the emotional neglect that Yvonne has experienced and that she invites others to ignore and neglect her too like she did with Nikos.
I feel very passionate about this work. About the fact that whatever kind of trauma work you do, the relationship between therapist and client is at the heart of it.
If you are looking for trauma therapy, ask your therapist:
“Whatever else we do, will you be able to hold in mind that your careful and caring attention to me may be the biggest challenge I have faced so far? Because it is also my biggest longing”.
If you need some help with your inner critic get in touch by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org (if you can access Earls Court Station). 07805945233 if you’re old fashioned.
*These are not real people, but composites of clients I have met in the last 13 years.