Most people would agree that working through the traumatic memories of abuse and neglect is one of the main pathways that lead to co-consciousness. However, trauma work does not stop once a memory has been shared with the therapist and its meaning has been interpreted in a new way. Trauma work also means to restore self-capacities that were arrested or did not develop. Take for example a memory that led to the part holding it coming to the conclusion “You can’t trust people” and acts accordingly.
Within the therapeutic relationship, that particular part is given the opportunity to learn to trust. Usually the therapist is the first person that is trusted. It often starts out with showing a little bit of trust – some call it rather a leap of faith than trust – that over time grows stronger and stronger. How well and how much trust grows really depends to a large degree on the therapist’s actions. All qualities of ‘good therapists’ described in other posts on this blog come into it: understanding, listening, respecting, caring, supporting, valuing, accepting, being predictable, reliable, and approachable.
By being able to talk about the ‘hard times’ over and over again and being more and more able to cope with the different memories, Multiples learn distress tolerance skills. I aim to take time at the end of each session to summarise what has been talked about or disclosed and share that with the ‘client’ when not she but one of the younger parts has done the work in the session. As the client becomes more and more used to the material and accepting of what happened, my summary becomes more detailed.
I also ‘prescribe’ that s/he talks to the parts inside for information about what has been shared in the session. It may not be possible immediately because ‘Fort Knox’ is too protected, but it re-enforces the notion that internal communication is possible. I also encourage parts who have processed a traumatic memory to seek and get support from other parts they know of. Equally I challenge parts to paying attention to other parts hurting and coming to their support, thereby increasing the connection and communication amongst each other.
All of this enables not only co-consciousness but also self-capacities to grow and the Multiple becomes more self-confident, has more respect for her/himself, and feels more esteemed by people around them. By the way, the process described here is the same for trauma survivors, whether you are a Multiple or not.