From Research to Practice to Fiction

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Since the early Nineties, I’ve been passionate about the wonderful women and men I met in my private practice who went on the sometimes odious path of recovery from childhood abuse. I’m sure if people knew how many obstacles they have to climb and how many hoops they have to jump through, many would think recovery is not possible.

But it is!

I’ve seen it many, many times. Never have I seized to be amazed by the courage and determination I’ve seen in survivors. That determination and courage spoke of Life’s force to be whole and healthy.

It wasn’t an easy decision to take my shindle off my door and retire. But it was time for me. My body told me, enough is enough. Looking back over the last five years in retirement, I know never again to ignore the wisdom of my body.

I became a writer. Well, maybe I always was, writing stuff in here for the last 11 years. After a wee detour into writing romance novels–I never would have learned about writing without the amazing women in my Wellington romance writers group and the NZ romance writer’s conference–I’m now writing about Elise, a woman with multiple personalities, who fights for her sanity and freedom as she’s framed for murder.

It’s fiction… made up, but certainly partially based on my experiences over the many years in my private practice. I’ve seen the struggles, witnessed the inner fights. My aim is to write Elise’s story from a point of authenticity, that is rarely found in the writing, fiction or non-fiction, about MPD. Maybe that way I can contribute to change the strange picture that is still painted about people with multiple personalities.

The characters of the book started their own website a few days ago and told me I’m not allowed to interfere. I hope all goes well and cross my fingers! You can check it out here!

I’m interested in gathering a small group of people with intimate knowledge about the struggles and joys multiplicity brings to read through my chapters and tell me where I’m off track and, hopefully, where I’m spot-on. If that is you, please email me, using the contact form.

That’s me for now. It’s almost Christmas, and I wish you a safe, peaceful holiday. Take Care!

 

New Beginnings

plantIn my preparation for coming ‘back to work’ I glanced through old comments and notifications and found a comment left in 2008 “How do I know I am with the right therapist”? I don’t know how I answered back then, but today I thought “What an interesting question”. How do therapists/counsellors know that they are right for a particular client, and how do clients know that they are with the right therapist?

Often both clients and therapists fall prey to the assumption that therapy is the only path to recovery and/or that therapy with a particular therapist is the only path to healing. This is a dangerous assumption. Let’s not forget, the client is doing the healing, not the therapist. The capacity of the seed to become a fully grown, healthy plant is within he plant, not with he gardener. He or she is only providing an environment in which that growth can accelerate. When the seed is not growing the gardener has failed to provide the appropriate environment.

Unfortunately there are plenty of therapy models that base the lack of progress in therapy on shortcoming in the client: s/he is either in denial, avoidant, hostile, has a negative transference, is lacking trust, or (my favorite one) NOT READY. And although that might all be present in the client, it is the therapist’s job to provide the right environment for that to be addressed. That’s the therapy. If clients wouldn’t have these negative symptoms, they wouldn’t need a therapist.

It might be useful to revisit what a therapeutic alliance is. Judith Herman writes in her book trauma and recovery p.134 and 147

the relationship between survivor and therapist is one relationship among many. It is by no means the only or even the best relationship in which recovery is fostered…Though the therapeutic alliance partakes of the customs of everyday contractual negotiations, it is not a simple business arrangement. And though it evokes all the passions of human attachment, it is not a love affair or a parent-child relationship. It is a relationship of existential engagement, in which both partners commit themselves to the task of recovery.

I read that interpretation and think of compassion, care, respect, understanding, and appreciation. If we (therapists and clients) can make that happen as best as we can and as often as possible, we are having a good thing going and growth can take place.

Coming back to the above question of how to know that you are with the right therapist my response is: when you are starting to feel better, think better, and function better. I personally don’t believe in the old saying “…it has to get worse before it can get better”. I think that is a tragic ‘invention’ of a pessimist who got hold of the fact that many people have to hit rock bottom before they act against their habitual beliefs. But it is by no means a law of nature. Things can actually get better starting NOW.

So, how do therapists/counsellors know that they are right for a particular client, and how do clients know that they are with the right therapist? I would love to hear your thoughts on that 🙂

Hearing Voices: From The Inside Out

This is a lovely 14 minute clip of Eleanor Longden describing her journey from a perceived madness to recovery. Besides any doubts we may have of her diagnosis of schizophrenia, her process of recovery sounds very much like recovery from DID. Take care, take faith, and take hope.

Moving Past Sexual Abuse Group Starting Soon

Raeburn House, Auckland, New Zealand, is running another Moving Past Sexual Abuse group. In the past the group was organised as a support group in which participants would be surrounded by survivors who understood their experiences and sharing one’s stories and supporting each other was the strongest emphasis.

This new Moving Past Sexual Abuse group is about discovering ways of how to leave the abuse and the legacies of the abuse behind oneself. Rather than concentrating on what happened in the past the emphasis is on having a life worth living NOW, today, and the days to come.

You will be shown how it is possible to regain control and reconnect with joy, wisdom, and peace of mind. You will find that the capacity to live in wellness has always been dormant within you waiting for you to connect with it. The Moving Past Abuse group is geared to help you realise that potential!

You can expect that we will address how to deal with anger, difficult emotions, social connections, relationships with self and others, depression, perceptions, thought, and in general how not to be ruled by the past.

Here are the starting dates and details:

When: Mondays, 8 weeks, Starts 30 July
Time:·7:00pm – 9:00pm
Total Cost: $80
Facilitator: Gudrun Frerichs
Venue: Raeburn House, 138 Shakespeare Road, Milford

For more information contact Raeburn House, phone: (09) 441 8989 or emaillearning@raeburnhouse.org.nz.

Find more interesting groups run by Raeburn House by going to their website.

New: Moving Past Sexual Abuse Seminar

Raeburn House is running again a sexual abuse survivor group. In previous years the survivor groups were ongoing support groups that accommodated survivors to attend for several terms. They were designed following the three stages of Judith Herman’s model described in Trauma and Recovery (1992). Since then our understanding of recovery has evolved and the new group will take place with an emphasis on learning rather than sharing one’s experiences.

We will explore the three principles that are behind our psychological experience so that people can overcome the debilitating symptoms often found in the aftermath of sexual abuse. That involves gaining an understanding of how our feelings are created, how to deal with low moods, how to discern between low quality of thinking and high quality of thinking, and how to cope/deal with distressing feelings.

When: Wednesdays, 8 weeks, Starts 2 May 2012
Time:·12:30pm – 2:30pm
Total Cost: $60
Facilitator: Gudrun Frerichs
Venue: Raeburn House, 138 Shakespeare Road, Milford

To enrol contact Raeburn House directly on (09) 441 8989 or email learning@raeburnhouse.org.nz.

So Simple – So Powerful

I have lately written a number of posts that reflected my understanding of the 3 Principles. I posted the trailer here for those who might be interested in getting an idea what this is all about. My understanding is still at a beginner’s level – yet as it deepens more and more, things make sense to me now that have been puzzling me as long as I can remember. For example:

How come I can look at clients and see the beautiful, good, and caring persons while they can see only ugliness, broken-ness, and fault when they look in the mirror?

We are both looking at the same person. The only difference is how we both think about him or her.

How come recovery leaps ahead when people realise abuse wasn’t their fault, that they are OK, that they are capable etc.?

The difference is the shift in thinking. Letting go of the habitual thinking from (early) childhood and looking with love and compassion at oneself through uncontaminated spectacles enables the shift.

I could come up with many more examples. What stays with me this morning as I am writing this is the importance of looking at oneself (and I mean all parts of oneself) with deep love and compassion, knowing that at any point in time people do the best they can with the resources they have and under the circumstances they are under. Knowing that deep inside every person is a part that is whole, resilient, and unbreakable. You may call is soul, or spirit, or something else altogether – it is there and it is magnificent!

Moving Past Sexual Abuse Support Group

The next sexual abuse survivor support group with the focus on moving past sexual abuse and creating a life worth living will start on:

Thursday, 28th of July 2011, 7PM – 9 PM
Raeburn House, Takapuna

The group runs for 8 weeks – there is space for 2 more people to join. In the past the cost has been $45 for the 8 weeks. For more information and/or enrolment contact Raeburn House, phone: (09) 441 8989 or email learning@raeburnhouse.org.nz.

 

Letter To My Younger Self

Today I came across a lovely blog post from a fellow blogger. The title was “Letter to My Younger Self”. I became curious to see what Rachel (the blogger) wrote. (The post is no longer life anymore.) Those of you who know me will understand that: I hold the strong belief that a big part of the recovery journey is to find a place of compassion, love, understanding, respect, and appreciation for the younger SELF who managed to cope with the abuse.

When I make this statement I hear frequently “Yes, maybe, BUT see how much I am struggling, see how much I am in pain, see how difficult it is to reverse the dissociation”. The way the younger Self coped is creating a whole lot of problems today.

My counter-argument is usually: The younger You coped with something horrendously difficult and confusing the best way s/he could. S/he did so with the limited resources and understanding a child has; often with barely any support. You can now, as an adult, make the necessary changes.

However, the first step is to give recognition to the child in the form of love, care, respect, understanding, appreciation. It won’t be long until one by one your problems will start melting away.

Survivors are coming together and speak out

SOSA NZ media release 9 June 2010

The government appointed Independent Review Panel for ACC’s contentious new Clinical Pathway join others at SOSA’s (Survivors of Sexual Abuse) invitation for June 20th inaugural Summit at AUT North Shore Campus.

This gives survivors the opportunity to have their say about what services they need from ACC, as well as have fun, be inspired and pampered, take back power, find their voices and unite. 

“Its about time survivors had their say,” says the initiator of this important day, Dr Gudrun Frerichs, “The NZ government and ACC are part of the silencing by relying heavily on the medical profession and labelling us mentally ill. If we don’t fit the diagnosis, they are washing their hands of us while our perpetrators get unlimited help and counselling in prison programmes or the SAFE Network.” 

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