Facing up to your traumatic experiences, with support

Blog Post – 14th October 2021

By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

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Current stress problems – which are intense or difficult to resolve – can be signs of deep, early developmental trauma

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Jim Byrne, Dr of Counselling, does health coachingI have spent more than twenty-three years working with counselling clients with some degree of trauma, from childhood or later periods of their lives. Sometimes this showed up in the present as problems in couple relationships; or problems controlling anger, anxiety or depression.

Over the years, I developed a number of powerful strategies for helping my counselling and therapy clients to process, complete and get beyond their stored, traumatic experiences, from childhood or later in their lives.

I have written my experience up in the form of a self-help book, so that individuals can help themselves to process their traumatic pains, without the need for costly counselling and therapy.

However, there is one aspect of early childhood trauma which cannot be done on the basis of reading my book. At the end of Chapter 1 of my book, I wrote this:

Hardback Trauma book, cover1“…, There is one thing we cannot do in this book, and that is to help you to work on your interpersonal relationships in order to achieve secure attachment.  Appendix C, on self-assertion and maintaining your personal boundaries, will help you to some degree to begin to recover your sense of having rights to fair treatment. But it will also be important to make sure you either become securely attached to an intimate partner; or some very good friends who have been through therapy themselves. And/or to begin to see a good, recommended, Attachment Therapist; and/or somebody who practices Developmental Trauma Therapy (DTT), which was created by Dr Bessel van der Kolk.

Nevertheless, if you work with the strategies outlined in this book, combined with some healthy social relating, you will be able to recover from your childhood trauma, no matter how severe it might have been.

Good luck with your journey of recovery!

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Here is a quick insight into the approach I have developed:

The concept of Traumatic Dragons, and the process of healing

1, A New Dragons Trauma book coverTraumatic memories are painful, and so the vast majority of people are highly reluctant to face them down. To suggest to most people that they should revisit their traumatic memories would seem to be a form of madness; a kind of masochism on the part of the traumatized individual, and a form of sadism on the part of the trauma therapist. Why face up to a dragon when you can hide?!?

To ask them to turn around and face back (and ‘walk back’) through their history, reviewing the things that were done to them that made them most fearful, miserable, unhappy, stressed, anxious, horrified, shamed, guilty, and ragefully angry, must seem quite perverse to some people.

And yet, that can be an important part of the healing process; provided:

Initial requirements:

  1. That enough time has elapsed for some distancing to take place – which is not a problem for an adult revisiting their childhood abuse history. (The minimum gap that I recommend for trauma therapy is at least two years between trauma and therapy!)
  2. That they have done some form of body work, such as yoga, tai chi, judo, karate; or therapeutic massage, Feldenkrais, or craniosacral therapy; etc., to help to heal the body memories of their trauma – (including body-armouring and chronic tension);
  3. That they have been able to develop new perspectives upon human behaviour, and human experience, since the time of their abuse. This includes experience of re-framing (or re-interpreting) negative experiences – including the kind of re-framing taught in this book. (If their basic perceptions are still the same as they were when the trauma occurred, then revisiting their traumatic memories will simply prove to be a form of re-traumatizing themselves!)
  4. That they feel they have recovered the capacity to relate intimately and securely to at least one other person;
  5. That they are living with somebody they trust; who has agreed to support them if they become overwhelmed by grief or shame or some other difficult emotional state; or that they have a trauma therapist who will assist them over the phone or Skype;
  6. That they have the mental space to do this difficult work; and that they are not too busy, or too stressed by their current life circumstances, to take on this extra burden;

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Hardback Trauma book, cover1This book could help you to resolve some of your own traumatic experiences, or it could help you to help somebody else to recover.

To see the book on Amazon, please go to Amazon eBook on Trauma.***

But for more information about this book, please go to ABC Bookstore: Traumatic Dragons book.***

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I hope you find this information interesting and helpful.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Email: Dr Jim Byrne.***

Joint Director:  ABC Bookstore Online UK

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cropped-dr-jim-counsellor-therapist-hebden-bridge.jpgPostscript: If it is too difficult for you to contemplate working through this self-help book, then I can help you in face-to-face counselling, or over Skype or the Telephone system, to process your stored pain.

See my main counselling services page here: https://abc-counselling.org/about-dr-jim-byrne/

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Counselling and psychotherapy for childhood trauma

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Blog post 3 – 6th August 2021

Do you need to dig up your childhood history, to resolve some current intractable problem(s)?

By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

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Introduction

Cover of Drafons book, 2012Many people do not yet know that early childhood traumatic experiences – and that could just mean having a depressed mother who could not give you the face-to-face interaction and attention that you needed for your cognitive and emotive growth and development – predisposes them to being vulnerable to adult-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Yes! It’s true. Most people who become traumatized by adult problems, like rape, mugging, house fires, plane or train crashes, are actually predisposed to having extreme reactions to highly stressful experiences, because they lack the resilience that comes from having a secure attachment to mother (and father) during their formative years[1].

I have written about these kinds of connections, between childhood trauma and adult problems, and how to resolve such problems, in my book: Transforming Traumatic Dragons: How to recover from a history of trauma – using a whole body-brain-mind approach. Revised, expanded and updated: August 2021.

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My own trauma journey

I got into helping trauma clients, using strategies I had used to rescue myself from the damage of early childhood developmental trauma.

Long before I got down to writing about the trauma problems of other people, I had to work on my own childhood trauma damage.

One of the ways that I did that was to write my own autobiographical stories about my origins and my ‘relationships’.

Beginning with my story of origins, and moving on to my story of relationship problems, I eventually found my way into attachment theory and the work of Dr Allan Schore on the traumatizing experience of disruption of early attachment bonds between mother and baby.

Metal_Dog__Long_Roa_Cover_for_Kindle (853x1280)One of the main ways I did this work was to create an ‘alter ego’ – who I called Daniel O’Beeve.  I then put Daniel into those situations through which I have lived, and which I could dredge up from my memory banks; and I observed how he got on – from the ‘outside’ – (objectification!).  I then retrieved a lot of my old traumatic nightmares, and rewrote them in a literary style.

And then I created a set of ‘alien psychologists’ who could observe Daniel’s journey, through a “wormhole in space-time”, and to make comments about how to understand what is going on in his life, in a way that Daniel and I could never have commented! (Clearly this has to be called “a fictionalized autobiographical story”; and none of the characters in this story should be confused with any real individual, living or dead!)

I published all of that work in a book called Metal Dog – Long Road Home. And this is the Amazon books description of that book:

Book description

Daniel O’Beeve was a victim of childhood developmental trauma, before anybody had even thought to conceive of such a concept.  He was a victim of abuse and neglect long before anybody gave a damn about the emotional welfare of children.

Daniel’s parents were both born into highly dysfunctional families; poor rural families that lived from hand to mouth; families who had been trained by the priests to “beat the fear of God” into their children.

Daniel’s parents did not love each other.  They had an arranged marriage, and never learned to even like each other.

When Daniel was just eighteen months old, his father lost his farm and had to move to Dublin city, to eke out an existence as a gardener. Daniel was born into this mess. Unloved and unloving; beaten and emotionally abused; he grew up with very low emotional intelligence; no capacity to make contact with another human being; and a fear of everything that moved suddenly or rapidly.

Metal_Dog__Long_Roa_Cover_for_Kindle (853x1280)He was then thrown into a city school at the age of four years, into a playground in which he was the only “culchie” (or hill billy) – in a sea of “city slickers” (called “Jackeens” by Daniel’s parents) – and this was against a backdrop of dreadful (‘racist’) antipathy between the Dublin and rural cultures in general.

In ten years of public schooling, Daniel did not make a single friend.

With no map of healthy human love, or workable human relations, he entered the world of work at the age of fourteen, like a drunk thrown out of a pub, late at night, in total darkness, mind reeling, and feelings jangled; and from this point forward he has to try to make sense of life; to make sense of relationships with girls; and to make some kind of life for himself.

For more, please go to Metal Dog – Long Road Home. Where I reveal some of the ways in which my childhood trauma affected my difficulties with trying to “got off” with a girl or woman, in a way that might possibly work. For more, please go to Metal Dog – Long Road Home.

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Dr Jim in North YorkshireIf you keep trying to clean up the mess in your life – especially your relationship life – (but you keep finding that nothing seems to change for the better) – then it might be a good idea to

– consider the possibility that you were traumatized in early childhood;

– and get down to working on those experiences, so you can “rewire your right brain” for a happier life!

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I hope this information helps.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

The Institute for Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy

ABC Bookstore Online UK

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Email: Dr Jim Byrne.***

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Endnotes

[1] Rass, E. (2018). The Allan Schore Reader: Setting the course of development. London: Routledge.

And:

Schore, A.N. (2012). ‘On the same wavelength: How our emotional brain is shaped by human relationships. Excerpts from the interview with Daniela F. Sieff (2012)’. In Rass, Eva (2018). The Allan Schore Reader: Setting the course of development. London: Routledge. Pages 20-27.

And:

Schore, A.N. (2015). Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development. London: Routledge.

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