Multiple Pathways
A reader inquires as to how one goes about choosing the “right track” for therapy. How do you know which therapeutic methodology is right for you? Additionally: Is it important to confront traumatic memories in order to heal?
Dear Amanda, 
May I ask for your opinion? I started therapy a year ago due to trauma from childhood. I have been very overwhelmed by choices and the number of different therapy practices available. I understand that different things will work for everyone. I do get that. However how does a person know if they are on the right track? 
Also do you think it is important to process traumatic memories to be able to heal and move on?
Thank you very much for all that you do.
Best wishes,
Angela
 The Right Track

Dear Angela,

I acknowledge your courage to reach out and ask these pertinent questions. I want you to know that the act of inquiring as to the best healing pathway for you in itself is a major step! I feel it is important to recognize this and appreciate yourself for the strides you are making. When we want something better for ourselves than what we’ve had this signifies a growing sense of self-worth. You do deserve the best facilitated process for your healing! You are worth it!

I am familiar with the struggle to navigate what can feel like treacherous roads of therapeutic recovery. I openly question the ethics of mental health services. It seems to me that the burden of choosing the best psychological methodology is often carried by the person seeking services. I have to admit that this seems rather backwards to me, don’t you think?

Most of us haven’t spent 8+ years in university specializing in psychological treatment for trauma when we’re seeking support to heal from abuse. Yet we’re expected to know which form of treatment should be best for us. Or worse, a psychologist, that we find ourselves vulnerably sitting in front of, tries to convince us that their brand of healing is the BEST WAY. Many people spend years of their lives and tons of their hard earned money trying to fit the pathway of their healing into someone else’s idea of the perfect road.

I think you deserve to have a pathway tailored to FIT YOU!

I can speak to you from the standpoint of what has worked best for me and what I have seen work best for my clients. I prefer to share from a basis of knowledge rather than theorizing on what “could work” for someone else.

How do I know if I’m on the right healing track?

1. Am I safe? 

Literally, do you feel safe in your living environment and relationships? If you do not, I suggest you work on this question prior to focusing on anything else. If you need support or advice in next steps towards personal safety, please ask me or contact your local domestic violence or sexual assault centre.

2. Do I have a support network?

Recovery from abuse is an intense experience. You do not have to do it alone. I tried the solitary road and it did not work for me; I found myself alone at the bottom of many bottles, risking my life doing humanitarian service to prove I was a worthy person, and sleeping in too many strangers’ beds. When I got involved in recovery, I found a community of support that was available to me 24/7 and this is exactly what I needed. I rely on the strength and accountability of this community, my family and friends, and my Higher Power to this day.

3. Do I have the energy to do this right now? 

How long will therapy take? Healing is a long road. Anyone who claims to know exactly how long it will take you to heal or specifically how many sessions you need is probably full of shit and trying to sell you a bottle of snake-oil. I have worked with clients who suffered a single incident war trauma and after two sessions they felt fully reintegrated and have been sustainably healed. There are other clients I’ve worked with who suffered from childhood abuse, where there were also compounded incidences over time and this demanded a longer term therapeutic commitment.

The important thing to come to terms with is that it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s perfectly okay to start and stop and then start again. I can not erase the effects that abuse has had on my life, however each day I am able to live with myself in a healthier way.

4. Which therapy is right for me?

This is really the “million dollar question” isn’t it? I would love to tell you that I have the guaranteed answer for you, but I don’t and I don’t fancy myself a liar. I can tell you that working with a therapist who is licensed or certified in multiple therapeutic methodologies has been the best answer for me and is why I have personally become an integral hypnotherapist. I want to insure that I can fit myself to my clients needs rather than my clients having to fit themselves to one modality; or fit themselves to a therapist. It seems backwards to me for a client to feel the need to accommodate therapists’ limitations. The most important thing is that a therapist is able to integrate their methodologies in 4 Areas:

  1. Mental
  2. Emotional
  3. Spiritual
  4. Somatic

An additional resource I can not recommend more highly for people who are survivors of childhood sexual assault or incest is The Courage to Heal Book and Workbook. These two books have given myself and my clients a pathway and structure to traverse. I would not advise working on these 2 books without the support of a therapist and recovery community.

5. Do I have to remember to heal?

I do not believe that anyone has to re-traumatise themselves to heal. Some will have flashbacks or memories that return during the healing process. Others will want to go through the process of hypno-regression. I think the important thing is to come to a place in the healing process where you are able to accept the process as it is rather than trying to force anything. I find that whether it’s remembering or trying to forget, if I am at opposition to wherever I am in my natural healing rhythm then I am being abusive to myself. I need to love and care for myself while I heal, because isn’t that the whole point?

Again, thank you for reaching out to me and sharing your questions. I pray that I have been able to help you along your journey. Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions.

Warmth and light,

Amanda Lee

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