by Gail Hardenbergh, LICSW
I was so settled in my ways. I knew pretty much everything I ever needed to know about being an effective therapist, didn’t I?
That’s what I thought 15 years ago when my dear friend filled my head with Modern Trauma Therapy Models during a walk around Walden Pond. “I’m good,” I said. I don’t need to learn anything new.
Fast forward to diving into the deep end of the pool - taking the IFS trainings, all 3 of them. I suppose I might have taken EMDR or Sensory Motor, but I stumbled upon IFS.
So what was it like being 50 and learning something new? AWKWARD!
I didn’t find the trainings too awkward, although some very shy people did. For me they turned into an unexpected pleasure. I moved pretty quickly from “I HAVE to" take a 6 weekend training to learn this to “I GET to” take a 6 weekend training.
Initially, bringing it back to the office, to existing clients, was awkward. I’d try something with them, box myself into a corner and then switch right back to my tried and true approach. Grrr. But over time and with consultation, that resolved.
Here’s what I discovered:
These modern trauma trainings embody their teachings. I was invited to process my experiences during the training to help me learn - both to see how to help my clients and to have a better life myself. Those are quite intertwined.
Modern trauma therapy clarifies diagnoses and also makes them less pathological, much less frightening. DID feels overwhelming and terrifying if I have no idea how to interact with someone who has it. These therapies teach a way into healing being allied with clients. Most of these models use the concept of Parts to bring to discussions with clients. It begins to feel natural, even friendly.
And that same notion of Parts applies to me too. Having Parts became normalized, not pathologized. We all have them. That’s just who we all are.
What an unexpected gift.