How Harvey can help you better understand and help your clients with complex trauma
My clinical practice as an LPCC is devoted to helping individual adult clients heal their childhood trauma. I offer a consultation service to other therapists who are working with clients who present with non-trauma issues, but who resist, obstruct or stagnate in therapy because of their childhood trauma. In these cases, consultation may be able to help you get your client to open up and participate or become unstuck. My fee for consultation is $150 for 50 minutes.
Trauma during childhood development manifests in adulthood in ways that include distorted thinking; emotional over or under reaction; anxiety; phobias; panic attacks; low self-esteem; shame; depression – often with insomnia; substance addictions; behavioral addictions; social avoidance behaviors with loneliness; repetition of painful, unsuccessful relationship patterns; negative self-talk; imposter syndrome; non-suicidal self-harm; suicidal thinking; and even suicide attempts. These adult consequences of childhood trauma can complicate or even derail efforts by therapists who are not trained to ask about it, spot it or help the client process it and resolve it.
For example, they can make working with one partner in a couple seeking your help with their relationship or a custody dispute incredibly difficult and frustrating. They can obstruct all the efforts of a therapist using gold standard behavioral treatments for addictions or OCD. They can block progress in helping clients with generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder using evidence-based methods that are normally applicable and effective such as CBT.
Childhood trauma is what makes some clients so difficult to help. First, it makes these clients feel unsafe and unable to trust others, including their therapists. Second, the client may lack awareness of her traumatic past due to denial, repression, dissociation or even splitting. Childhood trauma is like an invisible hydra-headed monster. It can account for therapy-avoidant behaviors that therapists are trained to see as simple defensiveness or resistance. Examples include a client pattern of not showing up for sessions, cancelling at the last moment without an adequate excuse, not wanting to discuss certain issues, telling stories to avoid treatment goals, falling asleep during sessions or ghosting a therapist who gets uncomfortably close to the client’s traumatic past. Childhood trauma can account for why a given client has seen many previous therapists for a particular issue but never improved. It can also explain why a client quits therapy early on for no apparent reason, making you doubt your competence. In these situations, it may be that you, the therapist, happen to remind the client of the parent who maltreated her.
If you are having an extra hard time helping a client and you believe or suspect that your client may be concealing her traumatic past to keep herself safe in therapy or that she is dissociated from her trauma and is not aware of it, I would be happy to consult with you and give you helpful ideas on how to proceed.