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I'm getting ready to head into family-related trauma processing.  Trauma stuff I've done previously has related to the drug raid, car accident, and sexual abuse...I was going to start with family stuff with my last therapist when she learned she was going to move out of the area, so we put that on pause.  My current therapist and I have been revisiting some of those traumas so that he is up to speed.  That and dealing with changed diagnoses (bipolar to schizoaffective), unemployment and a new job, etc.  Lots of non-trauma things.

We're now at the point where I'm both stable and interested in trying to explore my family crap.  I think of it as emotional neglect with some emotional and verbal abuse thrown in there for the fun of it all.  Little bits of physical abuse, but only two or three times.  Predominantly neglect, but all of it applies.  I'm looking for a refresher course on technique you use when reopening old wounds.  Some that I like

1 - skating around a slippery rug (tactile grounding)

2 - paced breathing

3 - temperature adjustment (since I'm  home, I have access to ice)

4 - holding on to a comfort object (I have a stuffed dragon)

5 - counting things (pictures on the wall, etc.)

6- 3 things you see, 3 things you can touch, 3 things you hear....etc.

 

So that's a start.  What are your go to strategies?

Edited by dancesintherain
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My tdoc wanted to do EMDR with me before going to phone only because of the coronavirus.  

She told me about this visualization method for containing distressing thoughts that come up before they can be reprocessed with her.  I have no idea what it is called.  She had me imagine a containing device and named it and practiced containing something mildly distressing in it.  

I imagined a force field box with metal sides with a remote control locking mechanism and a button beside it and called it a companion cube.  She told me to practice it and it was more useful than I thought.  

I haven't actually been able to do EMDR, so I'm not sure how useful it would be for heavy stuff.

She told me about this bilateral tapping thing, too.  I think it's supposed to help with spacing out.  I like the position that she called a butterfly hug, crossing your arms and tapping your collarbone, one side at a time.

I don't know what either of these techniques are called.  They were just new things that I learned that were surprisingly helpful.  I don't think they were EMDR, just part of the stabilization beforehand.

 I like the tactile and counting grounding coping mechanisms, too.

 

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thanks Banana Smurf.  I've tried EMDR on a different trauma and unfortunately it didn't work for  me.  But I know numerous people swear by it (I'm part of a DBT facebook group and it frequently gets recommended).  I like the ideas and will see what helps. 

Thanks!

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Those techniques are called resourcing techniques. They are a part of the preparation phase of EMDR, but a lot of therapists who use other trauma therapies also use them to prepare their clients for the processing phase of treatment. Resourcing is where the therapist helps you to resource your own personal and internal strategies to help yourself when dealing with the trauma, so your reliance on others is reduced and you have more resilience towards whatever you went through and the effects of it. 

The container imagery and bilateral tapping are the most common ones, but there are others. Somatic therapies use resourcing a lot also, with body scans and breathing activities. Personally I find imagery too difficult because I can usually only picture things in my brain if I have experience with them or have seen them somewhere before, and safety isn't one of them for me, and at this point body activities are off the cards for me, I have strong boundaries towards them. 

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thanks Hopelessly Broken.  I hadn't heard the term, but it makes sense.

I actually can't visualize either.  I don't know if you've heard of i-t-- its barel known here - but I have aphantasia...the inability to visualize.  So I need to skip over those and go onto the others.  Like hte bilateral tapping and the hug. 

I was getting overwhelmed with emotions (not typical for me), so I asked my therapist for an extra session.

Edited by dancesintherain
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Yeah, aphantasia is going to be a challenge with trauma stuff. A lot of therapists rely on imagery for various aspects of treatment. I know its been a barrier for me, and I don't technically have aphantasia, just limited visual skills in that area. Good luck with finding things that do help though. 

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thanks!  I think part of it is taking things slowly.  We can--but don't have to--spend an entire session on trauma crap.  Or we can touch on it some, explore it a bit, and leave it alone for  a week.   Or at least that seems to be the approach right now.  I know about exposures/immersion and I've done them before and they helped.  But this feels like a different beast to try to slay. 

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This may seem like a bizarre question, and you don't have to answer it, but does your aphantasia impact the kind of flashbacks you have/had if you don't experience them anymore? Like, no visual flashbacks of the events? And does yours also impact your ability to recall sound, smell and touch like it does for some people with it?

I agree, family trauma stuff is different to the kind of trauma where exposures can be used, and its usually more pervasive, so I think its fairly standard to go to and from approaching it, otherwise a lot of people would be approaching it forever and be unable to approach any other issues needing therapy. 

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good question.  I'm not100% sure it's full-fledged aphantasia, but the escription made me go "yes, that's it."

I wish I could say about the flalshbacks.  They're normal to me (and consistent), but their relationship to the world is unknown to me.  I tend to get emotional and olfactory and don't get  visual, so I guess that so some degree answers the question.  I can't remember a flashback where I saw soething. 

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my last therapist called some of them intrusive memories...kind of a cross between an intrusive thought and a flashback.  She thought that I still had flashbacks, but that some of them were brief enough to think of it more as an intrusive memory visiting me rather than a full-fledged flashback. 

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