GP specialist in Trauma Counselling & Therapy
Effective Trauma Therapy Whilst working with a wide range of conditions, Robert’s special interest is helping individuals & families who have been impacted by trauma or adversity to re-establish a sense of safety and predictability in everyday life, providing up-to-date therapeutic care as they rebuild and renew their lives.
Traumatic Stress Disorders range from simple to complex. Simple post-traumatic-stress usually arises from a single traumatic event whereas complex post-traumatic-stress arises from multiple or ongoing traumatic events.
People with complex post-traumatic-stress due to childhood trauma or neglect, or due to wartime experiences, require intensive and longer term therapy in order to deal effectively with their trauma. These people are dealing with the intrusion into their lives of traumatic memories including ‘flashbacks’ and nightmares, dissociation, and difficulty controlling emotions and arousal level. Even experiences or stimuli not directly related to the trauma can trigger traumatic memories and lead to severe disturbances of everyday functioning including the regulation of emotion, sleep and self-experience.
In terms of self-experience, people with frequent intrusion of traumatic memories – many of which are not recognised as memories (but are often experienced as inexplicable painful or unbearable feelings) often do not ‘feel themselves’ and often feel that they have lost their sense of themselves or of being ‘me’.
People diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) very often (in 80% of cases) have a history of childhood trauma or neglect. A study by Hermann and Van der Kolk (1987) showed that more than half of all BPD patients had histories of severe sexual or physical abuse starting before the age of 6. These people often present with symptoms of complex PTSD and with severe disturbances of their self-experience.
Treatment for Simple PTSD is reasonably straight-forward.
Treatment for Complex PTSD requires intensive and longer term therapy. Therapy or counselling can be thought of as phase-oriented and involves first creating a sense of safety in everyday life which includes various means of regulating emotion and sleep. Later phases of treatment involve the integration of traumatic memories and eventually (in complex conditions) the integration of the personality.
People who have suffered trauma or neglect become scared of strong feelings including emotions and have often learned various ways – including dissociation – of getting away from their bodies and strong bodily feelings including emotions.
Dr Robert Dawborn uses a number of different theoretical approaches in the treatment of trauma which include process-oriented psychology and self psychology. Robert uses mindfulness, process-meditation and body-oriented approaches to help people to gradually ‘get back into their body’ and into their ‘moment by moment’ lived experience – so that traumatic experiences can be processed and integration of dissociated aspects of the personality can occur. Process work, body-oriented and meditation approaches combined with an understanding of “self-theory”and systems theory is very helpful and effective in doing this work.