Working With Clients who Have PTS

Do you ever get a word or phrase stuck in your head like the words of a song? This week the phrase "paradigm shift" kept coming into my mind. If you've read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change written by Stephen Covey and first published in 1990, you'll know that Covey talks a lot about what he calls Paradigm Shifts. It's when we change how we view the world. For example when we change our belief about something we have always believed to be true. The example Covey uses is when he was critical of the behaviour of a guy on the tube and his unruly children. He had a dramatic paradigm shift from criticism to empathy when he realised the children's mother had just died and the guy just didn't know what to say to them.

I'd been working with two PTSD clients for a number of weeks. The work was going well, the therapeutic relationship was strong and I felt we we're dong good work. BUT, they both still had distressing symptoms that we're destroying their quality of life. They we're plagued by sleeplessness, flashbacks and involuntary recall. One client also had panic attacks triggered by seemingly disconnected situations or sounds. I was desperate to help them, particularly as the work was time limited. I started to check out the internet for resources and came across a YouTube video by Dr Muss explaining the technique. That was the beginning of my paradigm shift! I talked to my clients about the technique, trained with Dr Muss and both clients became my first Rewind successes. The results we're absolutely amazing and I got great testimonials from both of them. I'm always authentic with clients so they knew that it was a technique I'd not been keen on originally. I've thought a lot about what brought about the paradigm shift. Maybe because I was seeking something to help my clients, maybe because I was trained by Dr Muss whose passion and belief in the technique is palpable or maybe it was the combination of a multitude of different circumstances that changed my perception. When have you had a paradigm shift?

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One of the things that I notice about Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), is that when people talk to me about a trauma they've experienced, It's quite common for them to say something along the lines of "X, Y, Z happened to me before and that didn't bother me at all, so why can't I deal with this situation without hep?"

Embedded in that question is the belief, whether conscious or otherwise, that something must be wrong with you if you need help or support to recover from a traumatic event. This belief can be even more ingrained for people in the helping professions, for example police or prison officers. I wouldn't like to be as rude as to say these professions have a macho culture but I'm just saying that I notice that it can be particularly difficult for some professions to seek support. There can be lots of unhelpful shoulds and musts floating around. There is a time and a place for this kind of behavior. You should brush your teeth after meals and you must look both ways before crossing the road. But you probably get my meaning, masturbating doesn't help when we're finding we've got difficult thoughts or feelings after a traumatic event. It's more likely to stigmatize people who seek help and encourage unhelpful strategies like avoidance. Avoidance shows itself in many forms including

  • trying not to think about an event
  • avoiding certain people or places
  • Drinking, eating, or whatever to block out feelings
  • behaving like you're fine when you know you're not

When I'm helping someone with PTS one of my first tasks is to normalise their experience and offer information to help them understand what's happening psychologically and emotionally. I also like to explore how any previous traumas we're dealt with. Sometimes I conclude that the previous trauma was avoided rather than dealt with and has now resurfaced and is adding it's weight to the current situation. Whatever the case, PTS is distressing and can impact on home and work life. It's important to visit your GP if you think you may have PTS or seek help from a therapist trained to work with trauma. Therapists trained by Dr David Muss of the Association for Rewind Trauma Therapy all help people recover from their symptoms fast using the Rewind Technique. Here's a brief quote from someone I worked with recently about Rewind.

"The day you suggested Rewind Therapy, I thought you we're mad, but we agreed to give it a go! Mo, it's the best decision made, it changed my life from that day"

So now you know, dealing with a traumatic event 'easily' on one occasion but struggling the next time something happens simply means you're human! Drop me a line at or enter a comment below if you need more help or information about Post Traumatic Stress.

Daily Prompt: The Normal. Is being "normal" ~ whatever that means to you ~ a good thing or a bad thing? Or is it even a thing at all? In the therapy and coaching world this comes up a lot. People so often come into a session or seek help because they think that what they are feeling or the way they are behaving isn't "normal". In reality sometimes what they are feeling is a 'normal' reaction to an abnormal situation. For example when someone has symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) following a traumatic event. Or if someone has suffered an unexpected or even an expected bereavement.

Normal has a range as well doesn't it? So what is perfectly normal behaviour, thoughts or feelings for one person in one situation will be completely different to the range of behaviour, thoughts or feelings for a second but they will still be normal. Who is it that decides what's normal anyway? I guess it's based on what most people say, do, feel or think. It's also culturally determined and norms change with the times.

One of the things that I often debate with my peers, friends or just with myself if there is no one around (you may be thinking here that debating with myself isn't entirely normal but there you go . . . ), is the public perception of counselling versus coaching. I often get the sense that many people think that people who go to counselling aren't quite normal, whereas I never really get this idea from people about coaching. In my view both counselling and coaching are normal activities that help, motivate, inspire and support normal people. However, it really is quite common that people think they will be stigmatised if they admit going to see a therapist. Sad, because that sometimes stops people from getting the help and support they're looking for in order to turn their life around.

It's also interesting that some people really want to be perceived as normal, while the rest of us want to be seen as different and to stand out from the crowd. I like to think of myself as unique both as a person and as a therapist and coach. In fact I believe that we all are unique. I don't think that's actually a belief really is it?, it's a fact. We are all unique and see the world in our own unique way. That doesn't mean that we can't appreciate another person's perspective but it does mean that it's probably best if we hold our version of what 'normal' means very lightly.

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Posted in Mental Health Post Date 11/07/2020






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