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Why is stabilisation important for trauma therapy? EMDR, CPTSD

This article has been adapted from episode 131 of The Aspiring psychologist Podcast. If you prefer you can listen here or watch here. 


Introduction

Trauma stabilisation is a crucial step in the treatment of individuals who have experienced complex trauma. In a recent episode of the Aspiring Psychologist Podcast, Dr. Marianne Trent discussed this important topic with Aimee Shipp, a Clinical Associate Psychologist. This blog delves into their conversation, highlighting the significance of trauma stabilisation, the development of supportive programmes, and the benefits for both clients and clinicians.


What is Trauma Stabilisation?

Trauma stabilisation refers to the initial phase of trauma therapy, focusing on establishing safety and emotional stability for clients before they delve into processing traumatic experiences. This phase is essential as it lays the groundwork for more intensive therapeutic interventions. Aimee Shipp and her team have developed a service that effectively fills the gap between primary and secondary care, providing much-needed support to individuals with complex trauma.


Setting Up a Trauma-Informed Service

Aimee shared her experience of setting up a trauma-informed service during the first pandemic lockdown. Recognising a gap in the existing services, her team created a programme designed to bridge the divide between primary and secondary care. This new service focuses on collaborative work between various sectors, including primary care, secondary care, and third-sector organisations.


The Neuro-Sequential Model and Phased Approach

The service developed by Aimee and her team is based on the Neuro-Sequential Model by Bruce Perry and the phased approach to trauma therapy advocated by Judith Herman. This model emphasises a layered, formulation-driven, and trauma-informed approach. The programme includes both bottom-up and top-down processing methods, ensuring comprehensive care for clients.


Primary vs. Secondary Care

For those unfamiliar with the terms, primary care typically involves services like GP consultations and lower-level interventions, whereas secondary care requires referrals and offers more intensive support. Aimee's service aims to capture those who fall between these two levels, providing them with the necessary support and resources.


The Trauma Stabilisation Group

A key component of Aimee's service is a 12-week online trauma stabilisation group. This group offers a safe space for individuals to learn about trauma, understand their symptoms, and develop strategies to manage their emotions. The programme is primarily based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) principles but also incorporates elements of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT).


Managing Group Dynamics

One of the challenges of group therapy, especially for trauma survivors, is managing the dynamics and ensuring safety. Aimee's team provides individual sessions alongside the group therapy to address any personal concerns and to help participants feel secure. They also discuss group expectations and strategies to manage potential triggers.


Research and Evaluation

To ensure the effectiveness of their programme, Aimee and her team conduct ongoing evaluations. They collect feedback from participants and measure clinical outcomes to continuously improve the service. This research not only validates their approach but also contributes to the broader field of trauma-informed care.


Strategies for Emotional Regulation

A significant part of the trauma stabilisation group involves teaching participants strategies for emotional regulation. These include sensory self-soothing techniques, such as using calming scents or focusing on sensory experiences, which can help individuals ground themselves and manage stress.


Benefits of Sensory Experiences

Aimee highlighted the importance of sensory experiences in trauma care. Simple actions like lighting a candle or listening to soothing sounds can have a profound impact on an individual's ability to regulate their emotions. These techniques are easy to implement and can be highly effective in promoting stability.


Advice for Aspiring Psychologists

Towards the end of the podcast, Aimee shared valuable advice for aspiring psychologists. She emphasised the importance of recognising one's limits and taking care of oneself to prevent burnout. Finding joy and interest in one's work, alongside prioritising rest and self-care, are crucial for a sustainable career in psychology.


Conclusion

Trauma stabilisation is a vital step in the journey of trauma recovery. Through innovative programmes and dedicated research, professionals like Aimee Shipp are making significant strides in providing effective support for individuals with complex trauma. By understanding and implementing trauma-informed care, we can help clients achieve better mental health and improved quality of life.


For those interested in learning more about trauma stabilisation and related techniques, resources like the Feel Better Academy can be invaluable. By continuing to educate ourselves and refine our approaches, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those affected by trauma


Check out my books for Aspiring Psychologists here: https://www.goodthinkingpsychology.co.uk/my-books
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