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CBT for trauma - what to expect

(8 Posts)
maybethedayafter Fri 09-Sep-16 13:49:03

I've been having CBT for around 6 weeks now. We've gone through a lot of techniques which are useful day to day but I'm still unable to accept or come to terms with the trauma of my daughter's birth and time in NICU. The therapist has said she thinks I would benefit from CBT for trauma where I will re-experience the traumatic event and attempt to see it differently. She said I should expect it to be difficult but I think this is what I need to come to terms with this as we're now nearly 3 years on and nothing else has helped. I just wonder what I can expect from this technique? Or even what it's called so I can google it and read up a bit more about it.

Thanks for any help.

irelephant Fri 09-Sep-16 17:31:30

Just giving this a bump for you op. I was on a waiting list but I never went through with it. Which is utterly no help too you I know.

maybethedayafter Fri 09-Sep-16 18:23:58

Thanks irelephant. I hope you found a way to deal with it.

user1473282350 Fri 09-Sep-16 21:32:19

Do you mean Trauma Focused CBT? That's a thing.

Or, there's also EMDR which she may be talking about.

I guess it depends if you want to relive the trauma, or you'd like to find ways to cope with it without having to relive it. I personally chose the latter option and use a differed therapy as several attempts at the former made me very ill indeed. Some people prefer the former as they are short-term solutions with good success rates.

themostinterestinglife Sat 10-Sep-16 11:44:31

I have PTSD from birth trauma. I had over a year of CBT, which did have some effect but it didn't completely resolve the issues. My constant feelings of panic reduced down to a more manageable level, but didn't completely go away. They persisted enough to still impact on daily life, albeit less severely than before the therapy. Reliving the trauma was supposed to be part of my therapy but I was instinctively very resistant to it. I had an attitude that if the experience was so dreadful the first time round, why on earth would I want to live through it again? I just wanted to forget about it, have it go away, and get back to my normal happy self. So despite my therapist's best efforts I wasn't very responsive to reliving therapy and that may have contributed to it's limited effectiveness.

What did fully deal with the trauma was EMDR. I changed therapists and they - along with other friends who had experience of this technique - recommended it. It was very quick, effective and really has restored me back to my old, happy, pre-birth, pre-trauma self in just a matter of months.

Good luck with it, do persevere with finding what's right for you. It took me eight years to recover from my birth experience but it absolutely can be done.

maybethedayafter Sat 10-Sep-16 11:53:11

In a strange way I'm not scared of reliving it, I think about it and play it over in my head all the time. It's obsessive in an attempt to try to make sense of it. Perhaps it's because there's no one event for me - it's the fact that my baby was born premature and all control, enjoyment and excitement was ripped away from me. It wasn't just about the birth it was the next 9 weeks in hospital which should have been spent at home with a newborn.

I have heard of EMDR but don't really understand the principle. Would you mind telling me a little bit more about how it works and what they do?

erinaceus Sat 10-Sep-16 13:51:30

maybe I am sorry for your trauma. I, too, know people who have been helped by EMDR. I read a bit about it and decided not try it myself.

There are other non-CBT, non-EMDR approaches that may or may not be available on the NHS. I have been treated by a combination of NHS and private psychotherapy for various issues. If your current approach is not working for you, it might be that the approach is not a good fit for you. Do you and the therapist have a mutual understanding of precisely what it is that you are trying to achieve. I find that vague terms like "come to terms with X" or "improve functioning" are not helpful to me and I do not find CBT helpful for more complicated issues. The NHS is restricted in what it can provide but there are lots of ways treat the symptoms of trauma and you might find that something different works for you.

themostinterestinglife Sat 10-Sep-16 22:39:24

EMDR was very straightforward, in my experience. My therapist did a modified version of it, because I had too many traumatic memories we could not identify any specific one that was at the root of my PTSD and associated problems. It involved me watching his hand as he passed it back and forth a foot or so in front of my eyes, while at the same time thinking of very positive past experiences and times that I had experienced the emotions and behavior that I value and wanted to regain (eg calmness, self assurance, confidence). We did this three or four times over a couple of months.

I don't fully understand how or why EMDR works; if I'm honest I'm quite bewildered and perplexed by it. I don't know how a guy waving his fingers past my eyes whilst I think happy thoughts could eliminate eight years worth of self harm, amnesia and constant feelings of panic that I may well not be alive for very much longer. But it did, so I just accept that and be thankful for it without questioning it too much. I think what made a difference was trust in my therapist. I work at a major university with a large and well run counselling service, and so just took a leap of faith that the therapists were experienced and knew what they were doing. Thankfully it did turn out that way.

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