by Penny Boreham, Intake Manager
In this new occasional series of psychotherapy testimonials we hear from those who have received treatment at both Khiron House’s residential and day clinics. They share their thoughts and reflections about their experience of attending the clinics and more generally about their healing and recovery.
This is an extract from one interview with a former client at Khiron House’s residential clinic. You can hear the full audio interview on our testimonials page.
The interview with “H” was conducted by Penny Boreham.
H: I remember first going into treatment, and naturally it is daunting and I was just trying to find my feet, thinking who are these people [the other people in treatment] and why are they here .. and they’re a bit weird .. and of course not looking at myself..!!
And the idea of sharing a room [in the residential clinic]- I wasn’t happy about that – but actually that was a real benefit as I have gained lifelong friends from sharing a room, but also from a nervous system point of view it is very good to be around other people who are striving to improve themselves. We are fellow “traumates”, there were some fun times, but the bottom line is it is serious work, it is about healing and change, working with therapists to do that on a daily basis .
Penny: Was there one particular therapy that resonated with you ? or was it the whole, every part of it ?
H: There are obviously things I loved, but I think the thing about trauma is it is not simple, it works on different levels, you can’t just do one element – EMDR for instance.. without the others [i.e. auxiliary therapies and Somatic Experiencing]. What has helped me was working with the body, but working with the mind too – and the spiritual element helps me to stay hopeful and to keep changing and filling that hole that so many of us try to fill through addiction
Penny: Do you feel your mind is playing out in your body, and your body in your mind?
H: I think they work together. From my own experience I think that the body leads the mind a little bit, because I did have trauma stuck in my body and when I was scared I looked to project it on to the nearest thing that might be scary. So it’s learning to have the awareness in my brain but be able to tell my body that my body is ok, if that makes sense? One of my main resources is learning to be grounded and in the ‘now’.
Penny: What did you find most useful for grounding?
H: I did mindfulness and meditation practice. Ask [the staff at Khiron House] what I was like around meditation and mindfulness, at the beginning! I wouldn’t turn up, I would fall asleep, I didn’t want to be in there, I had such a saboteur on board and it was so difficult to be still. I still find that when I am ‘still’ feelings come up and I would rather avoid that.
One thing that happens [at Khiron House] in all the groups is that we start with a body scan and then we begin– it helps us to be in the present. You notice the energy in the room change. The group is anxiety provoking and so this helps.
Penny: How did you find the SE (Somatic Experiencing) ?[Sensorimotor psychotherapy had not at the time of H’s stay been introduced at Khiron House]
H: In terms of SE, for me, it was about trying to create a safe environment … my environment was so unsafe my body found it very difficult. I am now more present to life. The one main thing I feel it has all given me is compassion and love. I used to hate the word love and compassion , I thought it was hippy talk, but being able to be in my body and working with the mind, using the Pia Mellody work in Khiron House, I have more love for people. It was never like that before. I never did that -it’s harder for me to say the word love than talk about my trauma. Going into [my] body, opening, working with the trauma that is so deeply rooted as I have complex trauma – it has all been incredibly beneficial.
Penny: What is the response from people when you tell them about the treatments you have benefited from at Khiron House? Do they know about these body referencing treatments?
H: No they don’t. I really do think people are thinking cognitively.. they are so happy they have got CBT in the NHS and I say NO…..but that’s just my opinion.
It is not just body work but it is working with the mind and also spiritually. A lot of people don’t want to do the whole spiritual thing, and that is ok, but as long as they do the mind and the body thing .. When I speak to my friends from the Eastern side of the world they get it .. they know all about mindful meditation and being ‘in’ the body.. I think we are a bit naive and behind times here.
The general gist I get [from my friends] is that I am calmer and more grown up. That’s the thing about trauma – when a trauma happens it gets trapped in the body, so I have grown up being quite a young person. Everybody has something traumatic in their life … I was very young in treatment and even now I am still growing up – that is healing and recovery.
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