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  • Louise Coughlin

My clients are amazing

I am sometimes in awe of the amazingness of my clients. Being able to tell a relative stranger of some of the most difficult events in your life is not by any stretch of the imagination easy. People who had held onto traumas for years, having either never told anyone, or only a select few what has happened to them in their life. I am humbled to be the person that my clients feel safe to talk to. Myself, the York Clinic, the therapy room, we are where this is safely contained. A place to talk freely, without judgement.

Traumas are not always obvious, sometimes when clients comes to see me they have a sense that things are not right in their life but they do not know the reason why. Other times clients come because of an event that they recognise as a trauma. Traumas come in all shapes and sizes. Traumas are known as Big Ts and Little ts. Big T traumas are the events most commonly associated with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) such as sexual violence, life threatening experiences, experience of war zones, or serious injury. Big Ts can affect people who witnessed such events or were close to the survivors of such events. Little t traumas are highly distressing events that affect individuals on a personal level but don’t fall into the Big T category. Examples of little t trauma include non-life-threatening injuries, relationship breakdown, conflict at work, bullying, harassment (unless met with threats of death or harm in which case this may be a Big T) or death of a pet. We all handle these events differently, what is highly distressing to one person may not cause the same emotional response in someone else. I find that many of my clients have experienced little ts but consider themselves a fraud because they do not think their traumas are as significant as other people's. What is important is how the traumas people experience, whether a Big T or a little t, impacts on them. If the event causes distress then getting support to deal with this is about being kind to yourself, and about being able to move towards what you want to achieve in life.

A client asked me yesterday how much I benefitted from each client I worked with. An interesting question that got me thinking. I am not immune to traumas, I have experienced both Big Ts and little ts. I have sat on the side of the client and I have dealt with what I needed to. I do get triggered, and I do have to unhook myself from my thoughts at times. Each client I work with gives me a whole new insight. I might use some similar techniques with different people but how this is interpreted or implemented is so unique to the individual. This helps me see the tools I help clients with in a different way. Therefore I think with each and every client I develop both as a person and as a psychologist. I read somewhere that you should never trust a therapist who has not needed therapy (I suppose just like the saying never trust a skinny cook!). I think there is some truth in that, traumas are all around us and most people would benefit from support to deal with these, why would psychologists, or counsellors be any different?

Back to being in awe of my clients - thank you for trusting me.

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