Tag Archives: think outside the box


I got a call back from De’s old supervisor today. We actually ended up talking for quite a while (We both apologized simultaneously for taking up so much of the other’s time). We ended on me trying with another clinician there one more time. At first I was a bit relieved to have a trauma therapist again, and to be able to work on the trauma stuff almost exclusively, but now I am hesitant.

I don’t want to take the slot from someone who may need it more, I don’t want to take advantage of the system, and I don’t want to be an exception to the rule. Also, I don’t want to know that I will have to switch therapists again in 4 months if I don’t move… Looking back on my history with therapy, most of my progress was made with therapists I was able to see for more than a few months at a time (and who had more trauma experience). It takes me SO LONG to trust someone, the constant change makes it difficult to progress.

The positives about seeing a clinician at the s.a.c. center would be knowing that I am talking to someone who has more training around trauma, specifically sexual abuse. It might be easier for me to jump into the trauma narrative knowing that my time is very limited. They also have all the notes from De. Oh, and I made it a point to mention to the supervisor that I am aware of my tendency to distract from the focus of therapy and would like help staying on track. She agreed that it can be a lot easier to talk about the day-to-day stuff or deal with a crisis than to deal with the realities of the trauma. If I do end up there (so still up in the air, as I know I can back out even after speaking with the new therapist), I think I will underscore to her that I know my crises and self-harm are distractions. I will ask that she keep pushing me through all the other stuff that I am supposed to be there for in the first place. I know it was a huge relief when De did that a few times. She would have a plan in place for the session, and kinda just spring it on me when I got there. It was helpful in keeping me from getting too anxious, and in getting me through the material…  I actually left those sessions feeling like I accomplished something (or at least felt that way as the week progressed). I wish she had done more of that, but we digressed easily.

Anyway, sorry. I got lost in writing up things to tell the new clinician (wherever I end up). Hoping that if I can write out those “quick & dirty FAQ’s”, then maybe the “getting to know you” phase will go a bit faster at least on her end.  In talking to the supervisor today, I realized that I am kinda getting sick of therapy (at least the inconsistency) so if I can make this next round count enough to get me ok with a break, then all the better. I don’t know if I want to do therapy again when I get back up north if I won’t get to see Dr. C. At least if I can get a bunch of this trauma stuff out of the way down here (where it all happened, where all the huge triggers are), then maybe I won’t be so desperate for support. I’m just so tired of having to start all over again with the trust and the story… also, it’s difficult to find therapists who “think outside the box” in terms of treatment options. Most just regurgitate the same old things tried a million times that ended up not working for me.

The supervisor was explaining that they can adapt the TF CBT method for adults, and that it might be helpful. It’s still in the testing phases, but this center was chosen as a site to implement it and report on the results. If we end up using it with me, the data will be reported anonymously and with notation that it was adapted for an adult. Heck, at this point, I’m willing to try most anything (NO ECT or anything invasive though, never). Who knows… If it works, maybe I can move on with my life finally… That would be nice.

My other options are to 1) stay with TL’s agency and hope I get someone versed in trauma, 2) try D’s agency again, or 3) hope that one of the three EMDR therapists I emailed tonight takes my insurance…I guess I will see what it’s like talking to the therapist from De’s agency. If that doesn’t work, and the three EMDR clinicians don’t take my type of insurance, I will try out whomever at TL’s agency. If even that doesn’t work out, I will contact D’s agency and get more info… If all of that doesn’t work, then I will just take a break from therapy and try to do some self-directed work on it all (pretty difficult with trauma, especially since I feel the need to finally be able to share it, but if I have no choice, I have no choice). Here’s hoping whatever works out, does so for the best.

There’s freedom in telling

This is something I have been thinking about on and off for years. I have been of the belief that, for myself, I need to be able to tell my trauma in a safe environment. I need to be able to speak about it, to share it, to not carry it alone anymore.
Recovery from traumatic events is a very individual and personal experience. I understand the drive to have empirically based evidence that suggests a particular treatment works (especially if it’s expensive), but I also understand that recovery is not the same for everyone. Some people need to talk about it, some people benefit from the behavioral interventions, some people need to focus simply on the future.  I think when we limit the options for treatment, we limit the chance of recovery. There was a recent article on cbs.com about the VA system and how it continues to fail soldiers. They cited a lack of empirical evidence on best practices as one of the major problems. I think a greater issue is the lack of client-centered treatment.
When we try to fit all consumers into one tidy little recovery box, we miss a lot. I have tried dbt seven times.  I have failed it with catastrophic results all seven times. No matter how I protest the concept of that particular treatment for myself, clinicians and treatment providers always fall back to it saying that I “just wasn’t in the right mind-set for it”. If I were to approach them with a similar history of failed treatment that was not the “popular” one, I would be reprimanded for stubbornly trying something that has clearly not worked. Not only had it clearly not worked, but it has threatened my life every time. So why is it ok for clinicians to keep suggesting it to me? Because this is the accepted treatment modality for many of my symptoms. They no longer think outside the box of what is dictated by insurance. We are losing the creative approaches to meeting the client where they are at, and that is ending very badly for a lot of people.
My ideal situation would be trauma treatment (or any treatment) that is catered to the individual.  If things work for the person, great, let’s keep doing it.  If things don’t work, let’s wreak our brains trying to find something that does. There is no reason so many people should be failed by the system. We have research, we have experience, and we have smart people out there who can figure out how to make things work. Sadly, money talks, and it’s rarely open to backing “unproven” or unconventional methods. I’d be screwed if I had an addictions problem because so much of it is based on AA. That would be incredibly triggering and unwelcoming to me and I would fail. They would blame it on resistance, and label me impossible… they’d never once look at the fact that I react strongly and negatively to any talk of a god or higher power. They would simply say I don’t care enough about my recovery. We need to change the way we look at recovery on all fronts if we are going to be able to be successful in healing the hurt in so many people.

playing with wrecking things

wreck this journalI had seen the “Wreck This Journal” books a while ago and brushed it off as something in which I wasn’t interested.  I looked down on it thinking it was stupid after having looked at only a handful of the pages… then I started to see what people were doing with them.  I fell in love with the idea.  I know I could come up with my own prompts, but it’s just so much easier (and uncomfortable) to use the ones in the book.  I caved and ordered 2 books off amazon (one each for L and I) and they arrived yesterday.  We got to work pretty much as soon as they were out of the box.  L has done a lot more with her’s, but I’m getting there.  It’s a fun, creative process.

Here are a few of the one’s I’ve done so far.

doodle over this pageThis first one was done during couple’s therapy yesterday (we met at Starbucks because it was closer for all involved. It was a bit weird, but not too bad).  The leaves were inspired by the plant on the property across the street, and the bird was inspired by all the birds flying around… I used chalk to color in the line drawing later on that night.





you forgot your flash driveThis next one was also done during couple’s therapy, and inspired by Big Bang Theory. If you watch BBT, this is from a pretty iconic scene. The prompt was to doodle or write on the outside edges of the book.



color outside the linesThis one was inspired by the chalk box that I had decorated several months ago… I love spirals, the sun, and water. This one is also done in chalk.





batik sunflowerThis prompt was to tear out the page and crumble it up.  I remembered seeing a kid’s art project where the students drew and colored sunflowers with crayon.  They layered the crayon really heavily, then crumpled up the page to create the creases.  The pictures were flattened again and painted over with black paint.  The excess paint was wiped off before it dried  onto the wax, which created a really cool batik look.  I thought this was the perfect place to try it myself.  Here is the result. (sorry for the blurry pic.  I didn’t realize how bad it was until I saw it on my monitor.  I will take a better one tomorrow).



rip it to stripsFinally, this page was a white page with dotted lines.  The prompt was to tear it into strips.  I wanted to color it first, so I did.  The following page instructs you to glue, staple, or tape the two pages together.  I sprayed the bottom half of that page with adhesive and stuck the strips to it.  I had intended to keep them flat, but the unruly strips had other plans… I just went with it.


If you have not seen these books around yet, I suggest looking them up.  If you are like I was and hesitant because they seemed “stupid” I suggest taking another look.  It give you the chance to be creative, messy, inspiring, social, destructive, and experimental all at once.  If you are not quite sure what to do for any one prompt, just set it aside.  There is no set order to go through the pages, and you can choose to do what it asks, or ignore it and do something different.  Play around, have fun, and try not to judge what you do.

Most people will only publicise the more interesting pages they did, but I will try to keep a balanced log.  I think I may also end up creating my own version that has more of a therapeutic spin to it (maybe something along the lines of a journal version of the 100-theme challenge). Wreck This Journals do have maybe 5 more-introspective prompts, but I think the concept leans towards the creative process rather than any introspection.  It is pretty much the surface aspects of art therapy in a book, but I would want one that entices me to dig a little deeper about stuff… and maybe something that has paper made for art.  The stuff used for this book is pretty porous, which leads to a lot of bleed-though. Being a perfectionist and rather anal about my pages all being useful, this bothers me a bit (though I’m working on accepting the “mess” of it all).