The Farndon Unit specialises in supporting women with complex care needs through a trauma-specific pathway within a low secure environment. Through this pathway, the majority of patients undergo Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) with Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) to support their ability to cope and manage their past experiences.
Patients have advocated highlighting their perspective of what to expect from undergoing TF-CBT with CFT. Our three-part trauma series hears from a patient at The Farndon Unit who has completed a programme of TF-CBT. You will hear about her hopes and fears prior to completing the programme, how the therapy went and her reflections having completed the course.
A patient’s perspective of undergoing Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Compassion Focused Therapy
Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt before starting the therapy?
I was very angry, I hated the world, and everyone in it. I suppressed a lot of emotions and hid a lot of what I was feeling. When trauma work was suggested I wasn’t exactly ‘up for it’, and I wasn’t sure it was a good idea at the time. I felt that it was a big risk in talking to someone else about my own thoughts, feelings and worries because, in my own mind, I had decided that if I didn’t talk about my trauma, it didn’t exist.
What were the main emotions you had about trauma therapy?
The main emotion I felt was feeling scared, as I had never done such work before. I was also quite nervous about what was going to happen.
What was the main reason that you wanted to do trauma therapy?
I think that nobody really wants to do trauma work – I didn’t want to talk about my personal circumstances and trauma with a stranger, but I had this drive to want to do anything to get better. On reflection, this was my 8th hospital, and psychology so far just hadn’t gotten through to help me. I was having a lot of flashbacks and couldn’t find a way forward.
What work had you done beforehand?
I had tried EMDR before, but it wasn’t helpful to me. Before this, I have done a lot of skills work, and six months of building up trust – as this was important to get to know the therapist so that I could talk in the session. I need to be able to trust someone to talk about things like this.
What did you think the advantages would be in completing trauma work?
Well, I thought a number of things when I tried thinking about the advantages of completing trauma work. Perhaps I would feel slightly better by being able to think about events from the past with fewer flashbacks, and not being so easily triggered by day-to-day things such as, seeing things on the TV. Or, hopefully, that this work would cure me – but I know this isn’t realistic. To be fair, even if it just worked a little bit, then that would make me feel better.
What did you think the disadvantages would be in completing trauma work?
There is always that thought that, if I try to complete this work it could set me back, and possibly increase my self-harm thoughts, urges and actions. I even thought that if I don’t do the trauma work, then maybe I could ‘blag my way out of hospital’ by pretending that I’m okay. But, if I had done this, then this also would show that I wouldn’t be okay.
Look out for the second part of our patient’s perspective trauma series in the coming weeks which highlights the patient’s feedback, thoughts and feelings whist undertaking trauma therapy.