(7 minute read)

There are many wonderful ways you can work with someone to permanently treat your trauma, but I want to share with you how I do it so you know what to expect. Treating your trauma can be a daunting process, so I want to make sure you have enough information to relieve at least some of the trepidation you might feel at the thought.


I never start processing trauma with clients in their first sessions. This is because there’s some stabilising work and maybe even some self-study (if people want to do that) that needs to happen first. I also need to know where you are at the moment, in depth, so I can best know how to prepare you and where we might start once we get to processing your trauma. And I’m also very interested in how you want things to be in the future, to help you to know what you’re aiming for, to know what you want so I can help you to get there.

Stabilising work might look like starting the process of emotional integration; the way we address emotional dysregulation and emotional suppression. This is a gentle and thoughtful way to begin to start getting you to trust in your body, your feelings, and to reunite you with any parts of yourself you’ve been distanced from for a long time.

Anger and joy are often the parts people find the most difficult to sit with. Anger because our past has taught us that anger is scary or that we don’t trust ourselves to be angry. But as I’ve told my clients many times, ‘anger is a part that fiercely loves you and will advocate for you until the cows come home!’. Joy because we’ve not had sustained stability in the past long enough to trust in joy; because of our past we’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The next part is beginning to look at what our past has made us believe. About ourselves, about relationships, about the world. And beginning to unpick and challenge those in a way that helps your brain begin to open up and loosen its grip on things that you feel are not helping you. This doesn’t mean completely changing a belief from negative to positive, because that could be unhelpful or even dangerous in certain situations.

As an example, if you’ve suffered a lot of abuse from a certain gender, we don’t want to try to make you believe that everyone of that gender is good. Instead we might (depending on how you want things to go and what feels right for you) begin to attune to your intuition or strengthen your boundaries so that in future you can more confidently navigate people and know deeply who is and who isn’t trustworthy, and to what degree. And in a way you’ve not had access to before. This isn’t about toxic positivity, but a reality you can genuinely accept.

Trauma Processing

Once we get to this part, we will have already discussed the route you want to take into what may feel like a tangle. I’ll explain options beforehand and several sessions in advance so you have time to feel into what feels okay for you. We’re unlikely to start with the hardest things. I want to get your confidence up that you know what you’re doing and that you feel safe.

Whatever issue we begin with is highly individual. Some people choose to start with a tough experience they had at school with a bully, if they feel that’s mild compared to their early homelife. Other people simply want to start with reconnecting to a younger version of themselves, a version that wasn’t heard or loved.

For the sake of an example, let’s start with school bullying. Through a process of visualisation or even just connecting to that younger voice, you would close your eyes and allow this younger version of yourself to come forward. At first you would just have a moment to take each other in; you seeing your younger self for the child they are, and them seeing you as an adult who made it this far. Even this part of the process can be incredibly powerful for some.

I would then invite you to start a dialogue with this younger self. What’s going on for them? How do they feel? What do they wish the adults would do? With my guidance, you might want to validate them, hear what they have to say, hold them, and then tell them all the things they needed to hear at the time but didn’t. This might sound like you telling them they didn’t deserve what they’ve gone through, that abuse and bullying is not okay, or simply that you love them. So many of the things I’ve heard, from even the most nervous of my clients, has been incredibly beautiful and unique.

Once we have comforted them, heard this younger self express everything they needed to say, and said everything we needed to say to them, we can then invite them to leave those memories behind and assure them that they never have to go back ever again. We can leave them in a lovely, safe space that they love being in, and we release them, happy, with no need to ever be plagued again by what they went through.

One client, who was being abused at school and at home, wanted her childhood self to be in a seaside cottage, in clothes she wasn’t allowed to wear at home; clothes she could run around in and get muddy. This was her very first trauma processing session after our preparatory work. She told me afterwards that ever since that particular session, any time she ever thought of her childhood self, she now saw her in casual clothes, running around with a joy all over her face.

How Does It Actually Work, Though?

So much of my own training I’d completed in 2018 I found reappearing in my own complex trauma treatment a couple of years later.

‘How does this actually work, though?’ I asked my own trauma practitioner.

‘We don’t know,’ she replied. ‘All we know is that it just does.’

I don’t think it’s too far fetched to suggest it’s like anything else our brain experiences very vividly, our brain tends to believe it. There have even been studies that show that doing exercise sessions purely in your mind can make you stronger. Trauma is created by huge unprocessed emotion, among other things. So it makes perfect sense to me that, given that brains are very bendy and obviously very suggestable, given the right experience, you can unlock and process that stored emotion, write a new ending to difficult memories, and allow those memories to file away for good, like everything else in your past.

Unlike other practitioners, it’s not part of my practice to get you to relive a trauma in detail. The idea is to be as regulated as possible, so that you’re able to feel safe enough to let go. If you’ve connected well to it, we would probably expect there to be a big emotional release, but clients typically describe this as deep compassion for their younger selves or acknowledgement of what that younger self had to go through, and feeling empathy for that younger self. Which is a far cry from leaving a session feeling dreadful, having just relived some of the worst moments of their lives. After my sessions you may need to sit in quiet for a while and just be gentle with yourself, but it shouldn’t leave you feeling bad. 


Not every trauma process will utilise memories – much of what we’ve been through could have rooted within us when we were too young to remember things. We still use the same process as above, but we might approach it slightly differently or intuitively. It also is not a linear or scripted thing; your brain might throw out something completely unexpected, and in an order that makes no sense. Following your own brain’s trail of breadcrumbs tends to have the quickest and most effective route through it all more so than anything I would ever conjure up (I thank my NHS training for that particular nugget of wisdom!).

It’s also really important to mention that, whilst I’ve described the experience above, it takes a lot of training and experience to lead people safely through this process. A wrong step by someone inexperienced could cause you to be horribly triggered, or even worse. Please only do this with experienced professionals who have good reviews.

Myself and most of my clients are neurodivergent (typically autism and/or ADHD) and generally have very vivid imaginations. I suspect this may be an advantage, but I appreciate that being a neurodivergent practitioner and therefore working with more neurodivergent people may have influenced my experience with my clients and the speed at which they typically change.

For some people, their mental health considerations may be far more complex. As an example I have a very talented colleague who works with the general public, but also specialises in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, previously named ‘multiple personality disorder’) in conjunction with a major DID clinic here in the UK. For the average person (or ‘system’ as some folks call it) with DID, they tend to need 5-6 years of trauma treatment for integration of their different parts to come back together.

Likewise for people with personality disorders, it’s likely to take a lot longer, and their capacity for treatment may be limited, depending on their individual circumstances (I do have one acquaintance who has recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder, AKA BPD). I am not experienced in treating people who have more complex needs, but I wouldn’t turn you away if you felt strongly that you wanted to work with me and I was confident I could provide you with good care.

Other considerations might be around the stability of your income and homelife, having the headspace and time to do this work, having the energy to do it (one client had to stop for over a year because her work life became overwhelming, but she came back once she’d burnt out from it and had to take sick leave), and of course, feeling you have enough safety to do it.

All of the above aren’t reasons you can’t do it – you absolutely can – but it may be that you engage in some of this work now to get you to a point that you can confidently begin to change your life circumstances to support another round of this work later. I’ve had clients do this, too. It may also be that for those of you with more complex needs, other modalities may be more appropriate and expectations of the end result may be different.

The good news is, that given you don’t have very complex mental health challenges, and have hopefully already reached a point where you’re fairly accustomed to talking about your mental health, this work is usually not a life-long undertaking. The core work I did on my relational trauma amounted to about 25-30 sessions (I can’t remember the exact number, but I know it was within that range), and many of my clients tend to feel they’re done in 3-6 months, depending on where they began and what their individual challenges were. It doesn’t mean you’ll never find another bit of trauma hidden in there somewhere, but by the time you do find the odd bit lying around, it’ll become an occasional maintenance session that feels as ordinary as going to the shop for a pint of milk.


I hope that this has given you plenty of information to better understand how this works, and even better, that you’re less intimidated by the prospect of it. I won’t lie to you and say it’s the most fun you’ll ever have, but I will try my best to keep it light when you need it to be, and to treat you like a capable human being throughout.

 Is it time for you? Would you like to have a no-pressure conversation and just see what comes from it? I’d be very happy to talk with you. All of my assessments and sessions are done online, so neither of us will ever have to worry about where we left our car keys or shoes!

Let’s have a chat. Book on the button below, and I’ll see you soon.

With love,

Harris (they/them, Founder)


Is it finally time for you to say goodbye to your relational trauma?

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