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Old 01-14-2020, 09:10 AM   #1
Mindtraveller
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Default Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

...with different Ts?

I don't want to keep reliving the experience. I saw a therapist while I was going through my breakdown and talked quite in depth about what was going on for me emotionally. I didn't feel I gained anything positive from it other than having the support of the T while I was going through it. However years later I'm still not well. My current t wants to talk about how I felt during my breakdown but I am struggling to see what more is to be gained from doing so. Surely I'm just re-traumatizing myself by talking the worst time of my life?

Can anyone explain how it's supposed to work? Has anyone had any positive experiences of keep going over old ground with t after t?
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

There's a fine line between processing the trauma and re-traumatising yourself. For many people, talking about the trauma is cathartic because they've not been able to share their experiences. Over time this can allow for exploration of the emotions that haven't been felt and are disrupting the person's life in lots of ways. Many people find relief on expressing the emotions and this can also lead to understanding where a lot of their surface difficulties and behaviours stem from i.e difficult relationships, addictive behaviour.

Sometimes, though, talking about the pain over and over just digs you in more and more deeply and doesn't actually shift you to a more functional state. This can be because the T hasn't worked with you enough on grounding and the pain just feels overwhelming. But other times it's just keeping you in a place of pain whereas it's more helpful to find new ways that could help you move forward -maybe processing the pain in other ways i.e through art or writing.

Processing is the key. You can talk constantly about something but never process it.

Sometimes, too, you need to experience something differently and this will cause a shift. If T gives you something you deeply needed, like empathic understanding or a more specific reaction to something you needed years ago you didn't get, this can often be enough on a neurological level to help you move forward. I'm not great on biology, but I think new experiences lead to new neurological pathways being created and this allows for different experiences.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:19 AM   #3
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Default Re: Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

Simply talking about it is not really the best method of improvement. If you can find a trauma specialist who does EMDR or exposure therapy or other modes that would probably be more effective.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

Talk therapy doesn't suit everyone. I have recently started somatic trauma therapy and it is very revealing and healing for me. It's hard and I prefer to continue to see my talk therapist alongside it because of the complex ground on which I am working, but there is no emphasis on talking and it is very freeing for that reason. You might also want to consider art, dance, sound therapies which do not centre the talking experience.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

My therapist would have agreed; just repeatedly talking about trauma can be retraumatizing. It was an older school of thought that just repeating the trauma and revisiting it time and time again would somehow "fix" things, but he emphasized the "old" part.

His philosophy and method was to approach my therapy from my present. If, in dealing with my reactions and dealings with my present, it became clear that I was reacting to current issues out of response to my history, only then did we directly delve into those memories. And when we did, we talked about where we were going and why we were going there first, kept it as isolated to that specific incident as possible, learned what we needed to as it applied to the current issue, and got back to the present. So rather than a free swim in the swamp of traumatic memory, it was a purposeful short lap there and back again.

Did this approach always work to keep things contained? Not always. I have PTSD, so my tendency was to dissociate in those memories, but generally it worked pretty well. And, because my therapist learned my tendency to dissociate, he could actively work to keep me as present as possible, even when we were delving in my past.

Because recalling those memories was done with a clear purpose in mind each time, and because those ventures into memory were kept short and monitored closely, I found they became "easier" over time and the need to actually go back there started to lessen as I gained real insight with the very directed and purposed focus when we did look at that history.

I finally reached a place where that history stopped running my present (which was my goal), and I honestly rarely think about it much anymore. It's in its proper place finally. I haven't needed therapy in pushing ten years now.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:29 AM   #6
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Default Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

Iíve thought about and dwelled on my bipolar condition for 35 years now. What has helped me so far is understanding exactly what I go through helped me get an accurate diagnosis and treatment. I journaled first 2 years and not only saw a pattern of highs and lows that matched the season but also the length and severity. That helped me be diagnosed Bipolar 1 with a seasonal pattern. The dwelling and constantly thinking about it though just causes me extreme stress and anxiety. It wasnít til recently that I focused on my health in a way that I focused on things I can do to relieve stress, fatigue and using a light box etc . So I guess what Iím saying is talking about it can help you process and learn more about your specific type and give information to your therapist that may be helpful in treating you. The constant thinking and dwelling though caused me extreme stress and anxiety.so Iíd say some is helpful but to much can be harmful. Hope this makes sense and good luck to you.
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

I never understood the point about anything that went on at therapy appointments. I would talk or answer the woman's questions and I would toss money on the table and leave. I have no idea what was supposed to be happening or how that which did happen was supposed to be useful. Therapy was not useful to me.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:10 AM   #8
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Default Re: Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

I am currently journaling about my life story and Iíve had the opportunity to look at some genealogy and see patterns in my family history that relate to me. I plan to work through this journaling so I can put together the fragments of my memories and understand the patterns. Thereís a lot of trauma there but Iím seeing the patterns of my own behavior in all of it that I hope to be able to change. I want to take responsibility for the things I can and let go of what I canít - like the serenity prayer. After all of this, I want to move on. Whether itís with this counselor or another counselor I plan to move forward and stay away from the past. I agree with you that there is no point in going over and over and over and over all of it. Iím hoping I can just stick with one counselor who knows me and understands my story and who I can go back to as needed in the future. This is all my plan anyway but who knows how it will work out.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

For me the point of repeatedly going over trauma is that I can only handle small doses at a time before I shut down. Plus eventually we plan to go back to EMDR so the trauma no longer has a hold on me ... we just need to get there.

As far as your breakdown goes- I wonder if your providers want to be prepared. To know what to look; for what might have been triggered leading up to it; and what helped you.

I had a breakdown where I was so overwhelmed and was taken out for work for 2 months, etc. It was a very difficult time. My new providers want to know about it in an attempt to help prevent it from happening again.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: Can anyone explain what is the point in repeatedly talking about past trauma...

Thanks all for your replies. I will read them properly and reflect on them later.

My feeling at the moment is that for me, talking over past trauma is not helpful and is just re-traumatizing. I am actually scared of going downhill again because of this. Talking about the past trauma has jogged my memory about my thoughts and feelings that I haven't experienced in years and which contributed to me getting to a crisis.
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