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Steve's psychologist's story

Hearing Steve using the word ‘freedom’ towards the end of our work together is overwhelming – just hearing how powerful this therapy is, and the impact that it’s made, never ceases to reward me.

"I was really pleased that Steve had already learned coping strategies and management of emotions in his RELAY group before we started the PTSD sessions, and that because there had been a few months’ waiting time, he’d been practising them and we were ready to progress.

"Once we’d developed a clear understanding of his current symptoms and what was keeping them going, we were ready to move onto the active part of the therapy.  He knew that it was likely to be difficult and distressing, and as a therapist, I was aware that it seems counter-intuitive to deliberately bring on something distressing, like his flashbacks. But Steve’s courage, positive attitude and willingness to take on exposure work really paid off for him. He was willing to do terrifying things and he trusted me to ensure that it was always collaborative, and he always had complete control.

"We set goals at the beginning, and he achieved them all. Having been high in the clinical range for PTSD at the beginning, he could see that things were changing week by week, and by the end, Steve scored close to zero on PTSD symptom measures.

"Steve’s personal estimate of the time it would take was three years, but in fact just one was enough! Although we really only focused on the one most prominent incident in his early life, it generalised with all his other experiences, and the therapy worked much faster. People don’t normally have to ‘relive’ everything, but more usually there are a few incidents that would ‘pop up’ and need addressing, rather than just one.

"We did audio recordings of all the sessions, and Steve’s agreed that all the recordings can be listened to by trainee therapists, and that I can use them in training, so that the work will benefit other people too. In fact, Steve has even volunteered to talk to training groups himself.

"During a journey like this, there’s always fear that it’s going to be distressing, and going to get worse before it gets better. But hearing Steve using the word ‘freedom’ towards the end of our work together is overwhelming – just hearing how powerful this therapy is, and the impact that it’s made, never ceases to reward me. "

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