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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Help for ongoing PTSD adult survivor of abuse & later life trauma

    I am a 26 year old female.

    I have been diagnosed with P.T.S.D, Chronic Depression, General Anxiety, SAD and suffer from ongoing Panic Disorders. These diagnoses where made, roughly 4 years ago, and re confirmed last year. I have tried a number of treatments over the years but the severity of my symtoms has increased and I am now on Disability Support Pension. Apart from my mental health issues, I believe that I have very low self esteem or worth. I tend to find it hard to view myself in any sort of positive light as well as what I think are some really unhealthy co-dependency issues.

    I was abused as a child, something I hardly remember, more like random photographs accompanied by intense and overwhelming feelings. At 15 I began my first adult relationship with a boy, who progressively physically, emotionally and finally sexually abused me.

    I am looking for someone who has experience treating this type of complex trauma, any names that I could referred to would be great!!!!
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 4

    Thanks

    Mariela Occelli

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Mariela Occelli is a Clinical Psychologist with well over 20 years experience in the assessment and treatment of clinical disorders. She has worked in private … View Profile

    Your story sounds very familiar. The effects of childhood sexual abuse can be far reaching and the journey one of intense pain, and isolation. Girls who experience sexual abuse in childhood are many  timesmore likely to be sexually assaulted and abused as adults then their non abused peers, adding to the impact of the initial trauma. Childhood trauma is linked with the development of many different psychological disorders including PTSD, Panic Disorder,Disociative Disorders, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Obessessive Compulsive Disorder, etc. One way to find a suitable therapist near you is to contact the Australian Psychological Society Referral Service on 1800 333 497. They can give you a list of Clinical Psychologists local to you that specialise in the treatment of complex trauma and survivors of childhood sexual abuse. You can obtain a referral from your GP which will allow you 10 hours of therapy under the Medicare scheme per calendar year. In addition, if you live in NSW and the abuse occurred there, the Attorney General Department has a counselling scheme which will cover up to 22 hours of counselling.  If you would like further information feel free to contact me by email or by telephone.

  • Toottis

    HealthShare Member

    Thank you for your reply, it's very much appreciated!

  • 4

    Thanks

    Michael Guy

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a clinical and coaching psychologist (www.lifeaftertrauma.com.au) with over 15 years of professional experience. Recognized qualifications and lots of experience to give me skills … View Profile

    It is likely that many of your problems with depression and anxiety are secondary to the PTSD.  It is therefore importanty that you seek out someone experienced in treating PTSD.  
    PTSD has the highest drop out rate of any psychological problem and it is important for you to remain motivated to achieve change.  Anxiety is often maintained by avoidance and therefore treatment is often avoided.  Depression involves hopelessness and people need to build hope to counter it to stay in therapy.  Overcoming avoidance and hopelessness is an important part of your healing.
    The Australian Psychological Society's Find a psychologist is also available on line.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Toottis

    HealthShare Member

    Thank you, yes I myself have dropped out before. I don't think I was in the right headspace to deal with it all then. But I am determined to get better and have been building support so that hopefully this time I stick with it! Also I don't think that the psychologist really grasped how I felt, not that she was not a good psychologist. I don't think I even understood the situation then tThanks for your reply, much appreciated!

  • 1

    Agree

    4

    Thanks

    Michael Guy

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a clinical and coaching psychologist (www.lifeaftertrauma.com.au) with over 15 years of professional experience. Recognized qualifications and lots of experience to give me skills … View Profile

    Dealing with trauma requires strength so often it can be that a person needs to be ready.

    Psychotherapy is a very personal relationship.  Finding the right therapist can be a problem.  Sometimes it is recommended you see a few different people and see how you feel before committing to one.  With childhood trauma that has created patterns it may take a few years to overcome them and this may mean working with a few different therapists with each one building on the other.  On the other hand sometimes it is one therapist that does the job over the years.  Everyone is an individual.  

  • 7

    Thanks

    Therese Mortlock

    Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist

    Some good information for you above.  When you have Complex Trauma you need some long term therapy commencing with lots of stabilisation and resource building.  ASCA (Adults surviving child abuse) guidelines www.asca.org.au are recognising this as vital.  Once you have more resources and stability which could take many months of therapy, then the traumatic material can be processed as you feel safe enough.  Ask for a therapist that works with Complex Trauma.  Have a look at this ego state website which explains a bit about how we form “states of mind” from dissociating and thus blocking or compartmentalise the damage to survive the abuse, neglect, enmeshment and rejection  www.dnmsinstitute.com.

    When I work with clients with Complex Trauma I use either EMDR with Ego State Therapy or the DNMS (Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy).  EMDR is approved by the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and by many worldwide organisation and has much research to prove it's efficacy. 

    Therapy may take time but proceeding slowly will get you there.

    All the best in your journey

  • Anonymous

    I wish you were down in Melbourne!

  • 4

    Thanks

    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    In addition to the good suggestions already put forward, in my experience the most vital ingredient is building a trusting relationship with the right therapist. Survivors of interpersonal trauma (that is - trauma caused by someone you should have been able to feel able to trust and feel safe with) messes with being able to feel safe in the world and trust others. Not being able to do this means that anxiety and avoidance become ways to keep yourself safe - they have been useful to some extent, but then later stand in the way of being able to move forward and do things that make life worth living - have close friendships and relationships, find work that you enjoy etc. 
    So my suggestion is - don't be afraid to ‘shop around’ and find someone you feel able to build a trusting therapeutic relationship with, who you can then allow to help you process your traumatic experiences in a safe and manageable way.
    I am a Melbourne-based therapist who specializes in working with adult survivors of childhood trauma, and would be happy to talk further with you if you would like - either by phone or email.

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    Thanks

    I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create … View Profile

    In addition to the other helpful information I would also like to add that there is new research coming out all the time in the treatment of trauma. I have recently completed additional training with LaTrobe University in Radical Exposure Tapping which has been proven to have some amazing results in many cases of complex trauma. I am in Melbourne and would be happy to speak to you further about this. Please feel free to call me or email me to discuss. All the best.

  • 4

    Thanks

    Jennifer Porter

    HealthShare Member

    I have experienced this type of abuse personally and could recommend my psychologist depending on where you live. Feel free to contact me and I will give you her details.

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