Welcome to the narcissistic abuse recovery Podcast. I’m Caroline Strawson. And I’ll be sharing with you awareness, understanding and education about the devastating effects of narcissistic abuse to help you thrive. I want you to know that I’ve been exactly where you are now. And I believe you. And this show is all about taking you from trauma to transformation. So this is an interesting topic, and one that I get lots and lots of messages about, why isn’t this talk therapy that I’m having, healing me of my narcissistic abuse, I’ve been going to counseling for the last year, and I feel no further forward. I get lots of messages. I’ve even had clients who are psychologist and psychiatrist and talking therapy does have a place, but I’m going to explain to you exactly why in this podcast talk therapy can’t heal narcissistic abuse. So those people who have been sufferers of narcissistic abuse, the majority of those will have something called complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now, I’m not here to diagnose anybody. And I’ll talk about complex PTSD in other podcasts, but complex PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is really a complex issue. And PTSD is really an information processing disorder. So what Complex PTSD is really a information processing disorder that has happened over a longer period of time, PTSD tends to be for a single event. That’s why most people who have been in an abusive relationship for a period of time, whether that be a child or an adult, they will exhibit all the signs and symptoms of complex PTSD. I know certainly, for me, I was diagnosed with initially PTSD by my therapist, but a lot of therapists they do overlap PTSD, and include complex PTSD. And actually, it’s only just recently that the complex PTSD has been actually put in the DSM, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that the American Psychological Association used to diagnose mental health disorders. So I almost didn’t in some respects wish they would change it to post traumatic stress injury, because when you talk about injuries, we kind of think, oh, yeah, that means that they can heal, whereas the disorder that almost makes it sound a little bit more challenging, which of course, it absolutely is. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t heal from complex PTSD. So why is it that talk therapy, then, very, very rarely will actually heal Complex PTSD, which is what like I say, pretty much every single client that I deal with is suffering with because of those after effects of narcissistic abuse. Now talking therapy, absolutely. I’m not here in this podcast, to slate talking therapy, because I absolutely think it has a place, it validates somebody you have somebody listening to you, and things like CBT, which is cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT, dialectical behavior, therapy, they all have a place in the healing process. And I use a lot of these tools within my healing process for my clients as well. But if I was just using those tools, it would be really difficult to help heal that trauma. Because as you know, narcissistic abuse is trauma. This isn’t just like anything else. And this is why really a number of things I believe you should be looking for if you’re looking for therapists to help you heal the trauma of narcissistic abuse. One is that they’ve actually been through it themselves. And now this might sound a little bit odd. But if I was going to see somebody, particularly with narcissistic abuse, because it is so particular, it is really, really these little nuances. And that understanding someone who’s just read the DSM, someone who’s just read things online, personally for me, they don’t know what it’s truly like, if I had $1 for every single time, one of my clients said to me, Oh, my goodness, Caroline, it’s like you’re in my head, it’s like you really, really get what I’m going through. And I’ll often say it’s because I’ve been exactly where you are. And that in itself validates my clients. And equally, it shows them where I am now. So it gives them hope. And I think in all of this, just having that hope that where you are right now so as you listen to this podcast right now, you might be thinking, Oh, Caroline, I’m in this long dark tunnel doesn’t even feel like there’s a light at the end of it. I want to be your light. I want to show you that I’ve been exactly where you are now. And whilst you know those who follow me on social media will know that I always talk about healing being a journey, not a destination. So even now on a daily basis, I’m learning I’m growing. I’m working on myself, but from a narcissistic abuse perspective. Yes, I’ve absolutely move forward from that, but I’m still living my life, and I will still look at things, I will still have activations and I will still go deep within myself and look to heal. So really the first thing to look for is somebody who’s been through narcissistic abuse. And then what you need to be looking for is somebody who isn’t just doing talking therapy, because talking therapy alone will not heal narcissistic abuse, I’m going to explain to you the reasons why. So our brain very, very complex device, amazing device. You know, it always astounds me, when I think of our brain and our body, all of these intricacies of the different systems that we have, and how they all interact together. You know, I remember when I was pregnant with my son, you know, I fell pregnant, I went through my pregnancy, and I had my son at the end of it, I actually took all of that for granted. Up until then I started to try for a second child, and I was having multiple miscarriages. And it suddenly made me realize actually, what a wonderful thing our brain and body are, and actually how much we take for granted. Because when everything is running smoothly, we don’t even stop and think about it. But actually, you imagine, there’s so much that could go wrong. And the majority of the time, things run really smoothly. But the number one job of our brain is to keep us safe, and to move us away from our big, biggest perceived pain. So it isn’t our brains job to make us happy, or successful or wealthy. Sadly, it’s our brains job just to keep us safe, and to move us away from pain. Now, when we know that, and when we really start to understand how the brain works around trauma, this means we can really start to access where trauma is stuck. So like I said to you, complex PTSD is an information processing disorder, things have got stuck, I hear that phrase a lot from my clients. And you may be listening right now thinking, Caroline, yes, I do. I’ve just feel stuck. It’s almost like Groundhog Day where you’re waking up every day, you’re feeling the same kinds of things. Or you might wake up one day and think, oh, I don’t feel too bad today. And then all of a sudden, there’s a trigger, and bang, you feel like you’ve taken a million steps backwards. And actually, all this is highlighting is that something is stuck inside of you, that area of your brain where trauma is processed. There’s something that’s stuck. And this is why really talking therapy, like I say whilst it has a place. And equally, it can be really beneficial, it’s not really going to massively shift and heal that trauma. Really talking therapy is about managing the symptoms a lot of the time and maybe progressing a little bit. But talking therapy actually only accesses 10% part of our brain right at the front part of our brain. So let me give you an example. So your brain really is divided into two parts to keep it really simple. We have the conscious, and the subconscious mind within that. Now the conscious mind equals about 10% of our brain. So yep, that’s right, the place you spend most of your time, all of your waking hours is the smaller part of your brain. Now your subconscious mind equals about 90% of your brain. Now your conscious mind is responsible for that short term memory, logical analytical, the rational part of everything and it’s kind of located, we call it in that prefrontal cortex that aspects of our brain in the front part of our head. So if you looked at my forehead, that would be kind of where I’m talking about right now. And this is what I like to call with my clients when we’re online, dealing with things dealing with people and dealing with the narcissist in our life. And we are calm, rational and logical. And you might be thinking, Caroline, I don’t remember being calm, rational and logical. With the narcissist in my life, well, that means we’re not in that part of the brain then. So that means when you go for talking therapy, you’re not actually accessing the part of the brain where that activation is and where it is stuck. So the problem is that your conscious and subconscious mind process information really, really differently. Now you can think of it and I love this analogy. I just think it really, really helps you understand. So you can think of the conscious mind speaks English and the subconscious mind. Well, let’s just say it speaks any other language. So while your conscious mind uses the language you speak to understand and make sense of things in your life. The subconscious mind will use stories, metaphors, symbols. Now the two do not communicate effectively, which is why you can sit in talk therapy for years and years and years and you Don’t find that freedom, that healing, that free feeling in your body of feeling free that you desire, because actually, you’re only working on the 10% that understands what you are discussing. So this is why it will have a place, but it’s only accessing 10% parts of your brain. And this is why you can keep telling yourself each and every day, Caroline, I am safe. I am enough. I know I’m lovable. I know I’m worthy. Yet in your body, you still have that activation. So you might see the narcissist in your life. And you might then be saying to yourself, Okay, I’m safe. I’m okay, I’m enough, I’m worthy, I’m lovable. And you can be saying all of that to yourself, yet your body is telling a different story you are activated, your heart rate might be going 10 To the dozen, you might be picking it your skin, your shoulders might be rising up the tension across your neck and shoulders, your jaw is clenching all of these things because your body is telling something else to what you are trying to say to yourself in that front part of your brain, the logical rational part, because your subconscious mind is operating. Now your limbic system, that area of your brain, the emotional part of your brain, where we have the hippocampus, and the amygdala is now operating in survival mode, it is sending messages to our autonomic nervous system to go into fight, flight freeze, or when we’re talking about narcissistic abuse form. So that PS type of trauma response to now why your conscious mind, of course, is using that language, your subconscious mind is just really activated. So like I say, if you’re going to see a therapist, they’re going to be only accessing if you’re doing talking therapy, that 10% Part of your mind. And I have seen many, many clients that have spent many years and I mean years in therapy, just talking therapy. And actually sometimes when we’re dealing with trauma, and you can see go and google this, there’s so much research coming through now about this, that actually talking therapy can sometimes make you feel worse. Because you imagine if you keep on talking about all of these same traumas all of the time, you’re activating your own system, and words and pictures you create in your brain, create your reality. So if you’re reliving certain events, in a situation with your therapist, then the words and pictures that you have in your brain create a reaction and activation in your body. So it’s almost like you’re just re-traumatizing yourself all the time, because you’re talking about it. So your body, that emotional part of your brain will communicate with your nervous system, fight flight freeze again, and we go into those trauma responses as well. So really, that subconscious mind that limbic system is really, really important. And the sole job is just to keep you safe, and to move you away from pain. And if your version of pain is somebody making you feel not good enough or lovable or worthy, because that takes you back to a time as a child, where you had the most pain. When you feel like you’re going to be triggered, that’s your version of danger, and bang, we go straight into that subconscious mind, that limbic system sending those messages to our autonomic nervous system as well. It doesn’t understand the difference between the past, the present and the future. It’s only understanding in that moment processing in the present. That’s why you get these activations all of the time, things have got stuck. So it’s really important when you’re looking to heal from things like narcissistic abuse, the trauma of that, that we’re going to be using some of these brain body based therapies. Now with my clients, I use two in particular called EMDR. So Eye Movement Desensitization reprocessing, although it’s called eye movements, actually what it’s using is something called bilateral stimulation. So those fragmented memories that are stuck within our brain, telling our body that we’re still in a moment that actually happened potentially years ago, but it’s still causing that activation in our body what EMDR does by using bilateral stimulation, so yes, you can still use eye movements. Sometimes I use cross tapping, sometimes I have tappers, I use bilateral music and sound. What will happen is, I will use that bilateral stimulation, the left and right hemispheres of the brain almost to bring me back into alignment. So that that hippocampus can dump those memories into the past. So your brain recognizes it’s in the past. And now you’re in the present and you are safe. So rather than being that little girl, or that little boy that stuck in that memory in the past, what you are now is the adult recognizing what happened to you in the past as opposed to being in it. And then the other one, which is amazing, I absolutely love this one. And that’s something called Brain spotting. Brain spotting is fairly new, but I say we’re fairly new, it’s been around a good few years now. But I suppose in relation to EMDR, a lot of people know about EMDR, it’s widely recognized as maybe one of the best treatments for trauma, a brain body based, really a somatic psychotherapy. Whereas brainspotting, I really feel goes even deeper than EMDR. It was founded by a man called David grand, and he used to be a trainer in EMDR. And then he found that really where you look affects how you feel. So brain spotting is very much client led, and it really allows the capacity of the brain to heal itself. But again, we’re accessing the part of the brain, that subconscious mind where the trauma is stuck. And certainly from a brain spotting perspective, it’s almost like you have a capsule in your brain at the back of your brain where this trauma is stuck. And sometimes we have a lot of dissociation involved and what brain spotting we do, it’s almost like where you look, it’s like a laser to the back of your brain, almost like cracking open that capsule, and then allowing for natural processing to occur. So what we’re doing is we’re not just then thinking that we are good enough and safe and worthy, and lovable, we feel it as well, because trauma is really a brain mind and body experience, which is why a lot of the work that I will do with things like EMDR and brainspotting, we’re really bringing the body into all of that as well. So this podcast is really about saying to you, wherever you are on your journey, please make sure that you are getting the right treatment for you. And you might be at the stage where you’re further along your journey. And maybe you’re not getting that activation in your body. And talking therapy then may be of benefit. But if you have a trauma that you are trying to deal with, like narcissistic abuse, and there could be other traumas, maybe from your childhood, too, that you just feel like you are stuck, then I really recommend you doing some research because remember, talking therapy only accesses 10% parts of the brain, we need to be accessing the other 90% where the trauma is stuck where it hasn’t been processed. And certainly for me, if you’re looking for a therapist, for narcissistic abuse, you need to look for somebody who has been through what you have, so they get it and that they are using these brain body based somatic psychotherapists, so they can really help shift you in the part of the brain where that trauma is stuck. Because if you don’t do that, you could be in therapy for years. And like I say, I think one of my clients, they had been in therapy for over 25 years. And within three months of working with me, they were a completely different person, because we were accessing parts of the brain that she’d never had access to before. Because the therapist actually had also seen a psychologist psychiatrist, they’d never used these types of brain body based therapies so we weren’t actually accessing, so she knew she was good enough. She knew she was worthy. She knew she was actually safe in the present moment. But every time she had a trigger bang stuck in there, she went straight back to being in certain events that had happened to her in her past. So I hope you enjoyed listening to this podcast. I really hope it’s explained a little bit, maybe with some of you who feel stuck right now. And I really look forward to seeing you in my next episode. Thank you for listening to the narcissistic abuse recovery podcast. 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