Did you ever notice that some weeks your conversations have themes? Or that everyone you meet has an invisible thread tying them to you, or a version of yourself from the past?
I was talking to a number of people this week about the concept of moving from being the victim, to surviving to the survivor. Whether we apply this to recovering from eating disorders, moving forward after domestic violence, the emotional healing from trauma or the steps after a life changing incident in most cases there are 3 key stages and these each come with their own coping mechanisms, choices and decisions.
Immediately following any life changing situation/scenario/behaviour we fall into a ‘victim‘ category. As much as I personally hate the concept we are so vulnerable at this stage that we are the victim of a circumstance and our friends and family will rally round to protect, look after and worry about us. This is a vulnerable time and emotions often run high and in all directions. In some cases the person affected may be shut off, in others over emotional, in others they may live at extremes of the emotions. Knowing what to do or how to act may seem impossible and if they are unable to tell you what help they need then supporting with small gestures is often best (e.g. drop off a home cooked meal or offering to collect children from school etc). You cannot force a person to move on from this stage, and often the initial shock will floor their ability to make a sound decision about what they want. Adequate time and when they are ready the right therapy type is generally needed to move forward.
Things to remember – the length of time a person will sit in this capacity is not predictable. The decision to move out of it is theirs and when you see them making these steps be cautious not to continually label them or treat them in the old capacity.
When the person in question makes the choice that they wish to find a ‘new normal’ then they enter a ‘surviving‘ capacity. At this point there is a concept of learning to live all over again and as such there may be some situations which feel too much and others which seem resolvable or solvable. The person may seem ‘more like them’ but we can have a tendency to believe that they are not ready or still need to be moddy-coddled. At this stage it is important to remember that recovery is at the speed which is best for them and often at the speed of the interventions put in place. For conventional therapies this may take months or years, for rapid therapies this could be weeks. There is NOT a text book approach to recovery and nor is there a predicted recovery time. However applying the right therapies for the issue and identifying a core therapist who is able to support and understand the situation will greatly benefit the movement from victim through surviving…
Things to remember – Moving into the surviving stage is like learning to live again. In some cases there MAY be short relapses and in rare cases the person may not want to move out of this capacity as they feel safer having everyone around them. There may be a period of ‘trialling’ a number f therapies (counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, BWRT, EFT etc) to find the best fit for the client. In some cases this may require a combination of therapies over a period of time.
The most rewarding stages for many people who have experienced life changing situations is the day that they realise that when they wake up every morning it is no longer the first thing on their mind. At this stage they will realise that they have ‘survived’ the experience and reach a new empowered point. For many clients who I work with this is joined with a new sense of intuition or instinct which they had previously lost or fell out of touch with and as such they may find it hard to live in old scenarios or patterns of behaviour. They often have a greater insight to behaviours, human interactions and situations as the work they completed on a personal level to reach this point means that they have grown as a person emotionally, intellectually and socially. The empowerment of realising that the past no longer holds over you is indescribable and often emotional for the person involved.
Things to remember – To reach this point is a huge milestone for any client, reward them with the praise they deserve for the work they have put into their journey. At this point do not be tempted to re-live the past or psycho-analyse them. The personal work which is required to move from victim to survivor is significant and some people will NOT want to discuss this. However some will choose to reflect or share their experiences but this is a personal decision. Please refrain from still referring to them as ‘the victim of xxxxx’ they are no longer a victim and have completed the work that is required to allow them to move forward and will rarely want to be reminded of the victim capacity.
Moving forward can feel like a task,,, the journey to develop oneself and make the decision to change or move out of a behaviour/emotion pattern is often one of the greatest one we can experience. The journey may take many different routes and avenues and may require reflection and new choices. This may mean making changes on a personal or work level, taking the opportunity to try a new therapy or admitting situations or personal choices that they were not expecting. The journey will shape us, develop us and often create new opportunities, friendships or life courses. At the point of realising that they have survived and are no longer held in a cavern of the past it is however a point of rejoice and empowerment whose value is priceless.
For advice or support about choosing a therapy option please feel free to contact Nicky at email@example.com or at www.astepatatime.org.uk.