Comments from past students about the
Post Graduate Diploma in Traumatology & PTSD
I am a lead counsellor and having realised that I needed additional specialised skills when treating complex trauma clients. I began to look for a course that might provide me with specialist trauma training to help my clients address their flashbacks, hypervigilance etc. There were several trauma courses available and I made contact and researched them including the ICS Postgraduate Diploma in Traumatology and PTSD (level 7) written and taught by Lucia Hall, after careful consideration and reviewing the various syllabuses I chose the ICS course.
It is difficult to quantify all that I have gained form this most rewarding course of study. I am now in a position where my practice is at times unrecognisable, the assessments I carry out are now thorough and comprehensive, a must in trauma treatment. My ability to offer a bespoke treatment plan based on assessment of need is of massive benefit to my client group and the variety of treatments I can offer is vast.
Perhaps most significantly these treatments are not on offer in isolation and in fact are only available after comprehensive assessment, thorough and appropriate safety and stabilisation and a warm and professional relationship.
I have learned that the key to successful trauma treatment is applying a systematic evidence-based treatment that gives clients the very best chance of recovery.
Thank you Lucia and Steve; I feel proud and privileged to consider myself a Hall Traumatologist and my clients…well the evaluation forms speak for themselves
'Prior to starting Lucia's course I was a bit of a 'one trick pony’. My trauma clients would receive the same treatment pathway regardless of their background and history which led to mixed results and often re-referrals for care. Thankfully, through attending Lucia's course, I am now able to offer an abundance of treatment solutions and provide my clients an evidence based treatment package that is bespoke and relevant to them as an individual'.
I believe that I have benefited enormously as a therapist by attending the Post Graduate Diploma in Traumatology and PTSD. Before 2014 I had little appreciation of how trauma impacts on clients. My interventions were limited to a more basic, and somewhat more superficial, utilisation of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. As a result of being encouraged to research the scientific body of knowledge I became far more confident in my day to day working relationships with clients; I now believe I can offer intelligent explanations and thereby enlighten and reassure my traumatised clients.
Without doubt my assessment skills have improved as I am far more open to material I would have previously ignored when developing a formulation. In working on particular case studies I am forced to apply the theory to practice; via supervision I am able to correct inevitable errors in addition to sharing with my peers, gaining their support and listening to and learning from their experiences.
Furthermore, I believe I have grown as an individual. I now have a greater understanding of how events in childhood and beyond accumulate and shape personality, one's beliefs and one's emotional make up. This was only partially appreciated by me prior to commencing the course.
The systematic approach has been highly influential in that I now start to consider a case more thoroughly, from the initial point of the referral letter (if available) the reviewing of the notes, during the treatment, and the ending, as a more coherent thread.
I would start to consider my differential diagnosis from the outset considering the initial information. The notion of diagnosing is often problematic for psychotherapists, but in terms of trauma treatment it acquires particular importance, and I have felt able to justify the act of attempting to identify possibilities, identifying a syndrome and considering co-morbidities more thoroughly. I can't say I always do this as systematically as I would like, as I still have little dedicated time for Trauma work at the moment.
Formulation has moved into a concept of a more complex, multi-dimensional arena, I think providing a more genuinely holistic approach
I now know I need a way of organising notes systems so I am more prepared. I generally have a number of items to hand,, such as assessment tools, but I have not fully systematised my approach to assessment, and the development of an additional notes system will I think help in this regard, and can only be beneficial to clients.
The tuition concerning psychosocial approaches to depression has offered another dimension to standard CBT approaches, and I have found this very validating in terms of considering the client more holistically and feeling justified in doing so. Tuition on the impact on the brain of trauma has provided a secure knowledgebase, that has helped me to provide anchoring to clients.
I also note that I rarely feel helpless in my work now, due to the multiplicity of tools and conceptual approaches provided by the course. This 'multi dimensional' tuition means that I can start thinking straight away, having access to a number of ideas and approaches, and stay calm! The quality of the resources is excellent, I re-read them all the time.
This course has given me incredible insight into trauma. It has given me new insight into the assessment and treatment of this debilitating illness. I feel enriched by the quality of the information given to me and the help and support offered by the tutor on the course.
I am now a safer practitioner, I believe, as I am making a robust assessment of my clients and given them a structured and coherent treatment program which is evidence based.
I also feel a greater sense of confidence in working with this client group, because of the expert knowledge that has been imparted.
I feel that the clients have more confidence in my ability and are willing to engage in the process. I sense the clients ease in working with me in the knowledge that they are being listened to and fully understood.
There is an increased clarity in the processes of treatment and a full understanding of the theoretical basis for all that I do with my clients.
I feel privileged to have been on this course and I am grateful to the course team who have been generous in sharing not only their vast knowledge but their resources as well.
I have trained as an integrative humanistic therapist and my main models were Person Centred, Transactional Analysis and Gestalt. As one of the agencies I work within is focused on adults who have been abused as children, I found I needed to learn more about working with trauma. As a result of this I have read many books, done various training courses and workshops, which I have found very useful, especially in the early phases of the work - safety and stabilisation, but I felt I was not trained in processing trauma and this was an area I needed to develop - hence my decision to enrol on this Post Graduate Diploma in Trauma and PTSD.
The course has had a huge impact on the way I work with trauma clients. Although my previous training is a brilliant basis for building the relationship, which I still feel is extremely important in all types of therapy and also looking at their Script for their behaviour patterns etc., I now follow a totally different process when working with trauma clients.
Trauma focused therapy is a very specialist area and I believe very different to other models of therapy. I now feel I have a clear and concise process to follow. As a result of the training I have received on this course I now feel equipped to offer my clients’ specialist trauma focused therapy.
It is important to build effective relationships, although this should be in order to safely process, not just for the sake of having that relationship. I have also learnt to keep up the momentum of work to enhance motivation and engagement, and also to achieve outcomes. Crucially, I have learnt to keep an eye on moving forward, not just upon the past. An example of this is when thinking about goals for treatment to focus on what people want to be able to do or how they want their functioning improved, rather than upon what they want less of. I have also valued the provision of such a wide range of processes/techniques that can be used for various situations/difficulties. It now feels like I have a tool kit that I can dip into when needed.
I have also learnt the art of brevity, as I have previously had a tendency towards being more longwinded in my written work. I have learnt that this might mean others miss or do not get to the point I wanted to make. The neuroscience psychoeducation was also really useful in teaching me simple but informative ways to explain to clients why they have the experiences that they do.
I enquired about the course in July 2013, but only decided to go ahead during the November. I was unsure of whether it was the right course at this stage of my therapy career or even if it would add anything to my way of working with clients. I certainly got my answer on both counts!
This is course is like no other I have ever experienced before and I doubt whether there is a similar one available either in the UK or in Europe for that matter. It has added a completely new dimension to my work and has gradually become my preferred way of working with clients who may be experiencing the effects of trauma and PTSD.
I learned very early on in the course that the approach of assessment, stabilisation and treatment was far removed from conventional therapy. Instead of weeks, often months of building a therapeutic relationship, hearing the client's problems (often repeated and recited in detail week-on-week), sign-posting and bringing about change through subtle interventions, the Traumatology approach was something completely different and progressive.
I could immediately see how discussing trauma in a conventional therapy setting would be activating the client, de-stabilising and reinforcing trauma and trauma memories. The client could quite conceivably end up in far worse state than before with the risk of suicide in the more acute cases being a real possibility. One of the main attractions for me was the detailed, systematic methods involved and how relatively straightforward it could be to address the client's trauma (also, how easy it would be to make a catastrophic mistake by trying to process trauma without the necessary training and knowledge).
The whole learning environment has been a great experience for me because positive energy and encouragement in a group setting gives me the support and positivity I need when learning something new. By having a class that, on the whole, worked well together and by having somebody leading the course who I am sometimes in awe of because of her depth of knowledge and confidence, this has made it a positive, energising experience that I would thoroughly recommend.
Firstly, in terms of my background, at the time of starting the course I was a qualified CBT therapist for 21 years and would certainly consider myself to be a competent therapist.
However, I have had an awareness for many years that Prolonged Exposure (PE) was not sufficient, and in fact relatively dangerous, as a stand-alone treatment for complex trauma. When EMDR became a prominent treatment approach, I was still left with a reluctance to use this technique for childhood abuse.
This PG Diploma in Traumatology & PTSD, from Integrative Cognitive Solutions, has provided me for the first time in my long professional career with the sufficient scientific tools for me to successfully treat an adult survivor of childhood abuse. This course has been professionally life-changing and has given me immense confidence in my professional life.
Having been a Humanistic Counsellor for 16 years I expected to feel competent to add another modality to my bow quite straight forward. This has not been the case. I have struggled to integrate the Traumatology model into my existing framework, I have been directed to not try to do so but instead to deliver the trauma model to clients in the pure form that it is taught on the course. With new clients this has been fine but with existing clients more difficult. The tension in the two ways of working however is stretching me and I am learning a lot that I expect will make me a better therapist than I was before!
I have learnt the benefit of full and thorough assessments and realise that had I known this years ago I may well have saved a few of my clients quite a lot of time in therapy before realisation of an underlying trauma has come to light.
I have understood the importance of creating a safe foundation for trauma work and have embraced the visualisations around safety and stabilisation and have seen the positive effects this has on clients in teaching them they have control over their distress levels.
The biggest insight for me has been that avoidance keeps things stuck. Although I would have thought I understood this previously, I now really ‘get it’. I think previously I had a stronger emphasis on what I called ‘stroking the defence’ which is recognising distorted adaptations are motivated to try and be helpful, even though of course they will not work. I now see that ‘avoidance keeps things stuck’ is the other side of this coin, and that it is valid, as a therapist, to be strong, confident and educative in directing a client to change an avoidance habit because ultimately habituating to the traumatic feelings is what causes healing to occur.
To summarise, the course has been humbling, challenging and incredibly informative with a goody bag full of skills!