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My doctor has told me the type of therapy I need is called Narrative Exposure Therapy. What does it mean and where can I find it?
Answer from Marion, a Better Than OK CBT Therapist:
Narrative Exposure Therapy, also known as NET, is usually recommended for people who have experienced several traumatic events. Often people who come for NET have been sexually abused in childhood or been in a violent relationship as an adult so they have experienced several occasions where they felt like their life was in danger or where their personal boundaries have been violated.
Narrative Exposure Therapy involves drawing out your life span using a piece of string to signify your birth, all the way until the present moment. Together with your therapist you will add a stone for each of the worst moments of your life. Stones signify times where you were hurt either physically or emotionally. Stones are specific moments in your life. We will give each stone a name for example "the first time" or as one of my clients put it very evocatively "loneliness". You will also place flowers on your timeline to illustrate positive memories or people who've been important to you. Finally, we will place candles on your timeline if you've lost anyone close to you.
After this, you will spend a 90 minute session each week talking through one stone at a time in minute detail. The purpose of talking about the event, and your thoughts, feelings and behaviours at the time in such detail is to help your brain integrate all this information into one cohesive and comprehensive story. Research has shown that during a traumatic experience our hippocampus, the part of our brain used for storing memories, 'fuses out' and can't record what occured. This means people tend to have these memories jumping out at them during the day, as flashbacks, or during their sleep as nightmares. If you can put the events in order and link the information by putting it all in context your hippocampus has a better understanding of what happened to you and can move on from this event. The research shows us that if we talk through every stone in order throughout the course of your life then you can put these events in the past and get on with your future.
Narrative Exposure Therapy is well researched has been proven to work incredibly well. It might not feel like it to begin with, but you can put these awful memories behind you with the help of a therapist who is trained to deliver NET.
If you have experienced childhood sexual abuse or been in a violent relationship and want psychological support in overcoming the memories and nightmares, contact us to arrange an initial consultation on 07766 233 657
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