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Psychotherapists of WCH’s Trauma Therapy program

April  8, 2015

For clients with the Trauma Therapy Program at Women’s College Hospital (WCH), it’s instilled, early on, that a sense of curiosity and a willingness to experiment are the main tools needed on the road to recovery. These two mindsets are heavily encouraged by the program’s psychotherapy team.

“Recovery is a learning process. We encourage our clients to be curious. It’s important for them to stand back and observe their behaviours – and think about what drives their actions – without judgment,” said WCH psychotherapist Almuth Weigeldt.

As well, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery, Weigeldt and her colleagues also emphasize that clients might need to experiment with different interventions.

“In psychotherapy, clients need to be open to trying new approaches until they find what works,” she explained.

The psychotherapists with WCH’s Trauma Therapy Program work with other members of the interprofessional team – including psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses – in providing psycho-education to women, men and transgender individuals who have experienced trauma. The program has a strong focus on helping clients develop tools for emotion regulation and remaining calm during periods of stress.

Through group or individual sessions, psychotherapists take a relational approach to care – and often ask clients to consider how they relate and interact with other clients, family and friends. For many individuals, certain events can evoke memories of past trauma – and strong reactions.

“We look at unraveling these reactions and seeing what’s going on,” said Weigeldt. “Often times, an extreme response is not about the present situation. It could be a tone of voice or a seemingly harmless gesture that triggers a painful memory or instance from the past.”

On a broader scale, psychotherapists with the Trauma Therapy Program and other members of the interprofessional team are interested in sharing knowledge about trauma-informed care with their colleagues. The Trauma Therapy team has hosted successful Trauma Talks Conferences and recently members of the team – with others – published a guide, Treating the Trauma Survivor.

As well, the psychotherapy group recently learned that a new professional college – College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) – will be instated. This new organization will aim to ensure that all registered professionals meet competency requirements, act ethically and are accountable. Additionally, this professional group can expect the proclamation of the controlled act of psychotherapy. This controlled act will define the scope of practice for this health discipline – ensuring that patients can expect safe and consistent care.

WCH psychotherapy team from left: Eva-Marie Stern, art psychotherapist; Bonilyn Hill Mohamed, mental health therapist; Tessa Colthoff, mental health therapist; and Almuth Weigeldt, mental health therapist.
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