Judy* is a 68-year-old retired woman who lives with her husband and has many artistic interests.
Judy had spent her life undervaluing herself, always putting others first, and with little self-love or self-respect. In her early sixties, some childhood memories surfaced, which lead her to believe that at around age four she was sexually abused by her father, who had also been an extremely undermining, destructive, controlling and dominating influence over her life.
Since these memories had surfaced she had suffered high-level anxiety, panic attacks and disrupted sleep. She described herself as feeling “worthless”, “out of control”, “anxious”, “highly emotional” and “lacking purpose”.
Judy comes from a family of 4 children. As the third child she felt unloved and neglected by her mother, and though she had felt loved by her father - she only realised years later just how conditional his love was, and how manipulative he had been towards her all the years she had lived at home. Her father worked long hours and, after work, would spend time socialising with friends, rather than with family. Judy also felt her mother had been jealous of her, her beauty and the attention Judy received from her father, and was emotionally absent her whole childhood.
In her early sixties a distressing life event had prompted Judy to see a counsellor for a period of several months. Whilst this had helped her gain a perspective on her behaviours, responses and beliefs about herself, it did not help her to change them. Unfortunately, some of the things said to her in her counselling sessions were destructive and painful, such as: “You need to realise, you are damaged goods.”
Judy wanted to increase her sense of self-worth, and to begin to value herself more. She wanted to feel peace and resolution in terms of her father, free of the dogma she had been indoctrinated with as a child, and to feel calmer and more joyful. She wanted to feel free to do what she wanted to do – to be able to prioritise this – with the people she cared about, and wanted to spend time with. She also wanted to be unaffected by certain people in her life who had always undermined her and made her feel bad about herself.
Judy completed the homework exercise, outlining the most stressful events in her life, and a list of desired outcomes for our work together. Her homework highlighted a childhood during which she was constantly undermined, where things she cared about were taken from her, in which any sense of self-worth was constantly stripped from her, and where her mother was emotionally unavailable.
She then went on to undertake 4 sessions of TRTP within a 16 day period.
Judy felt much more grounded and calm after Session 1, and listened to a recording of session 1 daily (sometimes twice daily) until her second session, four days later.
After Session 2 Judy felt a definite shift in recall of certain distressing life events, and in certain destructive relationships in her life.
After this session Judy felt liberated. She felt a sense of relief and resolution in terms of her childhood and her parents. She became very clear on whom she wanted to spend time with in her life, and what she wanted to do, and also became very clear on what was unimportant – people and activities she didn’t want to “waste time and energy on”. She felt strong in herself, and worthy of respect and self-respect.
Judy reported that her anxiety had gone, and she was feeling rested. She felt calm and grounded, and was sleeping soundly through the night. She was feeling no sense of stress or “pressure”, which had previously been constant throughout her life. When asked about certain people in her life who had had a major destructive influence, and who had triggered her anxiety and sense of worthlessness, she responded with “Pfff… they don’t matter”.
Pre -TRTP: DASS 21 Results*
Depression - Normal, Mild, Moderate (9), Severe, Extremely Severe
Anxiety - Normal, Mild, Moderate, Severe (8), Extremely Severe
Stress - Normal, Mild, Moderate, Severe, Extremely Severe (17)
Post -TRTP: DASS 21 Results
Depression – Normal (0), Mild, Moderate, Severe, Extremely Severe
Anxiety – Normal (0), Mild, Moderate, Severe, Extremely Severe
Stress – Normal (1), Mild, Moderate, Severe, Extremely Severe
Judy followed up 6.5 weeks after our last session. She reported feeling much more “in control” of her life and her feelings, and unaffected by what she had referred to as “negative influences”. She was feeling calm and grounded. Her changes were so profound that she could barely remember what it was to feel “stressed” all the time, and unable to “just stop”, as she had felt before our work. She was consciously choosing whom she wanted to spend time with, and felt no sense of being overwhelmed.
*The DASS is a self-report scale designed to measure the negative emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress. It has been shown to be a valid and reliable measure of these psychological states as well as tapping into a more general dimension of psychological distress. Please note, DASS scores are often doubled for a clinical assessment. Here I leave them not doubled.