Therapy for Complex PTSD (multiple traumatic events) is more shot-in-the-dark than science. Mental health professionals don’t have viable treatment protocols for PTSD (one traumatic event), and most are totally clueless about treating Complex PTSD. Sadly, too many still think, for example, that EMDR is effective. It isn’t.
Most of us with Complex PTSD are disabled. We don’t have access to competent mental health professionals, and we can’t pay for the therapy we need. The silver lining of my most recent PTSD episode is that I have found a wonderful therapist named Kate who seems to know what she’s doing. She practices hypnosis which I have heard is highly effective. We aren’t there yet. I still have major trust issues.
In reading other PTSD posts, I realize that many folks with PTSD might benefit by being allowed to go along on my therapy ride. We’re all navigating uncharted waters until the Veteran’s Administration’s research comes up with viable treatment protocols that will hopefully trickle down to the general public. After this post was published, I discovered Right Health’s annotated list of blog posts dealing with Complex-PTSD treatment. There’s a wealth of information available at their site.
Kate and I didn’t start out at the lighthouse, but we were there last night on the beach for a Healing Ceremony for Puget Sound. I think that’s a good place for us to start this journey together. In my next “Kate’s Couch“ post, I’ll share what I learned from our first therapy session.
Healing ceremonies are a Native American tradition. While I didn’t understand everything that happened yesterday, it was totally cool. I’ll explain it as best I can and apologize in advance to those of you who are well-versed in these traditions.
We gathered at the beach a few hours before sunset. I think you could probably do this anywhere in Nature that speaks to your soul. You could do it by yourself or with a group. You might feel a bit awkward at first, but the folks at the beach seemed to be quite envious of our experience and curious about what we were doing.
Fortunately for me, Kate organized the event. She brought sea shells, empty cups, songs to chant, meditations, drums, firewood, and food. The healing ceremony was for the ocean and creatures within it. But, I think the ceremony is a great place for us to start our own healing too. So, I’m going to digress a bit from what Kate did and add some of my own New Year’s traditions.
First, find a place in Nature that speaks to your soul. It may be a beach or a nature trail in a park. It could be a mountain top or desert or prairie. It could be a pond or a waterfall or a stream. It could be as simple as a tree in your yard or a flower pot on your porch.
Second, decide what needs to be healed. What painful memories do you need to jettison? Write each one on a slip of paper. What are your healing intentions? Write each one on a slip of paper.
Third, get yourself a small drum. A traditional Native American drum would be perfect, but an empty oatmeal cannister might do the trick.
Fourth, bring along firewood (if it will be safe to have a fire at your destination) or a small votive candle and an ashtray.
Fifth, write your own meditations and lyrics for chants or research them on the Internet.
Sixth, plan your healing ceremony. I’ll share with you what we did yesterday to give you a guide.
Kate had us write on small Dixie cups what we wanted to heal in the ocean (whales, fish, kelp, water, etc.). We placed a rock in the bottom of each cup to keep them from blowing over and filled them with water from Puget Sound.
We gathered in a circle, and she lead us in chants and singing to the air, the earth, the ocean, the sky, etc. We repeated them facing north, east, south, and west ~ four times. The idea is to connect with Nature on a soul-level.
Next, we each took a stick (you could use a slip of paper). One by one, we stated our healing intentions and added our sticks to the bonfire pile. In unison, people standing north, east, south, and west lit the bonfire. We did more chants and meditations.
After the fire was blazing, we started drumming and singing joyfully. I was stunned at the power I felt on a soul-level. I felt profoundly connected to Nature, and my intentions were literally drummed into my soul. The drumming was very healing. I felt the pain lift from my heart which allowed me to commit to healing. Kate asked us to make a commitment to the healing for which we agreed to be responsible.
When we finished drumming, we took the Dixie cups and gently tossed the water back into Puget Sound while re-stating our intentions.
My sense is that it would work equally well to burn one-by-one the slips of paper containing your painful memories. Each New Year’s Eve, I write on slips of paper what I want to jettison from my life and what I want to invite into my life. At midnight, I burn the slips of paper one-by-one and ask the Universe for help. It helps me let go. And, it helps me focus my own intentions for the coming year.
In essence, it sets my priorities for the year and seals my commitment to them.
The ceremony was complete and a very healthy and delicious potluck dinner was served just as the sun started to set. It was a perfect ending to a lovely weekend. I woke up this morning ready to meet the challenges of the week. My day was highly productive, but I didn’t want it to end before I shared my experience with you.
May God bless you and heal you as you navigate your way to a safe harbor.
All photos courtesy of Carole May © 2009. All rights reserved. You may purchase Carole’s photographs at WhalesandSails.com.