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My therapy woes and how AAIT changed my life.

I spent 10 years in therapy. It was helpful - like a band aid, or a security blanket, but not like a treatment, for the PTSD I struggled with. Sessions were often awkward, cold. I would leave confused and not knowing where the work was going.

I felt the sense of a dance between the therapist and I - the pressure, on both of us, to perform the right steps in order to work harmoniously together. It was inevitably tricky, and took so much time.

10 years is a long time, I moved and went to college and graduated, and I spent a lot of time with each of the many therapists I saw. Unfortunately this story was the same with each of them.

As a social worker and case manager I spent years working with therapists and saw my clients face a similar story. However, where I was always open to therapy, many of my clients were not - they had grown jaded to therapy, they didn’t believe in it, it had a burdensome taboo.

In extreme examples, therapy was a form of torture - sitting through another cold hour with a professional that taught them nothing and left them feeling like damaged goods was unbearable… thoughts like “If this can’t help me, what can?” Feeling no tangible progress after these sessions and the same sense of confusion, now worse, because this person was supposed to be the expert.

It didn’t help that the community centers that took my clients’ insurance were plagued with burn out and high turn over among their therapists. Some of my clients over the years were foster children - they had faced horrible trauma and they had to rehash these painful narratives to somebody new, and who knew how long this therapist would stick around after all that?

I walked away from case management and my dream of counseling. I went back to school, and got my masters in social work but this time I focused on “macro” work - non profit organization, community activism and engagement, advocacy work. I felt powerless to help people on an individual level.

I also walked a way from another therapist after over a year and a half - no tangible progress had been made on my recovery from PTSD and my relationship was in trouble. I don’t know why I believed anymore, but I did look for another therapist.

She uses a methodology she created called AAIT: Acceptance and Integration Training (TM) and it changed my life. Why?

1. Sessions were practical, action oriented with tangible results at the end of each session.

After discussing what I was most struggling with or wanted to deal with or what my goals were, we would jump into an exercise to resolve that problem and achieve that goal. The work, the session, wasn't done until it didn't feel like a problem anymore.

Of course there were issues that needed more work than others and took more time than 1 session, but every session ends with feeling more capable and having a tangible game plan.

2. It was empowering and non hierarchal

I learned exercises to bring the work home - I immediately felt more ability and competence to tend to my own wellbeing without therapy.

Also, every session my therapist would explain this is the problem you are seeking to address, this is how we are going to address it this session and here's why.

If I didn't understand or if that didn't capture the problem I wanted to address or I wanted to take a different tack then we would change gears. It was very collaborative and therefore I felt like an expert in tending to my wellbeing inside and outside of the session.

3. I didn’t have to rehash my narrative again