I have learned about this specific way of dividing the process into 3 stages from the trainings with Complex Trauma Therapists Network UK which were absolutely wonderful and very informative.
I do hope this is going to be helpful giving survivors a greater sense of control over the process that might be initially perceived as “scary” and “unpredictable”.
Learning The Coping Skills in response to unpleasant bodily sensations, unpleasant internal emotional responses and a sense of helplessness.
This is a stage when a patient builds their own sense of inner security and safety. We could use a metaphor in here of a patient and their personality being portrayed as a building that is not in a very good condition and needs a refurbishment. Stage one is like putting a scaffolding around the building. The scaffolding protects the building from any further damage and allows it to be well prepared for further works. Patient is supposed to learn how to set boundaries towards problematic people present in their life. Patient explores several ways of healthy survival strategies during difficult moments. Patients test these strategies to learn which specific strategies are going to be most effective in bringing inner peace experience for the patient. Stage one is essential and necessary for the treatment to progress to Stage II and Stage III. After the completion of Stage I the patient might be so very pleased with the level of their new balanced subjective experience of their inner self that they might decide to end the treatment at this stage. There is absolutely nothing wrong about it – many patients choose to end their treatment completing Stage I only.
Processing of Unresolved Aspects of Patient’s Memories Referring to Historical Traumatic Events including internal conflicts and self-image
This stage could be compared to construction works inside the building. These changes could change the layout of the space which metaphorically means the way the patient sees themselves after the experience of the trauma. The construction works at this stage serve the purpose of establishing an inner comfort of the patient internally for them to feel comfortable in their own company. These works lead to self-acceptance of own internal aspects of personality and to openness and acceptance towards the new aspects of internal landscape that could have been created in response to traumatic events from the past.
Process of Personality Integration, integration of the parts that got separated from the core during the traumatic experience. This stage allows patients to once again feel fully themselves internally and in contact with other people.
Stage III is all about the finishing works inside the building. It is all about the manifestation of patient’s ideas about the interior design of the building that belongs to them. This stage serves a purpose of creating such a version of interior design which fully reflects the true personality of the patient. Very often Stage III is the experience of getting rid of the mask/masks that the patient could have been wearing for many years pretending to be somebody else. This is a stage of final release of trauma from the patient’s personality. This moment of release addresses also any false believes the patient might have been holding on to about themselves for a very long time. This is also a stage when the patient is ready to effectively face the experience of having been moved away/rejected by their family of origin which might have happened in response to traumatic events. These sense of rejection and isolation is all about the patient feeling like someone “worse” than others when compared to other family members. During Stage III the patient makes an active attempt to rebuild their relationship with their family or, if impossible, with other people. This process is helpful in meeting their normal, natural, and healthy need for connection and belonging. The reconnection could take place with the old-changed or new-different group of people the patient is able and willing to trust.