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Trauma Counselling 

Trauma-Informed Stabilization Treatment (TIST), developed by Dr. Janina Fisher, is a specialized approach for addressing severe trauma-related symptoms and disorders. Many trauma survivors grapple with intense self-hatred, self-harm, eating disorders, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Traditional treatments often fall short, leading to recurring crises, hospitalizations, and cycles of addiction and recovery.

TIST operates on the principle that these severe reactions are not signs of personality disorders or mental illness, but rather indicators of trauma-induced fragmentation and self-alienation.

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The Impact of Trauma

Experiencing trauma, particularly in childhood, necessitates a disconnection from body and mind. This detachment helps children endure overwhelming events, continue their development, and form attachments even with abusive caregivers. The human brain, composed of distinct structures that hold different types of information, naturally fragments or dissociates under stress. While adaptive during traumatic events, this response becomes problematic when trauma persists, as seen in cases of child abuse, domestic violence, or prolonged exposure to violence and threats.

Daily threats trigger survival instincts—fight, flight, freeze, cry for help, or submit. In some contexts, expressions of anger or fight responses are suppressed, favoring passive or compliant behaviors instead. Over time, these survival responses form distinct personality parts, each driven by different defense mechanisms.

The Role of TIST

Traumatized individuals often enter adulthood with fragmented personalities. One part might function effectively in daily life, managing work, studies, and caregiving, while another part feels fraudulent or burdened by responsibilities. Other parts may experience guilt, shame, or self-doubt, which can manifest as mood swings or inappropriate behaviors. Suicidal thoughts and self-harm are often desperate attempts at seeking relief rather than genuine wishes to die.

TIST was initially developed to treat chronic suicidality and self-harming behaviors in patients with long-term mental illness. Many participants in the early trials had been hospitalized for years, continuing to harm themselves despite various treatments. TIST provided a breakthrough where other methods had failed.

The TIST Approach

TIST is a mindfulness-based therapy encouraging individuals to observe their distressing emotions and impulses as signs of triggered parts of the self. Clients learn to see these parts not as defining who they are but as aspects of their trauma responses. By being curious about the fears and needs of each part, clients can inhibit acting on harmful impulses. This mindfulness component allows individuals to slow down and explore their reactions without judgment.

Unlike other therapies, TIST does not focus on revisiting traumatic events. Instead, it addresses the lasting effects of trauma on the individual’s personality parts. Healing occurs when the adult acknowledges and accepts these parts, recognizing them as crucial to survival. Each part can be transformed from a problem into a solution: the fight response can provide strength and courage, while the submit response can offer willingness and compromise.

As individuals develop compassion for their traumatized parts, they experience increased calm and safety, feeling that the trauma is truly in the past and they are safe in the present.

 

Conclusion

Trauma-Informed Stabilization Treatment (TIST) offers a unique and effective approach for those suffering from severe trauma-related symptoms. By understanding and integrating the fragmented parts of the personality, individuals can move beyond their traumatic experiences and achieve lasting healing and stability.

Please contact us to book an in-person or telehealth appointment today!

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