by Gemma Keeley, CTIRF, LSRF
Certified TIR and Life Stress Reduction Facilitator, Gemma Keeley of England, has spent considerable time working in a secure psychiatric hospital. With training on TIR and related techniques, she got some outstanding results with clients not usually considered ready for TIR, yet the results speak for themselves. These results came directly from Gemma’s application of the Communication Exercises.
As always, do take care to make sure your clients are ready for TIR, as covered in the TIR Workshop manual. It is not advised that you use TIR with clients who have significant cognitive impairment unless you are thoroughly familiar with working with such cases. Refer anyone you feel unsure of being able to help to appropriate professionals.
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The following case notes come from a few of the many outstanding case results Gemma saw while working in the hospital.
The first example illustrates the power of Communication Exercise 7 (“Staying on Track, Getting Questions Answered”). The situation was with a psychotic patient who was disruptive, abusive and naked! I asked the team of five staff and nurse standing by with the syringe, who were ready to take the patient to the floor in the communal area of the hospital, to give me a few minutes. I repeatedly said, “OK. Go and put some clothes on and then we can talk.” After the seventh time, the patient started to de-escalate. After 15 times, she went to her room, got dressed, returned and we talked. Because she was not getting any other reaction other than me repeating the same words, she de-escalated quickly without the need for physical restraint and medication.
The next patient had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for over 15 years. While doing TIR, she broke down and spoke of a traumatic incident that happened in her childhood, which she had never been able to discuss with anyone. She reported, “No one has ever listened to me before. Psychiatrists have looked at me like I was a monster, often tutting [saying “tut-tut” as a sign of disapproval – Ed.] or grimacing at the things I have said. You not only listened to me, you gave me the freedom to open my heart and release the pain. Now I am at peace.”
Another patient provides a rather extreme example. I had worked with her many times before. She had experienced childhood sexual abuse by her father for many years. She wanted to tell her father how much he hurt her. We were at, “What would you like to respond to that?” on the Unfinished Business technique when she went into a rage, with piercing screams, throwing furniture, pulling down the bookcases, throwing heavy chairs across the room, and punching walls. I remained in my seat and stayed with the Communication Exercises, indicating to a team who were ready to restrain her to back off. After a few minutes she returned to her seat, exhausted but calm, stating, “Wow! Nobody has ever allowed me to get my anger out. All the others just abuse me by restraining me, knocking me out with medications, keeping the demon locked in. I feel free; you freed me. Wow! That was amazing. Now I can move on.”
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The initial enthusiasm that greeted Gemma’s work diminished over time as patients began finishing their work and checking out of the hospital, leaving empty beds. Some of her colleagues there expressed anger and resentment when patients started to refuse to see them and wanted to see Gemma instead. Stay tuned for further news of Gemma’s next enterprise.
This article originally appeared in AMI/TIRA Newsletter, Vol XI, No. 2 (July 2015)