The Trauma Recovery Centre (TRC) in Bath is celebrating an amazing milestone – ten years of helping children, young people and families recover from complex trauma. Over those ten years, the TRC has worked with over 1,000 clients and delivered over 20,000 hours of face-to-face recovery intervention, seeing many families leave its centre healed and whole.

The TRC was founded in 2011 by Betsy de Thierry who took her 20 years of experience as a teacher, psychotherapist, author and mother of four to set about creating the charity and finding a way to help families recover from significant trauma and crisis.

“It became immediately clear that there was a desperate need for trauma recovery intervention in Bath and the surrounding areas, and the TRC waiting lists became full quickly,” she recalls. “At the beginning, the TRC worked to try and help as many families as possible through creative therapy and parenting support, alongside other aspects to their work such as therapeutic mentoring, alternative education provision and quickly opening other centres.”

Betsy explained that trauma is defined as an experience that involves terror and powerlessness, leaving the child with a sense of overwhelm. “At the TRC we use the Trauma Continuum (de Thierry 2014) to help us assess the severity of the impact of the trauma experience on the child and family so that we can work out what therapy package to help them recover. Type I trauma is described as a traumatic experiences which usually take place as a ‘one off’ such as a hospital operation, a car crash, a house fire or an incident of bullying. Usually, children can use words to describe how they felt and so normal counselling or mentoring can help them begin to make sense and recover from it.

“Type II trauma is when the traumatic experience has been repeated often, usually over more than a year, and this can change the wiring of the child’s brain to be on hyper alert for danger. This means that the child needs more specialist therapy to help them recover from the impact of the trauma on their mind, their body, their relationships, their sleep, their emotions and their every day life. Usually experiences such as abuse, ongoing school trauma, bullying, repeated difficult medical interventions, chaotic homes or homes where domestic violence happens, where the child is left terrified, would be described as Type II trauma.

“Then there is Type III which is often misunderstood because the child has been so overwhelmed by their traumatic experiences that the core of their identity begins to change to survive what seems un-survivable. These children and young people need specialist help which can eventually unpick the complex coping mechanisms and different layers of trauma.

“At the TRC, we work with Type II and III trauma, and as such we take referrals from wellbeing specialists, counsellors, school nurses, play therapists and mental health practitioners. It takes around three years to qualify as a trauma therapist and a further three years to complete the TRC trauma recovery focused pathway training.”

The TRC places the child at the centre of its work and builds a recovery plan around their specific needs, specialising in complex trauma cases. Through this carefully managed plan, the TRC helps the child to not just manage symptoms in the short term, but to make a long term recovery from the impact of their traumatic experience.

Working with its highly trained team of complex trauma professionals, psychotherapy is provided at the TRC through play, music, art and other creative therapy sessions for the child or young person, with therapeutic sessions provided for the parent/carer taking place at the same time. The TRC also provides specialist help for other professionals working with the child, such as help with an EHCP plan in educational settings. To try and help with the full waiting lists, the TRC recently started extra ‘triage’ sessions to try and meet families quickly and to help bring expert support in emergencies.

Jane (name changed) had been at a school where she had been given several emotional coaching support interventions, alongside the help of the school’s counsellor and one-to-one teaching assistant, but it was only when she came to TRC at age eight that the team was able to assess her as having the symptoms of complex trauma. The TRC supported the whole family with trauma therapy and helping her with clinical assessments that went on her EHCP and helped her find a school that would be flexible with her recovery journey. She is now a teenager and doing so well.

Over this last year, despite the added pressures of the pandemic, the TRC has continued to see clients, either online over zoom or opening with Covid safety measures in places for face-to-face therapy. It also recognised the need for families to feel supported and added extra online private Facebook groups for parents to ask questions.

“The effectiveness of our work has been evaluated by Christ Church Canterbury University Salomon Applied Psychology Department using our clinical data from 248 clients in 2019 and it was found that 98.8% of the sample had significantly clinically improved through the TRC’s intervention, with difficulties significantly decreasing, and strengths significantly improving,” added Betsy.

“More than that, however, are the many hundreds of positive stories from families and children of lives completely transformed due to the specialist care and love from the TRC team over many months, and often for families who have not found help or hope from anywhere else.

“It’s been a huge privilege to have founded the TRC and have seen the team flourish in this specialist area of complex trauma. My highlights are always seeing the families tell their stories of hope and restoration. Another highlight is having those who came to the centre for therapy years ago coming back to visit and seeing them grin at the rooms they loved and seeing how tall and grown up they have become.”

A former TRC client said, “The support we have received as a family has changed our lives. Before we were at the TRC we felt shamed, alone and hopeless. You have supported us through our worst times and you have helped the children’s schools to understand too. You have never judged us but have shown patience and kindness as we all changed and recovered.”

To celebrate its 10th Birthday, the TRC is hoping to raise awareness and some much needed funds to make sure that it can continue to remain open for another 10 years. If you would like to help the work of the TRC continue to bring hope to children, young people and families in Bath for another 10 years, then you can donate via the website www.trc-uk.org/support-us

For more information about the Trauma Recovery Centre visit www.trc-uk.org