My Christmas Wish

Posted by: Linda AK Thompson on December 20, 2013 10:43 am

Psychotraumatology in Canada

Today is Friday the 13th and there are 12 days before Christmas.  The lyrics in my Christmas song would reveal that I know, at my core, every day, what my true love gives to me.  The classic novella and movie by Charles Dickens  – A Christmas Carol (1843) demonstrates that it is never too late to revisit one’s ways; the past, present and future to change the direction and focus in life.

Sometimes, its a child’s question, like Virginia O’Hanlon, who wrote a letter at Christmastime in 1857, that was answered and is now a famous newspaper editorial:  “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”,_Virginia,_there_is_a_Santa_Claus that has further inspired others to build upon that child’s question to create more goodness for others to benefit from.

The fall and winter seasons and traditional family life celebrations; the going “home” ceremonies and rituals of Thanksgiving and Christmas, can be highly charged, intensely emotional and difficult times for heroic survivors of domestic, relational violence – abuses.  Trauma vortex containers and symptom categories form the basis of the diagnostic criteria inherent in Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [C-PTSD][2][3], which receives little public press.  We are just starting to pay close attention to the military stories of war veterans, who stories hit the National News scene, especially when their death is tragic, i.e. Suicide.  But, what about all those heroic surviving women and children, who contain and endure their own secret war stories that occur behind-closed doors? These are the people who inspire me and my Christmas wish is that our country, our government, perhaps Alberta, will rise to the occasion and establish a C-PTSD Centre to attend and offer hope to cure their war wounds.

I first heard the term sunset clients during my training process towards certification in Self-Regulation Therapy [SRT: 2002-2004] at the CFTRE  My instructor, Dr. E. Josephs referred to one client, I presenting for consultation, as a “sunset client.”  The inference was that our client/therapist relationship would exist until one person’s final sunset – implying demise – death.  This idea is too morbid for this helping professional to accept.  Critical ‘choice points’ require critical thinking and intensive care planning.  We provide this type of care for life-threatening, physical obstructing malignancies [matter], and we ought to provide the same kind of attention for “psychic” obstructing malignancies [mind].

Being the eternal optimist that I am at my core, I struggled/continue to struggle with this “sunset client” concept which implies an open-ended, therapeutic traumatic stress treatment contract for clients presenting with a trauma vortex “core” containers to infamy.  This “till death we do part” is a ridiculous implied condition that is impractical, illogical and not feasible on so many levels, for so many reasons.

This degree of pessimism runs contrary to my core beliefs, moral compass and guiding practice principles established for myself that benefits the client population I serve.  The majority are survivors with C-PTSD with varying degrees of SC profiles.  I am a realist; not a fatalist especially when it comes to the power of faith, hope and love.  I have witnessed miracles cures for both physical and psychic encapsulated malignancies and I want to witness more!

This fall and winter season, a small group of seasoned clients, with 20 – 30 years of therapeutic healing journeys behind them, emerged and I am now face-to-face with the mask of the sunset client.  The field of Psychotraumatology is no longer emerging for the eagles have landed.

There are six, not one, so what is this trauma psychotherapist going to do about that within her small practice reality?

This small group are challenging me with a specific request, primary goal and dream:  final relief, release and freedom or cure from their trauma vortex containers – before death.  They all have endured/relived decades of burden/angst secondary to their C-PTSD diagnosis and unrelenting, destructive and to date, treatment-resistant core, symptom complex [SC].  I refuse to accept or label anyone in this small group of six as sunset clients, and this fact, is the impetus for me to conceptualize, revise the standardized contemporary, traumatic stress treatment program I have adhered since 1995.  During November I drafted the experimental, applied counselling program and the methodology is based upon the presenting and manifesting SC of the client participants – case studies and content analysis.  Each participant requires a highly specialized, individualized, plus collaborative team approach [CTA] model of care to guide their treatment program towards their goal – cure [the same spirit/fight noted in people fighting a battle against cancer].

With the research project proposal drafted, I approached a small group of senior, advanced practitioners I have had the privilege to consult/work with for decades.  I forwarded and they graciously received and willingly reviewed the documents and considered my bid, plight asking for their help, expertise and commitment for the duration of the project – 4 years.  Poof – just like the baseball movie/magic – this project was launched.

I continue to dream and wish for a federally funded, Canadian C-PTSD Centre, however and in the interim, two eagles landed and were launched into the MOT: Silver Linings Core Group Healing [SLCHG], Entry Program and we will all do our best towards the healing cure goal.

Wishing you and yours the best during the holiday season and I look forward to sharing our project news, progress in upcoming articles.

Author:  Dr. Linda AK Thompson, PsyD, PACCC, CCC, FAAETS
Owner, Matrix of Trauma (© MOT ™):  Research, Advocacy, Healing


Courtois, C.A. (1999).  Recollections of Sexual Abuse: treatment principles and guidelines. New York: WW. Norton & Co. Inc.

Herman, J. L. (1992).  Trauma and Recovery: the aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror.   New York:  Basic Books.

Pelcovitz, D.; van der Kolk, B.A.; Roth, S.; Mandel, F.S.; Kaplan, S. + Resick, P.A. (1997).  Development of a Criteria Set and a Structured Interview for Disorders of Extreme Stress [SIDES].  Journal of Traumatic Stress, 10, p.9. Copyright 1997 by the Internationa Society for Truamatic Stress Studies.  Printed with permission pg. 88 in Courtois.

Thompson, L.A.K. (2013 – 2017).  MOT: Pilot Project – Silver Linings Core Group Healing [SLCHG].  An experimental, applied trauma psychotherapy, C-PTSD visionary traumatic stress treatment program.  The formation of collaborating team approaches [CTA] of care with “core” practitioners.  The small group, case studies utilizing content analysis of the six participants seeking “pychic” encapsulated, malignant, trauma-generated, core wound cures.


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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