SLCHG Pilot Project: Debunking Myths of Sunset Clients + Anomalous Experiences

Posted by: Linda AK Thompson on February 24, 2014 4:49 pm

Since my last 2 articles relating to the project, I am grateful, pleased to announce that the editor of Counselling Connect created a category for Blog Posts related to trauma counselling.  This will make it easy for readers to find/follow the progress of this research project/field of study.  The focus of this project remains the creation/development of a specialized, blueprint treatment program for posttrauma survivors with anomalous experiences.   Despite completion of effective Contemporary Phase 1–3 traumatic stress treatment programs; they continue to suffer/endure aftermath effects related to anomalies addressed by Herman [4], proposing a category for Complex PTSD [C-PTSD], implying treatment-resistance and labelling: fact, fiction or myth that they are “Sunset Clients” [6].

For background information: personal disclosures, professional development and motivational factors sustaining my interest in this field, readers can refer to previously submitted articles under the title – “The Emerging Field of Psychotraumatology in Canada.”  For the past 25 years, a small sub-group of PTSD survivors have presented with an extreme, severe degree of trauma vortex profiles Herman wrote about.  These heroic survivors have graced my private practice space and we worked hard towards healing goals.  With reservation, I acknowledge, but resist the idea: fact, fiction or myth inherent in the label that some survivors of severe childhood trauma will be ‘sunset clients.’  This term is pessimistic and fatalistic; neither helpful nor hopeful, and all this label does is promote complacency within the professions and helplessness in clients.

Instead, this project provides us with opportunity to create, study and better understand severe core psychological wounds in an active case study format where anomalous experiences are noteworthy, addressed and may debunk the myth that ‘sunset clients’ are doomed and damaged beyond healing-to-cure. These exceptional human beings deserve service from a helpful village of practitioners’ concept, where collaboration occurs and anomalous healing – cure is envisioned.  There is an ancient African proverb from Igbo and Yoruba regions of Nigeria that states, “It takes a village to raise a child:”  For sunset clients [trauma vortex poster children], this proverb was lost during their childhoods and I believe collaborative teams can simulate a good enough, second chance village experience stimulating anomalous healing – cure.

As lead primary co-investigator, I am 100% committed for the past 25 years, my primary role and function remains service as a front-line trauma counsellor.  I completed several pilot projects, however, I have not applied for any more research grants since my Masters program.  I am no longer able to afford the services of a research administrator or support staff.  I remain grateful to our association, editor and this blog site, otherwise findings gleamed from this project would remain underground, another unpublished pilot.  This C-PTSD – Healing-to-cure journey is totally, 100% client-directed for, and in my opinion, this small group remain the experts of their complex selves.

Each participant’s healing-to-cure path/journey will be a unique and highly creative adventure.  The “evolving consensus model of posttrauma treatment” [3] is impressive and I dare ask where is this program located in Canada?  All 7 participants qualify, need and deserve this model of care, yesterday!  But alas, the existence of a Canadian consensus model of posttrauma care remains unknown to me.  Until a director of such a program is identified, the SLCHG will continue taking collective leaps of faith and carry on bravely [one-day, one-step at-a-time], create, develop and implement a blueprint program for the benefit the participants.  The good news is last year the DSM 5 [1] was released and PTSD is no longer classified as an anxiety disorder and instead categorized in Trauma-and Stressor-Related Disorders.

No doubt, this small group of participants are pioneer healing-to-cure trailblazers.  Their experiential process/journey will yield some interesting fruit, specifically related to disclosures of a variety of anomalous experiences [2] as noted in their trauma histories.  At-a-minimum and conclusion of this project; I anticipate that the “healing-to-cure” focus will reveal and generate a novel ‘blueprint’ program that other counsellors from across Canada can entertain/offer to their clients.  The potential for learning/healing is vast.  The success of this project rests upon Good Samaritan purses and acts: for the participants have limited incomes to pay private practitioners for services that ought to be covered by the mental health care system.  There is a lot of controversy in the provision of mental health care services throughout the world – money talks and leads the way.

Therefore, this project is a mission of hope for survivors with C-PTSD seeking cure which remains familiar turf for me.  After 25 years of service, I am relieved to no longer be that ‘underground’ trauma counsellor walking alone, trying my best to serve survivors cloaked in secrecy and fallen through the cracks of the systems, afraid to trust and reveal the depth of their core wound experiences and landing in my small practice.  I personally understand their plight for I also travelled a long hard road of healing-to-cure.  I professionally know the system is not responding to the needs of survivors with C-PTSD.   I continue to stand and walk beside them, both as one example of a woman who healed-to-cure.  I remain an eternal optimist, a humble servant and similar to Siegel, but as a trauma nurse and counsellor, have witnessed many examples of the power of love, medicine and miracles [5], amazing grace – anomalous healing – the tenacity of the human spirit that sets me on fire everyday!

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



APA (2013).  Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5.   Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Cardena, E.; S.J. Lynn & S. Krippner. (2000).  Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence.  Washington, DC:  American Psychological Association

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

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

Siegel, B.S. (1986).  Love, Medicine & Miracles: lessons learned about self-healing from a surgeon’s experience with exceptional patients. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.

Thompson, L.A.K. & C.A. Zimmerman (2013 – 2017).  MOT: Pilot Project – Silver Linings Core Healing Group [SLCHG]. A Complex-Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [C-PTSD, visionary healing-to-cure, Blueprint experimental, experiential, applied trauma psychotherapy protocol.


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

1 comment on “SLCHG Pilot Project: Debunking Myths of Sunset Clients + Anomalous Experiences”

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