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Long-term psychotherapy in trauma recovery - a consumer perspective

Dr Cathy Kezelman AM

This paper reviews my psychotherapeutic journey of recovery from a traumatic childhood. When my niece's death triggered a 'breakdown', my medical backgound was of no assistance. As I grew anxious, developed panic attacks, became depressed, suicidal and experienced nightmares and flashbacks I thought I was losing my mind. I consulted a clinical psychologist thinking that a few sessions would 'fix me'. I had little insight into myself, my inner world, my relationships or my functioning. Nor did I appreciate the significance of the 10 year gap in my conscious recall. Despite my therapist providing a safe reliable and contained space it took me an inordinate period of time to trust her or realise that she could keep me in mind. She was empathic, compassionate and skilled and established a therapeutic relationship core my survival and my recovery. Over the years she bore witness to whatever I brought into the room, to the floods of dissociated fragments of trauma returning to my consciousness, and threatening to overwhelm me. 

24-28 August 2011 Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
Darling Harbour, Australia.
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Cathy Kezelman
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Dr Cathy Kezelman AM

Dr. Cathy Kezelman is a medical practitioner, President and Director of Blue Knot Foundation (formerly Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA)), a national organisation which advocates for and provides services to Australian's abused as children and a Director of the MHCC (Mental Health Coordinating Council). She is also a survivor of childhood trauma and a mental health consumer. She is a founding member of the committee driving a national agenda around Trauma-informed Care and Practice, a member of the Cross-Jurisdictional Working Group: Responding to Sexual Assault National Project, on the reference committee of ACSSA (Australian Centre for Study of Sexual Assault) and represents ASCA on the Coalition for Protecting Australia’s Children, Mental Health Council of Australia, Families Australia and a number of other committees/working groups. She is a prominent voice in the media and at conferences, as well as author of her own memoir: Innocence Revisited - a tale in parts. For more information go to


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