Kathy Akers is a State Registered Dramatherapist, who has been registered with the Health and Care Professions Council since 2010. She also has a background as a theatre and drama practitioner, and is committed to the use of play, creativity and imagination in healing complex and difficult problems.
Since 2014, Kathy has specialised in work with complex trauma and dissociation in children, adolescents and adults. She specialises in working with children who are Looked After or in adoptive placements, children and young people recovering from complex trauma and abuse, and those who are struggling to engage with education.
Kathy is trained in Assessing and Working with Trauma and Dissociation in Children and Adolescents, which she undertook with Dr Renee Marks at Integrate Families. She also holds a Diploma in Trauma and Abuse Specialist Skills, with the Penny Parks Foundation, enabling her to deliver Parks Inner Child Therapy to adults and young people aged 15 and above. Both of these methods can be integrated into dramatherapy sessions, or used as a stand-alone approach, according to the needs of the client.
What does a Trauma and Dissociation-Focussed Session look like?
A trauma-focussed approach to working with children follows the model of practitioners such as Drs Renee Marks, Joyanna Silberg, and Amber Elliott. It acknowledges that children who have survived difficult and traumatic events may have developed adaptive survival strategies, that no longer serve them once they are in a safe environment, but that can be re-triggered by (often very ordinary) environmental stimuli. These strategies can look from the outside like difficult or bizarre behaviours, and can have a negative impact on the child being able to build secure relationships. Children who have survived complex trauma can often have a fragmented experience of themselves, and can experience that they are made up of different “parts”. A trauma-focussed approach works with the child, their parents and carers to think about what might be behind the behaviours from the perspective of the brain’s survival responses, and what the role of the different parts might be, so that the child can begin to integrate their experience, allowing the survival behaviours that are not helpful to them to reduce.
What does a PICT session look like?
PICT is an evolving, cognitive form of therapy, with a foundation in basic Transactional Analysis, that incorporates Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to aid rapid positive change. PICT is a directional model following a flexible structure adapted to the client’s individual needs. It is designed to assist people who have completed the ‘unloading’ process (the initial talking through of past events) to move into the process of deep and lasting change work.
The structure of a PICT session may differ to that of other talking therapy approaches in that specific, directional visualisation exercises are used to aid lasting change for a client. These are adapted and used to suit the individual needs of the client. PICT tools can usually be used for clients aged 15 and above, and are extremely effective where there are traumatic memories or ‘sticking points’ that need to be acknowledged and resolved.