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Climbing the Ladder Listener Submissions / ep16 Show Notes

Updated: Mar 27, 2020


Carla-Jo from the UK

  • Checkin, pause, think and reflect on what can be done now

  • As a parent, better understanding for the moment to be a support

  • Relationships with others and meeting others, more awareness of others’ states and how to interact with them to provide support

  • Compassion, understanding and awareness

Theresa From Twitter

Hi Justin,

I once had a trauma therapist who had a lot of pictures in her office. But they were not hanging on the walls, they stood against the wall, in corners or leaning against flowerpots. I didn't understand why she would decorate the floor like that. Then during therapy I was climbing down the ladder, my gaze dropped to the ground and into corners, and there I was welcome by colorful pictures. Most of them were painted in warm colors and showed a person being comforted or surrounded by friends or being taken care of. It totally re-activated my safe and social system, so we didn't lose connection.

My current trauma therapist is specialized on severe dissociative disorders and she is training especially to stay regulated when her patients go down the ladder hard. She is wearing an HRV device on her wrist (that also tells her the time). It vibrates when her HRV drops. I think this must be so helpful with staying regulated, to have something that tells her when to take a break and take care of herself first.

I have DID, so I am frequently working with child parts. We have developed our own language around the polyvagal theory. They know the different arousal systems as personified cartoon characters we created together, complete with costume and character sketch and typical thoughts and behaviors. So we can talk about 'who is visiting' right now and find a playful approach to manage the situation.

In therapy we always make sure to have an anchoring situation ready. Our Therapist collects these stories, like an especially good games night, time spent down at the river with bbq and singing songs, or even events we are planning like a grand birthday party. If the topic is getting too difficult and I drop down the ladder hard the Therapist will suddenly transition to talking about our anchoring scene to engage us in safe&social thoughts again. We are used to it now and even though we know exactly what she is doing it works every time. We are now bringing anchoring scenes to her for this purpose so she knows where to go with the intervention.


  • Sometimes can feel or cannot, usually needs help with grounding techniques

  • When felt, identify where from (head/tired/foggy/cotton/not thinking clearly)

  • Staying grounded with the feeling through senses

  • Rubbing fingers, describing things present, smells

  • If the moment is gone and you’re in a new one, that’s okay! You’re still present

YOUR HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT - Use one of the techniques that you’ve heard today. Find one that works for you and do it daily.

Music & Sounds by Benjo Beats -

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