The Girls Within: A True Story of Triumph over Trauma and Abuse

Author(s) : Gill Frost

The Girls Within: A True Story of Triumph over Trauma and Abuse

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : November 2020
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 344
  • Category :
    Trauma and Violence
  • Catalogue No : 94851
  • ISBN 13 : 9781912691593
  • ISBN 10 : 9781912691
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The star of this book is an extraordinary, bright-spirited, and entertaining six-year-old girl, called Little Vivvi, who experienced shocking abuse from within her family. Yet Little Vivvi lives within Vivian, a middle-aged woman. The challenging process of psychotherapy is laid bare, as Little Vivvi wrestles with overwhelming memories of childhood abuse. Alongside talking therapy, energy treatment, which she calls Wooshing, is utilised to astonishing effect, becoming the enigmatic ingredient that finally enables Little Vivvi to find relief from the distress and fear that had dominated her existence. As therapy appears to draw to a close, Izzy appears. A very sensitive, thoughtful and mature eight-year-old, Izzy too needs love, support and treatment to speak about her trauma. After overcoming her understandable distrust, Izzy enables an exceptional ending to the therapeutic journey, far beyond anything Vivian and her therapist, Gill, could have dreamed.

Little Vivvi and Izzy will make you want to laugh out loud as well as to cry. Their story teaches so much about suffering, dissociation and survival. Their aim is to enlighten, inspire and offer hope to others through reading their incredible stories, which reveal the astonishing power of the girls within.

Reviews and Endorsements

This is an inspirational book which tells gripping, interweaving real-life stories. First, it is about the respectful relationship between a thoughtful therapist and a courageous patient (and parts of a patient) with dissociative identity disorder. Second, with the subject hardly included in UK trainings, it helpfully shows Gill Frost’s responsible and reflective ways of making sense of what is happening, the hopes and hurdles. Third, we witness the hard work and integrity of all “the girls within” as they dare to tell their stories and offer their pieces of the jigsaw. At times harrowing, although never gratuitously, and ultimately hopeful, the unfolding account of “the girls within” will help professionals and survivors alike.
Dr Valerie Sinason, President of the Institute of Psychotherapy and Disability

Gill Frost, with her client Vivian and internal family, have written a remarkable book – a full and detailed account of a successful but lengthy psychotherapy of dissociative identity disorder (DID), resulting in a harmonious association of previously dissociated personality parts. This engaging narrative describes the inevitable challenges to the therapist’s assumptions, theoretical framework, and technique presented by DID – and the need to adapt and respond to the particular traumas, roles and functions, and age-specific cognitions of different dissociative alters. A crucial component was the use of an energy psychology modality, known as AIT but internally called ‘Whooshing’. The resulting text is a very significant contribution to the literature in the three areas of trauma, DID, and energy psychotherapy.
Dr Phil Mollon, psychoanalyst and author of Shame and Jealousy: The Hidden Turmoils, Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy, and The Fragile Self: The Structure of Narcissistic Disturbance

It takes a unique kind of courage to go to deep places with a client who becomes a constellation of clients. Gill Frost has that courage, allied to the bravery of Vivian, Little Vivvi, Izzy, and others. The result is a compelling account of therapy that touches the soul.
Alistair Ross, Associate Professor – Psychotherapy, Oxford University

This book is a gift to people living and working with dissociative identity disorder. Thank you to Vivian and all her internal family for allowing Gill to share their incredible journey. The genuineness and power of this story captures the innate drive to survive a childhood that is beyond horrendous.
‘Gill’s honesty with her own challenging journey, which runs parallel to that of Vivian and her internal family, allows the reader to share her roller coaster of emotions: elation, confusion, total despair, sadness, frustration, and, at times, peace and joy.
‘Clinicians reading this book will welcome how Gill continually emphasises the importance of the therapeutic relationship with all the parts and how, when this is firmly established and in partnership with Vivian, she introduces advanced integrative therapy (AIT), “Wooshing” to little Vivvi and “Calming Therapy” to Izzy. This offers a unique insight into how other therapies can support the core therapy when the conditions are right. Gill’s respectful curiosity and loving approach at all times is validating for each part, enabling trust to be experienced for the first time in their lives. Her firm and consistent boundaries, which are at the heart of the healing process, provide the bedrock on which this amazing journey unfolds. Making the links to difficulties in adult Vivian’s life helps us all to understand the impact of unresolved childhood abuse that continues to have an impact on every hour of every day.
‘This book has captured the way different personalities have developed, how important each role was in survival, and how logical they are within the context of Vivian’s childhood. The beauty of this story is tangible on every page and I want to thank Vivian, Little Vivvi, Izzy, and the other parts for allowing us to hear and share their story. I also want to thank the whole team because this book will offer hope and insight to survivors, therapists, and many others. Through the humane storytelling, we can all, whatever depths we plunge to, know things can change and to always hold onto this.
“Tough emotions are our contact with life,” says Susan David, psychologist – be mindful of this when reading this book.
Melanie Goodwin, co-founder and chair of First Person Plural

Table of Contents

Introduction: Distant memories – devastated lives

Part I: The comings and goings of Little Vivvi
1. First meeting
2. New room
3. Trauma treatment
4. Telephone talks
5. Greek tragedy
6. The aftermath
7. The problem with being a girl
8. Dark nights
9. Christmas 2013
10. Cabin fever
11. Preparing ground
12. Breaking news
13. The fallout
14. The three faces of Vivian
15. Just Angry
16. New boundaries
17. Increasing integration
18. The book
19. An exorcism
20. The fear of being alone
21. Role reversal
22. Mothers and daughters
23. Team work
24. Talk! Talk!

Part II: And then there was Izzy
25. Black shadows of the night
26. Striking a deal
27. Out of hiding
28. Belief after betrayal
29. Poor Baby
30. A slipped disc
31. Internal family systems
32. The joy of being inside out
33. Night terrors
34. A burning rage
35. Down to the wire
36. Beyond the chequered flag

Epilogue by Vivian
The last word from Little Vivvi
Family trees
About the author

About the Author(s)

Gill Frost started her career as a teacher and went on to be a counsellor and psychotherapist for 35 years. Her first therapeutic training and work experience was with RELATE, where she worked mainly as a couples counsellor for 10 years. It was at this point that Gill decided to study for a masters degree in psychodynamic counselling, at the University of Birmingham, in order to work at greater depth with individuals. Gill’s degree opened up opportunities for her to work as a student counsellor and trainer at Warwick and Coventry Universities for several years. It also enabled her to return to the University of Birmingham as a clinical tutor and lecturer, on the same course where she had been a student.

It was over 20 years ago that Gill set up in private practice. During this time she worked with a growing number of clients who presented with childhood trauma and abuse. As a result, she became increasingly interested in dissociative disorders, including dissociative identity disorder (DID).

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