How to Accept Adapt Advance, Learn, Encourage Empower Enable


On this page:

  1. Intro (this section)
  2. AAA ➡️Accept, Adapt, Advance
  3. L&A ➡️Learn and Affect
  4. EEE ➡️Encourage, Empower, Enable

This article presents work in progress. It is experience-driven, rather than being based in theory. It is a precursor and lays the foundations for comments and reflections on different therapeutic approaches to treating dissociative disorders.

We are working on finding scientific evidence that can explain parts of this process, especially in the learning-epigenetics dynamics which is probably the least understood healing mechanism in this solution. We will post updates as we progress our learning.

We include experiences from both our and our peers’ healing journeys. You can find more of our posts on Quora

We divide the healing process into three distinct component groups:

  1. Validate the struggle: Accept, Adapt, Advance
  2. Catalysts for change: Learn and Affect
  3. Find purpose: Encourage, Empower, Enable

and each of these has its components.

All healing has those three characteristics. The difference with deep-rooted hurt is that it is cyclical alternating relapses with periods of remission.

It is kind of like riding a rollercoaster. We heal and have good days, weeks, and even months when we feel on top of the world. However that respite is only temporary, and then there are phases when old pains might sneak back up on you.

When that happens, we simply return to our trusted healing process. It’s all about taking it one step at a time, learning the ropes of what helps you feel better, and having people around who get what you’re going through.

Sometimes, it might feel like we’re back at square one, but that’s just part of the journey. Each time we go through it, we pick up new tricks and get a little stronger. It’s not about fixing everything all at once; it’s about growing, healing bits at a time, and helping each other out along the way.

So, let’s have a look a little more in detail, especially the role of validation as well as finding a purpose for the pain.

Accept, Adapt, Advance

Psychologists from diverse schools of thought may change the terminology but roughly agree on these steps. I would like to look at them from a peer perspective and adapt the language to make it more acceptable to the sensitivities of survivors.


Before we can start healing, we need to accept that there is an issue. There are difficulties in embracing our problems because it means we are “broken” in some way. That’s what society believes, and that is a form of insensitive victim blaming we internalise so destructively.

Acceptance does not necessarily mean that we do not attempt to change a situation. It simply means that we acknowledge, validate, and allow ourselves to open it up to analysis.

It is a terrifying step that does not get any easier as we become older and wiser. At the beginning of our journey we do not want to believe that something is wrong, as we progress we find it difficult to understand how there can be so much stuff … where is it buried? Is it real? It can’t have happened to me … And sometimes even believe, that we don’t need to deal with the past because we are strong and stand tall and proud.

Yet that first step is pivotal, it is key to healing. It is finding a wound and assessing how many stitches it may need, so to speak.


To understand how to adapt we need to also understand the resolution lifecycle. This will require a special post, and that is a placemark to ensure we don’t forget!

When we have an issue, we try and find ways to manage, the so-called coping mechanisms. The combination of issues and coping mechanisms should not cross a threshold of discomfort that each of us determines of our judgement and volition. Everybody is free to determine what level of disruption to life they are willing to handle, and even its definition is a very personal matter.

So, the adaptation phase aims to find temporary solutions that will be non-destructive to implement while we look for more permanent solutions.

This phase in our experience is very experimental and needs to be approached with a sense of adventure and curiosity. Now that the terrorising experiences of the acceptance phase are behind us, we can be the makers of our destiny.

This is usually the stage when we start looking for help in some way, whether formal or informal.


The simple train of thought of accepting and finding ways of adapting, enables us to progress, even if just cognitively and temporarily. In recovery we treasure the small gains, we value and savour the insignificantjoys that others find superfluous.

This is when we can reflect on our strength, our resolve, our determination, and anything else that we can draw inspiration from.

Within a few iterations, this process will facilitate making helpful changes in our lives to support us on our journey.

Learn and Affect

There is no linear progression on a healing journey. Learning happens every moment if we allow ourselves to do so. Curiosity has become a buzzword in the world of therapy nowadays, and quite frankly, better late than never.

If we validate our pain with an open mind, there are many growth opportunities. Observing, connecting, talking, researching in some form …

It is generally recognised that learning enables epigenetic changes and is conducive to healing … so it is important to keep it up!

Encourage, Empower, Enable

I believe that we glorify healing for the wrong reasons. Especially when dealing with trauma and ACE survivors.

We tend to congratulate people because of how well they have done, and how far they have come.

While that is true and should be applauded, one area of healing that is being usually ignored is “purpose“. Therapists tend to assume that the purpose of the suffering is that there are bad people who hurt others. Some spiritual people believe that the purpose of the pain is Karma or some mysterious Universal Debt. And there are many other ways to justify the pain suffered with victim blaming.

Yet, everybody who has been through the bad stuffand who has learned something from it has in turn gone out into the world to help others. Not everybody does it formally or consciously. It is a look, a smile, an acknowledgement, a tear shed for someone else, a hug given, and all little behaviours that are repeated daily and that give succour to others.

That is what gives purpose to the pain and to the healing, in my opinion, we:

  1. Encourage
  2. Empower
  3. Enable

others to embark on the same healing journey as we do! That gives us purpose, that validates our pain as well as our healing, that helps learning and healing. It’s a win-win.


This post is intended simply as an introduction to this area of our work and research.

We have been looking into different therapeutic models, and they all are great. However, how do we decide which one is suitable or most effective?

We cannot rely on expert opinion simply because setting goals is a very personal matter. Each of us has different boundaries and sensitivities, different perspectives and intentions, different timescales and needs.

Therapy follows schools of thought, ideologies, and theories imagined by professionals whose expertise is wonderful but limited to reading and observations.

We need to abstract a level with a person-centric approach. What are the steps necessary for healing? What are the differences and commonalities between neurotypes and experiences? How do we identify the potential for disaster and the likelihood of success in healing? How do we define healing? Etc.

Healing is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak.

Please let me know your thoughts. What constitutes a healing journey?