Workshop: Remembering Trauma, Freeing Imagination.
My psychotherapeutic approach is informed by a relational, process understanding of trauma, which sees the essence of emotional trauma as not solely rooted in painful, abusive and neglectful experiences, but in the absence of relational responsiveness to the individual’s reactive feeling states. Since the abusive relational contexts are unlikely to provide attuned responsiveness the resulting emotional states become an enduring source of lifelong trauma.
Trauma states are characterised by unbearable experience and unendurable levels of anxiety. The traumatised person has no option but to retreat from the traumatised state. My experience is that when trauma states emerge in the therapeutic relationship we are at an edge, a jagged edge, but an edge of authentic self experience that has not been able to be lived, articulated and thought about in relationship. I call these trauma states ‘unlived states’.
Imagination as I use it here is rooted in ‘bodymind’, a kind of non-dualistic, phenomenological, being in the world, involving processes of perception, communication and self expression through body, sensation, imagery, processes which are disrupted in the experience of trauma. ‘Remembering trauma’ in the therapeutic relationship takes us to that level of experiencing in the present and is evocative for the therapist. We explore how therapist’s awareness of and capacity to be with sensory, imaginative experience expands her emotional availability and responsiveness, providing a pathway. Each person will have their own starting point.
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