Trauma is a psychological and emotional response to an extremely distressing event or events. The definition of post trauma in the DSM (diagnosis manual) particularly focuses on impersonal trauma. Most trauma we see is interpersonal trauma occurring in relationships and attachments. Saakvitne defines psychological trauma as “conditions in which the individual’s ability to integrate his or her emotional experience is overwhelmed” (Pearlman and Saakvitne, 1995, p.60).
In the case of Lisa, trauma was affecting her sleep, thoughts, feelings and ultimately, having a big impact on her daily life. Dramatherapy provided her with a therapeutic space to explore and express trauma.
Lisa was referred to Dramatherapy to explore different ways to deal with emotions and how to understand them, aiming to help her to move forward in her recovery.
The Dramatherapist Lisa worked with, applied an integrated approach which incorporated a developmental model (EPR) which aims to enable individuals to re-experience stages of their development they may have missed out on or may have had blocked due to life experiences such as trauma, neglect and abuse. This was applied alongside a task skills model which provides individuals with the opportunity to learn and rehearse new ways of being.
When Lisa was asked to describe her Dramatherapy experience, this is what she said:
“I have enjoyed it and I don’t want it to end. It has been good having someone to talk to. I usually do not share feelings, to have someone who understands, and to have experienced similar things. I enjoy using the arts a lot and it has helped me to do things through art. Through using creativity, it has provided extra ways of working through things I have brought to therapy sessions. It has been helpful to find ways of expressing feelings that aren’t always direct. It has helped me to understand and acknowledge feelings.”
Ref: Pearlman, L.A., & Saakvitne, K.T. (1995). Trauma and the therapist: Countertransference and vicarious traumatization in psychotherapy with incest survivors. London: Norton
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