Startts, Austinmer, Australia
When our clients arrive from a different culture they embody their culture but they also embody their trauma, their attitudes and their preferences. Some preferences are innate but others are learnt from the people and culture around us. But what of those elements of the culture that contribute to or are responsible for the trauma? How do we remain culturally sensitive while helping resolve the trauma and build a stronger sense of self when what we may also be undermining cultural foundations?
In working with the physiology in body-oriented therapies we often work ‘beneath’ cultural biases. The physiology of us all responds in similar ways – the tissues themselves will have a preference of movement – revealed by ease or relaxation. In paying attention to the movement preference of the tissues and what the client feels, we assist them to experience more of themselves within their body. There is a physical and emotional component which reflects the arousal and resilience within the autonomic nervous system.
This is interpreted, amongst other things, through our cultural lens which also impacts on the psychology. But what happens when we start to develop a stronger sense of ourselves and that is in conflict with the cultural norms we have been embedded in? How do we find those aspects of culture which support and nurture us while undermining the aspects that keep us tied in a trauma cycle?
Using the case study of a young Iraqi woman, the dilemma that arose as she developed a stronger sense of herself and started to find herself in conflict with the cultural expectations will be discussed. The impact on the practitioner when one’s own cultural assumptions are exposed and challenged within that meeting of a shared ‘cultural space’ will also be explored.