Working with survivors of severe trauma involves hearing and “being with” stories of intense fear, shock and horror; a client’s trauma experience might be conveyed in words but it also becomes present in sessions in ways without words. Deb Gould will present a session with a client where she was left with powerful and disturbing images of the client’s experience of 10 years previous. Akin to the visual flashbacks the client reported, these images were also accompanied by somatic sensations similar to those preceding a dissociative episode.
The task of both working with these images in the service of the client’s recovery and protecting herself from psychological injury was a complex one that was negotiated over several months. Deb will discuss the processes that enabled a de-coupling from her own inner experience and an integration of the images into the client’s story: clinical supervision and personal psychotherapy (with a session of EMDR) were the essential initial steps. Parallel to these endeavours, a creative writing process proved most powerful in supporting her self-care.