Profound Reservations

“I believe that the notion of healing practices based on the imperative of returning to the site of the abuse in order to re-experience this is a highly questionable notion, and, as well, dangerous…” Michael White – page 205 Chapter 7 Reclaiming our Lives from Trauma in Retelling the Stories of Our lives – Everyday Narrative Therapy to Draw inspiration and Transform Experience.
This is a short quote from a much longer quote in this new book just out by David Denborough. Michael explains why those who have been abused have developed “rather fantastic mechanisms’ to cope with abuse and that theirs has been “an extraordinary achievement”. When we ask them to return, we are dispossessing them of choice, entrapping them and asking them to reproduce “our culture’s phobia about flight”. We might be closing down the possibilities of honouring their special skills and qualities – the things that made it possible for them to “navigate through the dark hours of their lives and into the present”. It is hazardous to encourage or invite people to relive, revisit or re-experience memories of trauma and therapists who do so should be regarded with “profound reservations”.
This is a book for everyone, but can be particularly helpful for adoptees because of the nature of the approach to trauma, grief, loss and abuse. Adoptees need to be particularly careful in choosing how they deal with their losses, trauma and grief and in how they approach their healing and survival. Why make things harder or more painful for ourselves than they need to be by choosing inappropriate modalities and therapists who lack the knowledge or skills to assist us, but who attempt to foist on us what they do know even if it is not a good fit. I have recently had ‘rebirthing’ suggested to me by a ‘professional’ who clearly does not understand that this may be retraumatising, quite inappropriate and not useful. My problem is with what happened after birth, at the time of abrupt weaning and placement with strangers. Why wouldn’t it be? It is extraordinarily difficult sometimes to resist ignorance, to be informed and to know what is best and which is the right direction to take.

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4 thoughts on “Profound Reservations

  1. Well said. It took me 15 years to find a good therapist. She has not asked me to relive my trauma. Some that have in the past, particularly with EMDR suceeded in getting themselves fired.

    thank goodness we don’t have to relive it to heal. Very refreshing concept!

    • Yes thank goodness there are other ways to heal without hurting ourselves more. I’m glad you finally found someone. Next time I try it will be with a Narrative Therapist at the Dulwich Centre – go for the best!

  2. I tried co-counselling which was unique and new in Seattle where you retell your entire life (without lies or regret) and it was amazing. Sadly I have not found it anywhere in the East. It is so important adoptees do find the absolute best therapist… This is a great post Von – thank you!

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