Monday, June 27, 2011

Dr. Kathleen Young - Talking vs. Processing in Trauma Therapy

This is a very good post on the importance of therapeutic alliance in trauma therapy. In my opinion, no client should be asked to talk about the trauma until there is a safe relationship created with the therapist. As Dr. Young explains, it can simply cause retraumatization.

Talking vs. Processing in Trauma Therapy

This post was inspired by a Twitter conversation I had with the illustrious cartoonist of all things therapy related, @TherapyTales, about this Tweet:

There us a difference between “telling” the story of trauma and “processing” through the trauma. One brings more pain-the other relief. -@zebraspolkadots

When @TherapyTales offered to draw an accompanying ‘toon if I wrote a post on the subject, how could I refuse? The Tweet resonated with me as I do see this difference in my work with trauma survivors. What is the difference? What do trauma therapists mean when we talk about “processing” trauma? How is this different from talking about it?

Some trauma survivors come into therapy unable to share their stories. Others may recount their traumatic experiences freely, but in a manner that appears disconnected. It seems as if they are talking about someone else (and in the case of dissociative identity disorder, they may really experience it that way). In these instances the facts are relayed without accompanying emotion and out of context. This kind of talking about trauma does not promote healing and in some cases may even be retraumatizing. The goal of processing trauma by any form of therapy is to be able to decrease the high intensity emotional charge while creating meaning.

Go read the rest of the post.

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