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through new storylines change becomes possible

August 13, 2015

Describing Therapeutic Enactment, Patrice keats and Marla J Arvay write the following:

“From a narrative perspective, the self is constituted through language practices. Through storytelling, the narrative functions as a means of self-construction. Story construction is a way of coming to know oneself and one’s world; it is through new scripts or storylines that change becomes possible. The reconstruction of meaning in a story through the telling and re-telling in participation with others, allows changes in identity to occur. It is in this performance of languaging the self forth into the world that a person fashions, challenges, and reconstitutes identity at both intrapersonal and interpersonal levels of self-construction.
In narrative therapy, the therapist privileges a person’s lived experience in a changing world where subjective implicit meaning, reflexive thought, and multiple perspectives are the norm in co-constructed storing between therapist and client. …Pennebaker has done extensive studies on effectiveness of therapeutic journaling about trauma and other painful life experiences. His studies suggest that writing and re-writing in detail about the trauma story has a profound positive impact on both physical and emotional health.” (p.158)

“Sewell, Baldwin, and Williams (1998) have applied a narrative-constructivist approach using the Multiple Self Awareness model to a personal growth therapy group for women. Using autobiographical monologues and role-plays, the participants reported positive results in terms of self-awareness and personal growth.
In working through their trauma narrative, clients tell stories about fragmented experiences such as embodied (or disembodied) suffering, shattered beliefs, and emotional devastation. Often, clients are unable to develop a narrative that includes a continuous tale about the trauma experience and are thus left with a fragmented sense of self and a discontinuity in life. We believe that through the action of storying the fragments of a trauma experience during a re-enactment of the trauma story, clients are able to re-envision and reconstruct a more cohesive and integrated self-narrative.” (pp.158-159)

“Therapeutic enactment is a combined individual and group-based treatment approach created by Marvin Westwood in his work with traumatized veterans and peacekeeping soldiers. Westwood has also employed therapeutic enactment with clients experiencing a variety of clinical concerns such as complicated bereavement, traumatic loss, sexual assault, homicide, suicide, and childhood physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Although therapeutic enactment has its roots in psychodrama, therapeutic enactment is a pre-planned, structured experience that is action oriented and narratively based. Westwood et al. (2002) contend “more recent work has emphasized that the reliving through physical action is central to the facilitation of the participant’s experience of change” (p.226). Therapeutic enactment is an embodied story in action.” (p.159)

By restorying the traumatic event with the guide of a skilled facilitator, the storyteller can gain mastery over the trauma story. In essence, the storyteller restories the previously traumatized self and in doing so, reconstitutes a “post-trauma” self.” (p.180)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold mine) Patrice keats and Marla J Arvay ‘Chapter 8 Looking through the mask: transforming trauma by restorying the self through action’ pp.157-181 Studies in meaning 2. pace University press: New York. 2004

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