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Case Studies

We each have a unique and valuable story to tell. The following stories illustrate the power of the therapeutic space to heal from trauma, be truly present today and thrive into the future. To protect their privacy all identifying factors have been changed including their names, ages, and genders. The stories are shared with their permission and approval.

COUNSELLING

Anna’s Story

 

55 year old Anna* recognized that she had been managing as best she could with the impact of childhood family violence but now that her children had grown and left home she felt it was her time to truly heal from trauma.

Anna was provided a warm and gentle space for her to revisit her memories at her own pace, ensuring that she was not flooded or re-triggered. Anna was held in her exploration of her trauma triggers and identified that she would often dissociate when overwhelmed. This would result in Anna missing out on many present moments leading to self-loathing and shame.

Anna was supported to explore ways to strengthen self-compassion and empathy, soothing her hurt inner child. Anna practiced how to ground and protect herself from the triggers whilst still remaining fully connected to those she loved.

 

Anna was able to reconcile her past experience, acknowledge the impact it had and then remain present with love for herself and others.

ART THERAPY

Jake’s Story

 

10 year old Jake* was referred by his Support Coordinator for Art Therapy to work towards his goal of strengthening his social skills that had been impacted by ADHD and ASD. Jake had difficulty interacting with his friends at school and found it hard to describe his emotions with words often causing high anxiety and frustration.

Jake loved creating vibrant, expressive paintings which demonstrated the depth of his feelings. Claire was able to provide containment and reflect her understanding of his emotions. Claire wondered with him about how we could explain his experiences in words. Jake found his own solutions and started using his words. Jake also learned how to regulate his breathing so he felt less anxious.

As Jakes sessions continued his images became more constructed and contained. Jakes interactions with Claire also developed into empathic collaboration. Jakes parents reported that after his sessions he developed stronger friendships, engaged well in class and asked for support before he became overwhelmed.

Jake felt heard and understood as well as fully accepted for his unique qualities that made him special.

Michael’s Story

 

49 year old Michael* worked for many years in the armed forces and then as a police officer. Michael presented himself to the world as strong, capable, and silent. Inside Michael felt depressed and anxious all the time, unable to sleep without night terrors and increasingly withdrawn from his young family. Michael knew that he was surviving but not thriving and wanted that to change. Talking therapy only helped to a certain point but he still felt unable to soothe the tension he constantly felt in his body. 

Michael used to exercise regularly, but it was often punishing and caused injuries. Michael knew that exercise was helpful but felt unsure how to even do that safely. Michael started the Trauma Focused Weightlifting program to explore how to re-engage effectively with exercise and find ways to heal his experience of chronic trauma.

To keep him safe, Michael’s jobs required him to overdevelop behaviours such as hypervigilance and risk assessment, but those behaviours were no longer required and now prevented him from being self-aware. Claire encouraged Michael to tune into the communication coming from his mind, body and spirit as he performed the powerlifting program. Michael’s attention was drawn to his reactions when triggered such as the nervous system’s descent into fight mode when a loud noise was heard. Slowing down Michael’s breathing and controlling movement tempo gave Michael enough time to listen to his body and choose his response when triggered.

 

Michael completed the program feeling empowered and safe within himself with better sleep, manageable anxiety and a wide smile as he engaged meaningfully with the people he loved.  Michael returned home to himself after years of separation.

TRAUMA FOCUSED WEIGHTLIFTING

Sarah’s Story

 

32 year old Sarah* was referred by their family member for Art Therapy when they noticed that Sarah was seeming increasingly challenged by their experience of schizophrenia and intellectual delay. Sarah was shut down and withdrawn at times then at other times would display bouts of anger and frustration. Sarah spoke of feeling unlovable and lonely.

Sarah was welcomed into the creative space and was given the opportunity to choose her art and craft material. Sarah loved collage and clay. Squishing clay and tearing paper channeled Sarah’s experience of frustration and as she engaged with the material, she spoke of how hard it was for her to accept her diagnoses. 

 

Sarah also attended a Hearing Voices group, which complemented the individual Art Therapy sessions, as this gave her a safe space to unpack her learning and integrate new ways of responding to her experience of hallucinations and delusions. Being able to speak about her experiences without judgement and create art pieces that deepened her understanding of herself was healing for Sarah.

Sarah recognized that to know herself as “good enough” was to accept and love herself for all her unique ways of being. Sarah strengthened her capacity to tolerate distress, engage meaningfully with her community and feel safe enough to start employment.

ART THERAPY
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