“Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life.” — Dr. Judith L. Herman, “Trauma and Recovery”
A common response to traumatic episodes is a “freeze” state, a sort of paralysis that affects the whole person - mind, body and emotions. Traditional therapy requires survivors to verbalize their experiences, however, this can be impossible or have a re-traumatizing effect on the individual. Creative Art Therapy (CAT) allows victims to express their “frozen” feelings on an emotional, non-verbal level, on their own timing, and outside their traumatized cores.
The Changing Room 11 has developed a group framework, providing a safe space for the individual survivor to find gentle ways to heal themselves:
The 11 Challenges©, a step-by-step program designed as a platform for self-examination leading to a deeper understanding of why being a victim of violence, abuse or discrimination is so repetitive in nature. It serves as a transformative journey of holistic healing in a safe space where group participants and facilitators work eye-to-eye.
Our ‘Companion Network’, a system of mutual aid is cultivated within the group in which the person who has already benefitted from the support of the group work assists the newcomer.
One of the factors that leads to an individual relapsing into newly abusive situations is the fact that they find themselves on their own after counseling and therapy, recreating the mental isolation so familiar to the survivor. It is vital that the individual finds a network in which there is a sense of safety, belonging, and consistency.
The Changing Room 11 provides this platform for the survivor, not only to find this type of network for the duration of the 12-week group work, but beyond. Each participant is made aware of the importance their healing will have for the next survivor. They will be the one to encourage, guide, and support within the framework of future groups. The healing individual finds immense self-esteem in the fact that they are not only part of something larger, but capable of helping others. We are creating awareness of the impact the recovering survivor has on her fellows.
By working with Dance/Movement Therapy, clients reconnect with their body. They develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions, subsequently releasing traumatic shock, which is central to transforming PTSD and the wounds of trauma.
By incorporating Creative Art-Therapy into the group work, we address its effectiveness to assist in overcoming denial and shame. We draw on its capacity to tap into trauma memory on a sensory plane rather than a verbal one.