Thursday, September 15, 2011

Relationship Repair

A client doing Art Therapy and relationship work.

In the trauma work that I do with children, teens and adults, I work with relationship repairs.  Broken relationships with parents, siblings, partners and friends need repair in order for the adult or child to move on.  The repair does not have to be face to face nor does the other person have to be alive.  The repair is for the adult or child who is still traumatized, stuck or hurt by the rupture to feel free in their lives.

The issues that emerge in one relationship will emerge again if not faced, expressed and resolved. That is why I do repair work, so the person does not blindly keep living through the same relationship nightmare or trauma.

For example, an abuse cycle needs to be broken so that every man in an abused woman’s life does not become a repeat of the original abusive husband.  Patterns can be reframed, and changed.

I need to work with how the client has internalized the problemic pattern (how they expect the pattern to be replayed and how they unconsciously keep reacting to their part of the pattern) and work with the external pattern with other people in their lives.

Mark Brady writes, “The relationship we repair with others, we simultaneously repair with ourselves.” Some of the children I see in my practice have disorganized brains due to brain injuries, FAS, ADHD, PTSD, Autism, etc.  This work can be done and needs to be done with all children that have had trauma with their birth parents or foster parents if they are still stuck in the re-actionment of the trauma.

I work with an amazing girl in her twenties who has complex health and mental problems due to serious abuse and neglect as a foster child.  She has very limited verbal skills but she repeats her abuse story over and over to anyone who will listen. When we talk about what happened to her as a child, I tell her that her foster mom is sorry for what she did. Her foster mom will never be here to tell her that to her face nor would she be able to apologize to her. But for my client, actually hearing the words from her foster mother is not as important as her needing to hear those words from me or anyone who she believes can talk for her foster mother.  In order to help my client move out of her trauma memory, I need to tell her what she needed to hear as a child. In a different situation relationship repair can happen by a parent telling a child years after an abusive situation how sorry and wrong they were for causing that child to suffer. Husbands can apologize to wives and wives can apologize to husbands.  Repairs happen when the child or adult can let go of a past hurt or pain and move forward.  There are many ways that this can happen. Sometimes hearing for the first time from a father that you were loved can be a powerful repair.

Knowing how your body holds the pattern from the original wounding is also important.  The client I talked about lashes out violently towards women whom remind her of her foster mother and is constantly looking for the signs that keep her tied to the past. I hope with her, even though she suffers from brain damage and serve trauma that she will hear my words of forgiveness from her foster mother deeply enough that we can reframe it and she can live in the present not her past.  This is part of the complex healing work that needs to be done.


nacherluver said...

Your work is so very important. I am glad that you do what you do. You are a gift.

Karen Wallace said...

Thank you so much for this lovely comment. Hugs Karen

Café Ciza said...

this is such a powerful and moving post. I completely agree with the comment above, you have a special gift in communicating the healing and it is a unique quality in articulating the broken pieces and how they all fit into bigger and healther picture. I am so glad I came across your blog!

ladaisi said...

Hello dear friend!

I never really thought about relationship art therapy before so this gave me so much to consider. How that would look, which family members, what we would paint. Someday this may just help us break through communication barriers.

Ladaisi Blog

Karen Wallace said...

Ladaisi, Good to hear from you! I love following your journey over seas! Yes I think art therapy can help in this area. Many childhood images and perceptions can be reworked, re-framed and re-visioned. Hugs Karen

Elena said...

How wonderfully special your gift is. You are touching those who most need it as well as inspiring those of us who read your words.

The Creative Beast said...

Karen, thank you for this wonderful post. I can see now that relationship therapy is a much needed tool for us all.

I wish you could offer online therapies for all the amazing work you do! I'm glad that you are sharing your meaningful observations with us at this blog =-)

Karen Wallace said...

Hello. I do distance therapy, usually by Skype or phone. I will email you with more information. Hugs Karen

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