February 22, 2020

A Therapeutic Method Based on Values, Not Dysfunction

“Before she even knew what was happening, he was already on her. He punched her in the face, smashed her head against the wall, and dragged her through the corridor by her hair. The pain was searing; the fear, overwhelming. When help finally arrived, after what seemed like an eternity, the damage had already been done. The effects of the beating were both physical and psychological. The onset of trauma, at first muted by shock, would soon unfold in ways unimaginable to her. Her illusion of safety was shattered. This was her job. She was this person’s caretaker, an authority figure in a building full of authority of figures. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to be safe here, but the young man she was caring for was severely disturbed and, for reasons that will forever remain unknown, he turned on her, and her life would never be the same.

Alice was a teacher’s aide in a small-town high school working with students who had special needs. She was good at her job and cared deeply about her students, but Alice happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and suffered an astonishing trauma as a result. Moreover, this was but the most recent traumatic event in a long line of abuse going back to her early childhood, when the adults in her life were doing everything but protecting her from the horrors of the world, her neighbourhood, and her own home.

The questions regarding Alice’s situation are obvious and paralysing. How does she come back from such a horrifying incident? How can she possibly lead a fulfilling, meaningful life when she comes from such an abusive, overly critical, neglectful childhood that never allowed her to build trust or learn healthy coping skills? How does Alice, or anyone, manage life while suffering with intense pain, let alone recover from it?”

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