MA Counselling Psychology thesis defense
Til we have Voices: A Feminist-Relational Approach to Understanding the Process of Healing and Becoming Whole Through Lifespan Integration Therapy
by: Elizabeth Chan
Supervisor: Dr. Janelle Kwee
Second Reader: Dr. Marvin McDonald
Third Reader: Dr. Mihaela Launeanu
Exam Chair: Dr. Bart Begalka
This study was designed to open up avenues for exploring the dismembering effects of trauma and the “re-membering” process of healing. Six research participants were selected for inclusion based on their experience of trauma, their exposure to Lifespan Integration therapy in working through trauma-related issues and their identification of felt shifts in therapy. Participants were engaged in a 60 to 90 minute semi-structured interview modeled after Elliot’s (2010) Change Interview. To foster the emerging truth of participants’ experience in a natural way, the research team and I utilized the Listening Guide, a feminist-relational approach to research praxis, through which we identified voices speaking about trauma and recovery. The voices were grouped into three categories: the voices of trauma’s dismembering effects, the voices of turning towards the pain and the voice of healing. Among the voices of trauma’s dismembering effects were disconnection, dissociation, impasse and pain. Voices of turning towards the pain included the voices of active acceptance and mourning. Finally, voices of healing included the voices of personal essence, integration, astonishment, agency and calm and peace. Examining these various voices and categories of voices, we traced a pattern of shifting from fragmentation, aloneness and numbness to wholeness, connection and presence. This progression highlights the fulfilled potential of personhood through the transformational process of healing in therapy. By arresting the transient and timid inclinations of a self that has been dismembered, we see that individuals are granted more permanent access to a range of embodied emotional, psychological even spiritual textures which they might otherwise experience only accidentally and occasionally. They are thereby able to grasp the elusively authentic, creative and spontaneous sides of their character and are suddenly available to a way of living which honours the fullness of human experience. The clinical, academic, and sociocultural implications of these findings center around lessening the oppressive sense within a person that their trauma is qualitatively symptom-based; they speak to us of a helpful vision for healing – one that encompasses the very principles of human architecture which has its origins in the notion that we are meant to be at home within ourselves.