Understanding trauma with respect to power, resistance and liberation

The original title for this book was Power, resistance and liberation in therapy with survivors of abuse, oppression and discrimination: To have our hearts broken. As well as this being too many words for a title, I decided to engage with the very popular concept of trauma rather than bypassing it. In this chapter I will look into the concept of trauma through power, resistance and liberation lenses, focusing particularly on people who experience ‘psychosis’ (also referred to as people with severe and enduring mental health problems) as well as people who are survivors of war, organised violence and torture. Given that trauma has become shorthand for the effect of all types of painful experiences, it seems important to engage critically with this term, to go deeper into the assumptions that guide our practice around it, before going beyond it. I start by reflecting on trauma with respect to power (abuse), resistance (renewal) and ‘psychosis’. I then attempt to go beyond the concept of trauma to reflect on social, cultural and political dimensions of human experience. Despite focusing on these client groups I believe this critical approach to our theories and practices is applicable to any issues emerging in our work.

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