An exploration of the role of integration in healing developmental trauma
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Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Developmental trauma occurs at a stage of development when the self is most vulnerable and hence leaves a lasting legacy on the personality. The symptoms associated with developmental trauma are ‘nonverbal iterations’ in which there is no coherent narrative. The memory of early trauma is stored implicitly in the body and it is these implicit memories that manifest as somatosensory fragments, such as distressing body sensations and images. In developmental trauma, the emerging self protects itself by splitting off overwhelming experiences, in the process of dissociation, with the result that the personality becomes split and fragmented. In order to resolve this kind of trauma, this early protective process must be reversed – the dissociated must become associated again. The split off and dissociated parts of the personality must be linked together through integration which can be understood as something that lies at the heart of health and healing. The ‘parts paradigm’ is an effective model for working with this kind of presentation. In this process, the client is facilitated to have an internal dialogue to link different parts together. The non-traumatised, healthy part of the self, offers empathy and compassion to the traumatised ‘child-parts’ and in this process creates internal secure attachments by providing reparative experiences that serve as an antidote to the traumatic past.