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Each section can be a flip chart, to introduce ideas and terms (or brainstorm if people are clear - if the group has experienced trauma and is a safe group you could brainstorm symptoms) and ask for reflection, as almost all of us have experienced this sort of thing in one way or another.
SAFETY FIRST - if you are not clear about your care and concern for the person, or you are in it for anything besides healing, don't bother - you will possibly do more harm than good. Be centered, be healed yourself, do not do this work if you are traumatized unless you are well into reconnection and won't damage yourself.
HEALERS BEWARE - you will be taking "energy" from the person - you need to pass that through your body - do not hold onto the others person's story or emotions - do not retell stories - let them pass from your memory. When you shit, meditate on the "bad energy" leaving your body and going into mother earth, who is generous enough and compassionate enough to take it. If you start to have bad dreams or other symptoms - GET HELP YOURSELF. I started dreaming about houses burning after listening to Kosova eviction stories - that's the time to stop and heal.
Do this work away from action, in a place where no further trauma possibility exists if at all possible. Possibly match genders, age, language - if you are using an interpreter MAKE SURE the interpreter knows everything in this note - do not use an interpreter with an alterior motive (some Yugoslavian mothers were demanding that their raped daughters "tell the doctor how you were raped" etc. be very careful with interpreters)
Essentially the debrief does two things - it gives the person an opportunity to discover their triggers and it gives the helper a chance to teach some coping skills.
Use the phrase "back then", "at that time", 'when it happened" over and over. You are establishing a clear division between past and now.
Ask the person to describe the event, starting with what they saw, heard, smelled, tasted, touched - all senses - notice minute details, especially sounds and smells - these are the triggers people are not aware of (the smell of coffee, the smell of cigarettes, the sound of turkish music, etc.) THEN ask about what sort of thoughts were going through their mind. THEN ask what sorts of feelings the person had. Thoughts and feelings can be deep triggers, as can smell and sound and color.
If the person goes back into heavy breathing, crying, etc. back off, give them time, offer touch if they allow it (ask first), breathe.
You can say "one way to get some control if you need it is to wiggle your toes, count things around the room, say the names of colors of things in the room, look at the ceiling because it's hard to cry when you look up". These are immediately effective ways for people to get out of their trauma memories.
As the person tells their story make mental or written notes about what sounds like triggers even if they don't seem to think that those perceptions were important.
Only when they are done talking about the event to their satisfaction do you want to proceed.
Look over the list and ask how the person feels when they see..., hear..., think about..., feel .... (the particular trigger).
One thing we can remind ourselves is that today's (trigger, for example cigarette smell) is not the same as the one you smelled back at that time
Another coping skill is to have the person "visualize a videotape recorder (VCR) with a tape of the event -- imagine it is across a river or a very large room -- imagine a remote control in your hand -- stop the tape, rewind, play the tape -- stop the tape and press eject -- visualize putting the tape on a shelf -- pick a name for the tape -- when you think of the event, think of the name of the tape and think about it on the shelf in a box"
In a group, people can share their coping tricks and share their symptoms and their successes at overcoming symptoms. Groups can work well but need strong ground rules, and lots of safety to be useful.
Final note - trauma is complex and made complex by "captivity" - longer captivity does other deeper things, captivity that requires injuring another or be killed (men forced to rape or bite off penises of their fellow captives, children forced to kill animals) break the spirit and create robotic zombies. Prisoners best mentally survive by maintaining "connection" even if it's just tapping a few times a day on bars to let others know the connection exists. The JAIL SOLIDARITY DEMAND to not be separated is very important for this reason.
That's it - I'm reluctant to write this, but it's important, and I don't feel like "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing". I'm committed to correcting this note if want to add something or correct something. When we as a culture can understand trauma we can see more clearly how much MILITARY TRAINING (BASIC TRAINING) is based on traumatizing individuals in order to gain mind control - AND WE CAN COUNTER IT. Teach trauma healing!
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