The trauma story

The trauma story emerges as the centrepiece of any treatment approach. Every refugee patient has at least one traumatic experience that figures prominently in his or her life history. The trauma story is a living reality and is present for every patient. The trauma story is also present for the clinician. Yet, the story is elusive and difficult for both patient and doctor to share. Usually when the patient is ready to tell the trauma story, the clinician is not ready to hear it. Often when the clinician is ready for the patient to tell his or her story, the patient is unwilling. Therefore one of the major goals of psychotherapy with refugees is to allow the trauma story to emerge gently and become a familiar and acceptable theme which the refugee is not shamefully hiding from his or her therapist and ultimately his or her family and community.

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