Intense Memory Processing: An Integrative Model Using Art and Psychotherapy to Resolve Traumatic Memory Content
P. A. Maves1, J. B. Schwab1 (1Boulder US)
The biphasic nature of post-traumatic reactions yields a combination of numbed and constricted, as well as intense, intrusive responses (Van der Kolk, 1987). As situations, including therapy, trigger these reactions, more anxiety builds with a concurrent inability to identify feelings (alexithymia) and with more intense memories coming to consciousness (Bowers, 1992). Johnson (1997) suggests that intense memory content may not be stored cognitively but instead they may take on a more photographic form. This presentation will utilize case studies and examples to show how the intense traumatic memories seen in complex trauma and dissociative disorders can be revealed and resolved using art therapy combined with psychotherapy. Art production allows the establishment of control, pacing and safety, with decreased memory intensity, so its content can be understood and integrated into the self (Wadeson, 1980). Additionally, the interactions between psychotherapeutic interventions and phenomenologically informed art therapy diminshes issues with content validity (Bowman, 1996). Questions and discussion will be encouraged in this presentation.