Exploring drawing as a tool for externalising and re-authoring conversations with children who have experienced trauma

Trangos, Katherine Milota (2017-03)

Thesis (MEdPsych) --Stellenbosch University, 2017

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Given the high rates of abuse, violence, crime, life-threatening diseases and accidents in South Africa, the experience of trauma is a reality faced by a sobering number of youths in our country. Due to the various maladaptive and lifelong implications of unresolved trauma, there is a dire need to address trauma experienced by our youth in a way that is both accessible and effective. Narrative therapy in the resolution of trauma, avoids re-traumatisation and ‘victimhood’, and rather focuses on generating self-agency in response to trauma. The use of expressive arts in the resolution of trauma, proposes that creative expression can aid individuals in expressing elements of their traumatic experience, which youths typically find difficult or are unwilling to express verbally. Realising the possible benefits of both approaches, this study sought to explore the use of drawings integrated into a narrative approach to the resolution of trauma, as experienced by youths. This qualitative study took place within a high school setting in an underprivileged community in the Western Cape, marked by high rates of crime and violence. The study followed a phenomenological design where five participants engaged with drawing while talking about their experiences of trauma through externalising and re-authoring conversations. It was found that all the participants initially held problem-saturated narratives dominated by the ‘victimhood’ of trauma. Through the approach, participants were able to discover their values; special abilities and goals for the future which allowed them to develop preferred stories of self-agency in the face of trauma – which in turn enhanced the development of self-efficacy in the participants. These transformations took place in a relatively short amount of time, which could have a positive influence on the resolution of trauma within a South African context, where psychological support services are vastly limited. Four participants found no direct value in the drawing component of the process and explained this according to having a preference for verbal communication and that they felt that they could not express themselves through drawing. One participant found value in drawing component, where she reported that it aided her in talking about the difficult experience. As an unexpected finding, participants found value in an alternative creative activity that allowed them to symbolically represent their preferred stories, thus indicating that future research should explore other forms of creative outlets suited to the individual within a narrative approach to the resolution of trauma.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : In die lig van die hoë voorkoms van mishandeling, geweld, misdaad, lewensbedreigende siektes en ongelukke in Suid-Afrika, is traumatiese ervarings ‘n realiteit wat deel van ‘n groot aantal jeugdiges in ons land se lewens is. As gevolg van die verskeie disfunksionele en lewenslange effekte wat onopgeloste trauma tot gevolg kan hê, is daar ‘n dringende behoefte om trauma by jeugdiges aan te spreek op toeganklike en effektiewe wyses. Die gebruik van narratiewe terapeutiese beginsels tydens die aanspreek van trauma, vermy her-traumatisering en die verskynsel van ‘slagofferskap’, en fokus eerder op die daarstel van self-agentskap in reaksie tot trauma. Die gebruik van ekspressiewe kunsvorme gedurende die aanspreek van trauma, stel dat kreatiewe uitdrukking individue behulpsaam kan wees om elemente van hul traumatiese ervaringe te kan uitdruk. Dit is soms vir jeugdiges baie moeilik of iets wat hulle nie mondeling wil doen nie. Die moontlike voordele van beide hierdie benaderings het gelei tot die huidige studie waarvan die doel was om ondersoek in te stel na die integrasie van die gebruik van tekeninge en ‘n narratiewe benadering tot die suksesvolle aanspreek van trauma soos deur jeugdiges ervaar. Die kwalitatiewe studie is onderneem by ‘n hoërskool in ‘n minderbevoorregte gemeenskap in die Wes-Kaap, waar daar ‘n hoë voorkoms van misdaad en geweld is. Die navorsingsontwerp was ‘n fenomenologiese ontwerp, met vyf deelnemers wat geteken het terwyl hulle oor hul traumatiese ervarings gepraat het deur eksternaliserende - en her-skrywingsgesprekke. Bevindinge het aangedui dat al die deelnemers aanvanklik probleem-deurdrenkte narratiewe gehuldig het wat oorheers was deur die ‘slagofferskap’ van trauma. Deur hierdie formaat van gesprekvoering kon die deelnemers hul waardes ontdek, spesiale vermoëns, asook doelstellings vir die toekoms. Hierdie kon hulle in staat stel om verkose narratiewe van agentskap in ‘n trauma situasie te ontwikkel, en dit het weer ‘n gevoel van selfwerksaamheid bevorder. Hierdie veranderinge het na vore gekom binne ‘n relatiewe kort tydperk, wat belowende moontlikhede vir die aanspreek van trauma binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks bied, veral aangesien sielkundige ondersteuning in Suid-Afrika besonder beperk is. Vier deelnemers het egter aangedui dat hulle nie die teken komponent van die interaksie as waardevol ervaar het nie. Hulle het verduidelik dat hulle verbale gesprekvoering verkies en dat hulle voel dat hulle nie hulself kon uitdruk deur tekeninge nie. Een deelnemer het die teken komponent wel waardevol gevind, sy het gerapporteer dat dit vir haar gehelp het om te praat oor moeilike ervaringe. ‘n Onverwagse bevinding was dat die deelnemers gehou het van ‘n alternatiewe kreatiewe aktiwiteit wat hulle in staat gestel het om hul persoonlike stories simbolies aan te bied. Dit wil dus voorkom asof toekomstige navorsing ander vorme van kreatiewe aktiwiteite wat moontlik in die narratiewe benadering tot die aanspreek van trauma by jeugdiges gebruik kan word, kan ondersoek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/101056
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