Experiencing trauma can be intrusive, life changing and, at time, life threatening. Though the stimulus that caused the trauma may be removed from the victim’s life, the severe after affects remain long after danger has passed. Experiencing trauma can lead to the person feeling anxious, hyper vigilant, irritated, angry and disoriented without explanation. Other effects of trauma are related to problems in cognition (remembering, and focusing), as well as somatic symptoms (inexpiable aches or paralysis). Trauma, in itself, is a dissociative disorder (PTSD) which disables the person from fully inhabiting their body and having control over body, mind and emotions.
Working with trauma in therapeutic settings can be difficult when taking into account the fact that trauma is stored as sensations and emotions and not as narratives. Art therapy, as well as expressive arts therapy, however, offers an alternative to talk therapy and how narratives are told.
Emily Seagrave, in her article Healing trauma through art-based interventions explores body scans as an alternative to working with trauma. Seagrave, explains that body scans combine “bodily experience with visual artistic expression” with the end goal of permitting the client to openly express what and where they are feelings without using words. Simply stated, “the ultimate goal of body scan is to assist the individual in understanding how trauma affects the body and to teach that trauma reactions are actually a physical response to stressful situations.”