Integrating narrative/poetic content with the professional literature relating to trauma, the author explored how writing poetry contributed to her recovery and growth following the murder of her sister. It was concluded that writing poetry helped to reduce internal conflict and restore psychological balance. Metaphors and symbols enabled the exploration of the author’s response to trauma, which in turn led to recovery and growth.
BMC Psychiatry. 2014 Oct 3;14:262. doi: 10.1186/s12888-014-0262-3.
Narrative exposure therapy (NET) is a brief, manualised treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It has been shown to have therapeutic benefits for a wide range of individuals and settings. This study, following our previous work applying the original NET in earthquake survivors, aimed to revise NET to be adaptable for treating PTSD after a natural disaster.
A randomised waiting-list controlled study was conducted with 30 adult participants with PTSD who were randomly allocated to NET (n = 10), revised NET (NET-R; n = 10) or a waiting list condition (WL; n = 10). Participants in NET and NET-R received treatment immediately; those in the WL condition received NET-R treatment after a waiting period. All groups were assessed on PTSD, general distress, anxiety, depression, social support, coping and posttraumatic change before and after treatment and three-month follow-up.
Compared with WL, both NET and NET-R groups showed significant reductions in PTSD and related symptoms. Significant increases were found in posttraumatic growth, active coping and perceived social support. The WL group showed similar improvements after treatment. Further reductions on PTSD symptoms were found at three months, showing that NET-R is as effective as the original NET in treating post-earthquake traumatic symptoms in adult Chinese earthquake survivors.
NET-R is a feasible and cost-effective intervention for Chinese earthquake survivors. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings in other survivor populations, and with larger samples and over longer periods. This study highlighted the value of oral narrative approach, which is well-accepted and useful in the context of single natural disaster and lower- income area.
“Starting with the same event or moment you wrote about […], go deeper. Place your intention and attention on this story and focus particularly on its meaning: What are the take-aways for you? What is the learning offered you in this experience? How can you apply action that takes steps toward your own healing, growth and change?”
Kathleen Adams, “Your Brain on Ink”, p. 95
“The logs to stoke the fire are added each time I remember and write the cheesecake story, which I’ve done dozens of times, always with intention and attention. I observe myself in the telling, always asking: “What does this story teach me today?” Each time I feel the familiar wash of emotion: exhilaration, celebration, success, joy, connection, the thrill of risk, community. Each time it is inseparable from the cheesecake: I feel the creamy texture against the roof of my mouth, I taste the buttery crumb crust, I inhale the rich aroma of coffee in a thick blue mug”.
Kathleen Adams, in “Your Brain on Ink”, pp.94-95