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Dissertation Diary Part 5: Meeting my Sisters

Part 5 of Project Dissertation (For more context- please refer to Dissertation Diary Part 1)

<Please note that this “Dissertation Diary” 5 part blog post series is formatted very differently than the rest of my articles– much longer and more academic than the others…For other articles, please refer the right navigation panel of the site.>

It is one thing to rescue a sex trafficking victim, and it’s quite another thing to heal and restore a sex trafficking victim into proper functioning and into society. In light of the global problem of providing ample and effective aftercare to the millions that hopefully will be rescued out of the sex trafficking, I believe my study can help fill a gap in the existing body of research by addressing the topic of movement art as a therapeutic intervention for sex trafficking victims.

Movement arts/dance therapy has the unique potential of being particularly effective in the way it targets the body and the mind; meanwhile, finding ways to sensitively and effectively scale out this practice beyond the West, has the potential to be impactful. I will contribute to research examining aftercare shelters abroad, with a particular focus on examining what it takes to effectively democratize this intervention and transfer across cultural contexts, given the global nature of the sex trafficking industry and the resource limitations that we may encounter in aftercare settings.

The Proposal

In order to discover what a contextual approach to movement therapy look like in the Philippines sex trafficking aftercare setting, it will require traveling to the Philippines and finding out! My proposal is to partner with the Seattle based non-profit, “Arts Aftercare” and their partnerships with the Filipino aftercare shelters to host a set of movement art workshops and interactions with staff and sex trafficking survivors. The objective is to have a ‘train the trainer’ model where I work with my small team from the US to teach a basic movement arts workshop to a handful to aftercare staff members (from a few of the shelters in the Manila, Philippines area) at one main shelter and then take the rest of the week to travel to a few of the other shelters to see these staff members teach the sex trafficking survivors in their shelters. Inserted among this process will be plenty of individual and group interviews of both staff and the women living at the shelter to answer questions and to glean cultural and individual perspectives that will be so key to the qualitative exploratory research. More…

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Dissertation Diary Part 4: Healing Sexual Trauma through the Body

Part 4 of Project Dissertation (For more context- please refer to Dissertation Diary Part 1)

<Please note that this “Dissertation Diary” 5 part blog post series is formatted very differently than the rest of my articles– much longer and more academic than the others…For other articles, please refer the right navigation panel of the site.>

A Case for the Body

The notion of a body and soul or mind dichotomy has its origins in the teachings of Aristotle and Plato and has been long established in Western thought (Bertrando & Gilli, 2008). The prevalent notion was that body and mind were to be treated separately. The body doesn’t impact the mind, the mind doesn’t impact the body.

However, it was Rene Descartes that first introduced the notion that the body and mind are interrelated–that all affective and emotional conditions are primarily somatic in nature (Scaer, 2005). Instead of treating the body and mind as separate, they should be treated together.

Within the field of somatic psychology, various schools have taken different sides in the philosophical debate between body and mind (Aposhyan, 2004) (Chaiklin & Wengrower, 2009). Krantz, in her research on dance movement therapy for women, note that predominantly, most traditional psychotherapeutic approaches still lack any attention to the body or embodied features of clients’ psychosocial  experiences (Krantz, 1994).  Neurobiologists like Damasio and recent developments in affective and physiological neuroscience have suggested that the influence and causality of the mind affecting the body goes both ways (Krueger, 2002). More…

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Dissertation Diary Part 3: Sex Trafficking’s Impact on the Psyche

Part 3 of Project Dissertation (For more context- please refer to Dissertation Diary Part 1)

<Please note that this “Dissertation Diary” 5 part blog post series is formatted very differently than the rest of my articles– much longer and more academic than the others…For other articles, please refer the right navigation panel of the site.>

Silent Killer

The horror of sexual abuse and trafficking is not limited to the body only.

Sex trafficking includes captivity and often psychological brainwashing and emotional abuse that no doubt impacts the mental health of the victim in a myriad of ways (Clawson et al., 2008). Researchers, such as George Hu, have found across the board that the psychological consequences of those raped or battered are shared by those who have survived sex trafficking (Hu, 2011). Similar to Hu, Lois Carey concludes in her book, Expressive and creative arts methods for trauma survivors, that these consequences are predicated on the premise that multiple exposures to interpersonal trauma, such as abandonment, betrayal, physical or sexual assaults have consistent and predictable outcomes that impact functioning (Carey, 2006). When examining the effects of psychophysical expression on health and ‘dancing out trauma,’ Krantz found that depression, eating disorders, anxiety and panic attacks, conflictive relationships, and addiction are some of the lasting physical and emotional health problems produced by sexual coercion and abuse (Krantz, 1994). Meanwhile, Pearlman and Courtois discovered in their work with attachment framework and complex trauma that complex trauma adaptations can also interrupt an individual’s perception of self, aptitude to recognize and regulate emotions, modifications in consciousness and self-awareness, trouble preserving personal safety, somatic and medical concerns (Pearlman & Courtois, 2005).

More…

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Dissertation Diary Part 2: Sex Trafficking’s Impact on the Body

Part 2 of the Dissertation Diary blog post series  (For more context- please refer to Dissertation Diary Part 1)

<Please note that this “Dissertation Diary” 5 part blog post series is formatted very differently than the rest of my articles– much longer and more academic than the others…For other articles, please refer the right navigation panel of the site.>

 

The Body Keeps Score

Many people fail to recognize that when you experience trauma, everything from a car accident to a rape or a sex trafficking experience, you can’t just treat the extremes- on one hand, viewing the person through a purely medical lens (treating the pain symptoms of the body) and on the other hand, treating the person purely through mental health interventions to treat things like anxiety and PTSD…

No, you have to recognize that it’s like a venn diagram– one circle is body, one circle is mind and there is intersection. The body will manifest what’s wrong with the mind and the mind will manifest what’s wrong with the body. It’s a two-way street, an interrelated system…

I agree with Babette Rothschild’s statement (2000) “The body remembers (Wainrib, 2006)” and with Bessel Van der Kolk, ”The body keeps score(2004)” (Wainrib, 2006). 

Long after the trauma incident (finite in time), the body locks in that trauma and can perpetuate that trauma.

Trauma specialists, Levine and Brooke, claimed that trauma not only manifests mentally but also in the body (Levine, 2010) and the consequences for survivors can be particularly long lasting and devastating because of the intimate nature of the violence of sexual abuse and violation of the body (Brooke, 2007).

Author, Tian Dayton, has been researching trauma and addiction for the past decade, and pointed out that in sexual trauma, the body is the birthplace of pain and abuse (Dayton, 2010) so it would make sense that the body would manifest that trauma in negative somatic ways.

In this section of Dissertation Diary Part 2, I will be examining research from the fields of Interpersonal Neurobiology, Somatic Experiencing, and Neuroscience as they offer a wealth of knowledge about the constellation of physical symptoms resulting from how the body processes trauma.

  More…

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Dissertation Diary Part 1: Helping the Sex Trafficking victim

Welcome to the Dissertation Diary 

<Please note that this “Dissertation Diary” 5 part blog post series is formatted very differently than the rest of my articles– much longer and more academic than the others…well it is about a dissertation afterall! For a peek at the other articles, please refer the right navigation panel of the site.>

 

 

My dissertation process has been long in the making…a key requirement for completing my doctorate in Psychology and Counseling, the dissertation must encompass many key elements and filling an identified gap in research where there isn’t much knowledge about. I recall sitting in my grad school’s cafe with my professor, now Dissertation Chair, dialoguing about the topic possibilities…

At first, I was quite determined to work on a topic about cultural curses, a book idea I’ve had for years, with the expressed purpose to turn my dissertation into a book upon graduation.

That bubble did ‘burst’ a bit when professors recommended that I don’t bite off more than I could chew, emphasizing that the dissertation is not supposed to be your life’s work! The last thing I wanted to be is a “EBD”- an “Everything but dissertation” grad student who can’t quite graduate in the 5 year allotment because they can’t finish the dissertation!

In a 2 year process of self-reflection, an examination of my giftings/passions,  an artistic experiment where I collaborated with Christian St. Jacques on a spoken-word piece called “Bravebird” that I danced to, and experiences counseling women coming out of sex trafficking/prostitution/sexual trauma, discussions with my professors, etc– I finally felt led by God to the PERFECT dissertation topic. More…

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Hurt People hurt Other People

Have you ever experienced hurt by another person?

Of course you have.

Ever wonder why or what to do about it?

 

I invite you to read on as I discuss the concept of “hurt people hurt other people” as an insightful exploration potentially of the source of your pain (including why there may be addiction in your life), understanding the people behind your hurt, and what you can to do about.

 

Why.

Every human being has experienced a level of hurt. It can range from being spoken to in a belittling way, being betrayed by a friend to…divorce, adultery, sexual/emotional/sexual abuse, loss, a car accident, trauma.

It could of been your father. It may be your mother. Maybe it was a boss, a brother, a sister, a uncle. Maybe it was your best friend. Or a stranger.

But who is the real enemy?  In the case of abuse towards women or children, it can be easy to point an angry finger to men. Or in the case of a broken family, it can be easy to point to the mother that cheated on her husband. Maybe it’s that abuser…

Above that, what’s most curious is…why the sick cycle repeats again-- Why does someone who grew up being controlled and verbally/emotionally abused, act controlling towards others and their own children? Why do the sexually abused abuse others? Why do children of divorce divorce themselves? Why do children of violent alcoholics inflict angry violence towards their own children? Why are people addicted to porn, drugs, sex, dsyfunctional relationships…?

You would think that those that experience hurt, especially on such a deep level, would not want to inflict the same type of hurt to others.

It doesn’t seem to make sense…

…Oh, but at the same time, it totally does make sense…  More…

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How a man’s porn addiction impacts the woman he loves

Porn addiction for a man can start at a very young age…a strategically bad time to start especially when a boy’s brain and cognitive functioning is in development and when they are forming basic understanding of sexuality.

Most men grew up without a father figure or without a solid guide to help him navigate the extremely challenging terrain of becoming a man and understanding the role and responsibilities that come with that…

Although I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, I write this blog article today because it is been an issue and passion from my heart for many years…from all my school research as well as countless conversations I’ve had with women about this topic. Single women, married women. Divorced women. Although I don’t speak for all women, I know I speak for many.

Behind the relationships these women have had or still have with their man…was a genuine love. Not just by the woman, but definitely by the man.

But something got in the way…

More…

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Forgiving Yourself

10.7.12 Journal Blog post about my experience counseling in the inner city (For more context- please refer to Corporate Girl in an Inner City World)

 

To the torturers

During “Patterns of Change” class I co-lead, I brought up the topic of unforgiveness towards self because we were talking about guilt and shame. Working with the women in this shelter, I have really noticed that there’s a lot of guilt and inability to forgive oneself.

Many of these women have come from difficult domestic abuse or substance abuse situations where they have not been able to give their kids the best. (many had kids in their teen years)

Somewhere in the middle of their addiction and their abusive relationships, most women had kids at a young age and really wasn’t there for their kids (either their parents took care of their babies or they did a poor job raising their kids).

In that shame, in that unforgiveness—as the Bible says—there really is a release to the ‘torturers’ that I believe happens even psychologically! This has to be a priority…to not just forgive others but to forgive themselves too.

More…

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The Idolatry of Marriage and Family

10.7.12 Journal Blog post about my experience counseling in the inner city (For more context- please refer to Corporate Girl in an Inner City World)

 

The dream of the child of divorce

I saw my client “Lauren” today who has struggled with a long battle with alcoholism—she lost her marriage, her “dream” of that American dream of the marriage, 2 kids, and home,…when her husband got involved in cocaine.

We had a very poignant session where we explored why it made her feel so angry and jealous inside to see her husband divorce her then get remarried, and attain that dream of  hers. Although she clearly knows that her husband had a large portion of responsibility in leading to the divorce, she also blames herself for the marriage and for turning to alcohol to cope during and after it.

As we explored the narrative of rejection in her life, I keyed in to this “dream” that seemed to stir up so much emotion when she would think about it being ‘lost.’

More…

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The Breeding Ground of Addiction

10.7.12 Journal Blog post about my experience counseling in the inner city (For more context- please refer to Corporate Girl in an Inner City World)

 

Ever since I started my time in my doctorate program, I have been learning
more about what drives addiction.

What causes a liquid (alcohol) to have the debilitating power to literally ruin a person’s life? What causes pictures (pornography) to control someone and destroy their marriage and family?

I have learned a lot about the chemical reaction and the brain that interacts with addiction and how the body can start to work against oneself (More on this in my blog article, “When you keep doing what you hate“) but what really fascinates me is the concept of emotions and emotional regulation.

The concept of emotional regulation is this: when different emotions arise (particularly negative emotions), do you have the ability to properly handle and process those emotions in a healthy way?  More…