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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…