MA in Psychology and Counseling student Tamara Liaschenko presents the expressive movement piece she created as a component of her individually designed course in Social and Cultural Foundations integrating Expressive Arts Therapy content. In her words:
“This piece represents the resilience and love gained from growing up in my family, the gifts my grandmother shared, and the value of learning that not only can we rise above our hurt and shame, but recognize that trauma is anything less than nurturing. Thank you, Katherine Lyniuk (July 2012). You are missed.
“The study of theory, therapeutic techniques, and case studies provided an opportunity to look at three generations of my own family system, who suffered trauma. My grandparents survived the Holodomor and World War II slave internment, and with my father immigrated to the US in 1948. Due to the harm caused by genocidal government acts, family members did /do not trust outsiders to assist in healing processes. My grandparent’s shame of having been abandoned by their own country, and for having felt saved by Germany translated to irrational resentments against Jewish people and some facets of American culture, but also to an infusion of guilt for any act that was not appreciative of opportunity.
“In many ways this shame is indicative of my father’s reluctance to speak of any of his past, until this project. While neither my father nor my grandparents had the benefit of therapy, they utilized community, their love for nature and their source of ethnic pride to transcend their spiritual pain and call on their inner resilience to survive and find peace in daily life. The Ukrainian culture utilizes the beauty of nature to stay in the present, and spirituality to find hope for the future. Their sense of national pride, the inner Kozak, provides both work ethic and survival instinct. These strategies are a means of coping and surviving in a harsh world.
“Their traumas were expressed through dreams, or maladaptive behaviors, or depression. Trauma continued in interpersonal and interfamilial relationships, sometimes more damaging than the original trauma suffered, and these reverberations filtered into our social realm (Blum, 2007). Rather than present a historical account of my grandmother’s journey, somehow this process led me to focus on the value of her gifts.
“This piece represents the resilience and love gained from growing up in my family, the gifts my grandmother shared, and the value of learning that not only can we rise above our hurt and shame, but recognize that trauma is anything less than nurturing.
“When a client presents with life experiences that are less than nurturing, we clinicians must use all of our knowledge, skill, and awareness of our own beliefs to see the individual client in the guise of their current identity and provide open, non-judgmental, holistic approaches to healing and identity integration.”