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Experiential Action Methods and Tools for Healing Grief and Loss Related Trauma: Book Review

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Talking about loss is not an easy task for any of us but is also a necessary thing to do in helping you to come to some resolution of the loss you have experienced and for those who may be involved as well from friends, work colleagues, community groups, and neighbours.

The book Experiential Action Methods and Tools for Healing Grief and Loss Related Trauma provides therapists with a new way of looking and doing work in this area of life – death, dying, and loss-related trauma.

The authors have produced a book that is so accessible and practical for a subject matter and human condition that often feels hard to’ go there’ but make it possible to use not just talking but creative methods to aide exploration, catharsis, and healing of grief.

Lusijah Darrow is a marriage and family therapist as well as a psychodrama psychotherapist while Janet Childs has been providing support, education and crisis intervention for over 40 years at the Centre for Living and Dying Programme, Bill Wilson Center in San Francisco. Both authors have vast experience professionally but speak on a very personal level about how death has impacted on them and their own healing and transformation.

What makes this book so good is that it makes the subject of loss and grief part of being human and that with appropriate support, guidance, love, and validation that a way ‘to be’ with it can be found and healing is possible even when at times it feels the total opposite.

It made me think of moments when I have lost family members and how through Psychodrama I was able to show my grief and also feel supported and connected with a wider group whose stories may have been different but the thoughts and feelings were similar. I no longer felt alone which is a common feeling with grief and loss.

On the opening page, this books sets the tone and scene of the work on life and death. In our lives, we dance the balancing wheel of life and death, sorrow and joy, peace and turmoil. We dance between being in control of our lives, to experiencing a total loss of control, when we are confronted with life-changing events. If we can allow our dance to be an adventure, rather than recrimination of choices made in the past, we might be able to make meaning from painful experiences.

The book is very nicely set out with a good range of practical tools to use, small vignettes of sessions, and theory. Many of the examples of creative methods come from psychodrama and sociodrama as well as art-based therapies.

It has chapters on being able to share your story, tools for coping, loneliness, sadness, fear, and anger as well as specific issues like violent death and suicide, faith and the grieving process, stress, trauma, and critical incident stress management. These are but a few of the 21 chapters.

Dr J L Moreno the developer of psychodrama famously said that: ‘The body remembers what the Mind forgets’. And certainly working in the area of grief and loss related trauma many of the old wounds/hurts and memories are held within the body and giving those aches/pains/yearnings a voice through action-oriented methods can release and heal them so transformative action can be taken.

I found the whole book inspiring and hope-filled which are important parts of healing and recognising that each person and communities response to loss/trauma is uniquely theirs. I recommend this as an essential read in respect to grief and loss related to trauma.


Image credit: Freepik

Carl Dutton is a psychodrama psychotherapist working in the NHS in FRESH CAMHS at Alderhey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. 


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