Friday, August 21, 2015

Trauma Focus Therapy

Both Catholic papers reported  on the seminar on 'Trauma Focus Therapy' which will continue  at St. Mary's Hospital in Seoul.  Korea has had more than its share of trauma causing experiences: Japanese colonial rule, the Korean War,  the fight for Democracy, continues to  influence society. The recent Sewol  tragedy will also, if not addressed  produce  for years to come, trauma for the families of the victims and society.

One article begins with the statement that with the external mental trauma  a person has to deal with, we often  have a mental and a  psychological breakdown. Dr. Mary Kwan who arrived in Korea from the States is a member of the team conducting a seminar for those dealing with trauma in society. Efforts are necessary to train those who work with persons who have experienced trauma: not treated the experience will be  handed down to other generations. She mentions you can't treat all trauma in the same way.

She mentions that in Europe and the States instead of  dealing directly with the mental and psychological difficulties in the beginning they work with the body. Concern is for the way a person is feeling in the body:
What are the physical sensations in the body? This is not what we do in Korea, she laments.

We often confuse psychological  treatment with trauma treatment. Dr. Kwan  makes clear they are two different approaches to the problems. In psychological problems treatment is  usually to bring up the events that have caused the difficulties, and speak about them and face the emotions that arise. She maintains this is not what you want to do with trauma for it often makes matters worse. Efforts need to be made to  approach the emotions aroused in a gradual way.

In Korea we talk a lot about a nervous disorder they attribute to pent up resentment: anger disease--"Han". The problems that come with trauma, the scars are often deepened, and develop into unhealthy side effects. The mass media has a great deal to do in the way they treat the news--whether it will increase or decrease the trauma in society.

Those  in pastoral work should be conscious  of  the difference between psychological problems and trauma producing experiences. People with problems do not only go to the specialists with their problems but to the religious people in their lives, which makes it necessary for pastoral workers  to be familiar with what is necessary to help those in need.

In the seminar she hopes to use many clinical examples that will make clear some of problems that are faced dealing with trauma, without speaking only abstractly. There are many who go to their pastoral worker when facing trauma and often are disappointed, feel betrayed and in anger leave their faith life. 

Korea does not have a healthy social safety net which makes it more difficult for the citizens. She concludes with the reminder that people are the best help in reducing the incidents of trauma. When we have mental and psychological problems, and those in our lives are not at our side; we have to deal with the problems alone, which increases the danger of trauma.

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