Back from the edge of the world: Re-authoring a story of practice with stress and trauma using gestalt theories and narrative approaches

Publication Date



The aim of this article is to offer an ongoing reflection of the difficulties of working with trauma survivors within mental health agencies which provide brief models of intervention. The dilemma of how to work safely, respectively, and collaboratively with clients who present with a history of trauma is highlighted. The author reflects on her own experience of vicarious traumatization through her practice with a long-term survivor of domestic abuse. The team and organizational narratives which are embedded in the medical and managerial models in the mental health services are reflected upon as constraining the environment in which the author is able to provide a context for the client's healing and collegial practice. By witnessing the abuse survivor's story of survival drawing upon themes in the "New Trauma Therapy," Gestalt and Narrative therapy practice frameworks, the author suggests that other versions of the "story" are made available for the client and for the worker that offer a greater sense of "personal agency." These "re-authored" narratives offer a way forward for the client, individual worker, and team.

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access