Together We Stand

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hands_800One of the highlights of my time in graduate school was learning about and participating in Therapeutic Enactment. In the safety of a group setting, Therapeutic Enactment offers individuals an opportunity to recreate key life experiences, and in the process, find healing from trauma.

It’s challenging to convey in words just how powerful this reparative work can be. What happens in the group is, in my opinion, nothing short of magic.

When I was introduced to Therapeutic Enactment, I could easily imagine that the person at the centre of the enactment (referred to as “the lead”) would benefit from the process. What blew my socks off (that’s a professional counselling term, if you didn’t know) was discovering how impactful and healing the experience could be for everyone involved, whether they were playing a role in the enactment or holding the circle as a compassionate witness.

Much of the power in an enactment lies in the lead having a chance to “go back” to an experience and say what they wished they’d been able to say at the time. Here’s where one of my favourite Therapeutic Enactment practices comes in: When the lead is saying something that feels hard to say–for instance, confronting an abuser or crying out to an absent parent–others from the group rise and stand with him or her.

Sometimes several supporters will stand clustered behind the lead, putting hands on his or her shoulders or back. Sometimes one person simply stands beside or behind the lead, not touching but close enough that their presence is felt. Strong people with broken spirits are surrounded and backed by caring witnesses who act as encouragers, reinforcers, or a temporary backbone as the lead gathers strength.

Being backed during an enactment is empowering. But the beautiful thing about life is that we don’t need to be shoulder-to-shoulder to stand with one another. We might get backing from those in our family, school, workplace, church, or community. Our biggest supporters might be loved ones who are miles away, who are praying for us and cheering us on through our ups and downs.

When navigating the trials of life, having someone stand alongside us sounds like this:

  • I’ve got you
  • You can lean on me
  • I am here
  • You’re okay
  • I understand your suffering
  • You can do this
  • I care
  • You are not alone 

Maybe today we feel gratitude for the people who have our backs. Or if we are struggling to stand, maybe it’s time to reach out and ask for support. Perhaps we are the ones standing in as that temporary backbone for vulnerable loved ones. Wherever life finds us today, how beautiful it is to remember that we have constant backing from a loving God who stands with us always and never leaves our side.
___________________

Image credit: Becca Allpress

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Stefanie Thomas

Stefanie Thomas

Stefanie is a Registered Clinical Counsellor living in Vancouver, BC. She feels blessed to work in a helping profession and is grateful that her work requires her to show up not in a power suit but with listening ears and a compassionate heart. Stefanie enjoys spending time with family and friends and has never met a kid or baby she doesn’t like. She is a noticer and appreciator of birds (chickadees, herons, eagles) and many a beach rock has come home in her pocket. Stefanie is a lover of music, tv and movies, and she is gifted at absorbing and retaining useless pop culture trivia. She loves walking, fresh air, the smell of dirt, and anything of the salt and vinegar persuasion. She can often be found puttering.
Stefanie Thomas
Stefanie Thomas

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