It’s important to honor all of your client’s inner parts in therapy. But accessing them to fully engage in healing work isn’t always easy, especially when they’ve been through unimaginable trauma and feel lingering shame, as is especially common with trauma survivors.

As therapist Lisa Ferentz explains in the short video below, since trauma is stored in the visual parts of the brain, and the body, the therapist’s best bet is to use creative, body-oriented strategies that counteract this shame. Here’s what this looks like in practice:

As Lisa mentions in her Networker article, working creatively energizes many of her traumatized clients, “in part because they were already creative, having invented all kinds of strategies for safety and survival.” Working with a sexual assault survivor, Melissa, she explains how she used journaling to help her move beyond her pain and even find ways to make meaning from the horror she experienced.

Lisa Ferentz

Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA, is a recognized expert in the strengths-based, de-pathologized treatment of trauma and has been in private practice for more than 35 years. She presents workshops and keynote addresses nationally and internationally, and is a clinical consultant to practitioners and mental health agencies in the United States, Canada, the UK and Ireland. In 2009 she was voted the “Social Worker of Year” by the Maryland Society for Clinical Social Work. Lisa is the author of Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Trauma Survivors: A Clinician’s Guide, 2nd Edition (Routledge, 2014)Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors: A Workbook of Hope and Healing (Routledge, 2014), and Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons From the Therapist’s Couch (PESI, 2017).

Chris Lyford

Chris Lyford is the Senior Editor at Psychotherapy Networker. Previously, he was Assistant Director and Editor of the The Atlantic Post, where he wrote and edited news pieces on the Middle East and Africa. He also formerly worked at The Washington Post, where he wrote local feature pieces for the Metro, Sports, and Style sections. Contact: