I was very impressed to see the cards in the “fink” series devised by Sarah Murphy, for whom I have the greatest admiration, she has suffered the dreadful aftermath of a very traumatic event herself. This set has been an introduction to “fink” for myself and I think the whole idea behind the series is inspired.
As subjects go I imagine this is surely one of the most difficult to approach and indeed practically these cards also very difficult to use. They raise the questions that so many people find almost impossible to ask and those who have been affected by a traumatic event incredibly difficult to face and begin to deal with.
It takes considerable courage to begin the journey out of trauma and every journey is different – the glory of the collection of a series of cards so carefully prepared and divided into useful sections offers the possibility of very many different combinations of interactions with them.
I would strongly endorse Sarah’s advice in terms of them being used in the presence of an empathetic professional, preferably who is known and trusted by the person who needs to work on their trauma. There is a need to enable each individual to select not only the subject that feels right to approach at certain times but also to feel completely comfortable in dealing with each question or issue in whichever way they choose at the time.
I can envisage many of these topics being approached on numerous occasions, by the same person, in different ways and in different combinations making the possibilities endless and their healing properties really quite profound. They enable the people using them to work at their own pace and in their own way, to be in “the driving seat” able to start and stop, twist and turn as they wish. As a part of a recovery programme they are invaluable.
There are relatively few professionals who work in the field of trauma caused by crime and for those of us who find ourselves often tucked away in small corners of large criminal justice organisations there is an endless need to train the wider groups of related professional around us. I spend a considerable proportion my time training and introducing others to the issues involved in working most considerately and with care with victims of crime who have suffered the most severe and critically damaging events, like Sarah, having lost a much loved family member who will always leave a completely unfillable gap in their families or having undergone a terrifying traumatic experience personally during the perpetration of a criminal offence.
Many victims, quite rightly express concern, unease and often downright anger about the way that they have been treated in their painful journey through the criminal justice system. This damage is not done deliberately but rather because workers have had little or no training about the effects of trauma and indeed are often frightened and badly affected by witnessing the agony taking place before them. These are the experiences that in fact we all dread happening to us, we naturally strive to avoid them probably in order to protect ourselves. Of course this means that at the very time that damaged and violated individuals clearly need and deserve the very best of responses they so often experience some of the worst, only serving to compound the harm. I see huge potential in using these “fink” cards as a very useful training aid, working with all those professionals working in the criminal justice system, medical services and mental health services, police, court, probation, youth offending teams, prisons G.P practices etc. In the same way that Sarah recommends their use with those in trauma themselves they could enable professionals to talk or think through what the effects and aftermath of trauma are and what needs people in such situations have, moreover how work with them can be so much more dignified, helpful and caring. Equally attention would need to be taken in supervising such activity as indeed traumatic experience is built into so many of us, often deeply buried and repressed. The wider discussion of these issues, safely undertaken can only be helpful and positive.
You can find Barbara at Escaping Victimhood
Talking About Trauma is written by Sarah Murphy. Talking About Trauma aims to help people affected by traumatic life changing events to start conversations with trained professionals and others who have had similar shared experiences. Buy the cards here.