It could be your last break-up; the discrimination at your current job; or a familial relationship you still can’t come to terms with. Traumatic experience touches everyone and its origins are just as varied as the people it affects. Perhaps more insidious than the events themselves, are the uniquely haunting impressions left on our bodies—demons we often don’t want to share. Hence, when we talk about trauma it’s important that we look at the individual—with special attention paid to the ways in which their trauma is embodied in their feelings, actions, and physical wellbeing.
Rooted in storytelling, narrative therapy offers innovative and accessible resolutions to many of these challenges. As described by the Dulwich Centre for Narrative Therapy, narrative therapy is:
A respectful, non-blaming approach to counselling and community work, which centres people as the experts in their own lives. It views problems as separate from people and assumes [that they] have many…. values and abilities that will assist them to reduce [these] problems in their lives.
Narrative therapy empowers its recipients, helping to unlock instinctive capacities to heal themselves. Using a distinct combination of creative writing and artistic self-care, Naked Narratives accomplishes just that.
Naked Narratives is an international narrative therapy and creative literacy project founded in Los Angeles in 2014. Here body parts are redefined as characters in our life stories, enabling its participants to dissect and deconstruct specific pressure points of trauma. Programs range from a few hours to a few weeks and provide colorful, creative mediums to release repressed pain or distress. In our programs participants write about everything from their hair to their hands, ultimately indulging in restorative and beautifying adornment practices used to celebrate the body. In previous programs clients have written songs about their scars, odes to their eyes, and lullabies to their lips. Parallel to these assignments, participants have enjoyed trips to local hot springs, Zulu mask-making rituals, and DIY organic lip-balm workshops.
We invite you to visit the nakednarratives.org to learn more about our work and the various programs we offer throughout the year. Until then we’d like to offer a few simple words of advice, to creatively release our everyday emotional aches and pains:
- In circumstances of great anger, frustration, or regret, with each action ask yourself, “What would be the most generous thing to do?”
- Remind yourself, with thought and action, that you are an incredibly deserving person.
- When you feel as if everything has been taken, believe in your inner voice and create, create, create.
Jheanelle Garriques is a refreshingly eccentric feminist scholar born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Garriques received her degree in Gender Studies from the University of Southern California in 2015, where she also worked at the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative, a media research lab dedicated to breaking gendered and racial barriers in film and television. After presenting their research at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Jheanelle Garriques was offered her first grant by world renowned philanthropist, Ruth Ann Harnisch, and Naked Narratives began.
Ms. Garriques is affiliated with multiple fellowships and organizations, including The Smithsonian Institution, The Huntington Foundation, the Women’s Center for Creative Work, The Posse Foundation, and the American Studies Association. When she is not working on the project, Ms. Garriques can be found dancing, cooking, or chatting in patois with her family.