03 Jun Tell Your Story. Begin to Heal.
I did something I’d never done before a year and a half ago. I heard 2 women talking about a retreat for adopted people on a podcast I like called Adoptees On. Immediately, I wanted to recommend the retreat to clients because it sounded so great. Then, I thought to myself, why don’t I go?
It was outside my comfort zone, but still I went. Sitting in a room of people who had been adopted for days in a row changed my life in a way that individual therapy with a non-adoption competent therapist could not. It was so healing that I went back for part 2 last week. This time, I learned better words for what I previously called a weirdly soothing experience. The words were Coherent Narrative.
The 1st retreat that adopted, dynamic duo Anne Heffron (writer & writing coach) and Pam Cordano (psychotherapist) held in Berkeley, CA has now been repeated several times over. The retreat has had consistently positive reviews from other attendees as well.
I’d been to support groups and run one too. They were meaningful, but this was more intense. We explored what being adopted meant to our identity through creative exercises. Our personal narrative deepened. We expressed experiences that resonated deeply because we all shared being adopted; it was a coherent narrative.
Simply put, a coherent narrative is a story that makes sense. From a trauma standpoint, telling a coherent narrative can aid a person in building new information into what they already know. It allows for a full picture as opposed to one stuck in a 1-dimensional frame. For example with adoption trauma, I was lucky to be adopted by good parents so I’m fine, might become, I love my adoptive parents although I don’t feel connected and I do feel like something is missing in my life.
The same can be said for any number of life experiences where the general population may try to minimize your experience. Such as having experienced cancer, sexual abuse, poverty, or facing discrimination due to race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Building a coherent trauma narrative with a therapist is healing work. Building a coherent narrative within a group is meaningful on a different level. Telling your story to people who get it at a core level and experiencing validation because they have similar lived experience is grounding. Essentially, it becomes easier to trust your story even though it isn’t the popular societal narrative.
Benefits of Shared Coherent Narrative
- Creates a deeper understanding of who & why you are
- Decreases self-doubt about an experience
- Shared humanity
- Deeper connections to others
- Easier to make decisions
- You are able to tell a sequential, logical story
- Mind and body become integrated
- Less fear of offending people w/your truth
So if you’re adopted and you haven’t already, locate a support group that you feel comfortable in, go to Anne and Pam’s retreat, and find an adoption competent therapist to support you on your healing journey. If this idea resonates for other reasons, the same holds true for attending support groups, retreats and finding a trauma informed therapist. I’m happy to help. Call or email me.
Kate Murphy, LCSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Chamblee, GA, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.