(Developed by Jill Olver.)
This activity was originally devised as a group process, but it can be adapted for individuals. It is designed to show clients that, although trauma plays a large part in their lives, it is not the whole of their lives. This activity can work towards building possibilities for hope and a better future, which can be difficult to see from the depths of trauma. It is not about negating the very real effects of trauma, but opening a space for the possibility of change.
- Spend time with the client creating picture cards for words that represent concrete aspects of the person’s trauma (e.g. drinking, nightmares, not eating, avoiding friends). Discuss how these are all normal responses to trauma (the client may feel that they are the only one who does these things and is unable to cope). Extend the picture cards into feelings (anger, hopelessness, sadness, fear).
- Discuss words that might be the opposite to the trauma and feelings already identified, and create picture cards to represent happiness and hope. If the client struggles with this, encourage them to make an ‘I like’ collage (cutting out pictures from magazines of things they like the look of, e.g. shoes, cars, babies, dogs).
- Discuss their choices and their feelings about the objects they have chosen (e.g. happiness, love, friends, family etc). Are these things they have in their life? Are they hopes for the future? Hopes will be difficult, as the client may say they have none.
- Use ‘I can’ cards (cards that show pictures and phrases like ‘I can sing’ or ‘I can be helpful’). In a group setting, ask the client to choose for someone else present in the group – what do you see another person in the group as capable of doing? Ask them to present the card and say why they chose the card. Ask others to choose for them.
- Make copies of the card so that group members can take them home as reminders of how others see them as capable.
- In the next session, ask how it felt to get a card and know that someone thinks you are helpful.
- Ask if there is a card that the client could choose for themselves.
- How does the card fit with the words and cards they made for trauma?
- At this stage, you will have two sets of cards – one set of pictures and words that represent trauma, and one set that represent happiness and hope.
- Draw a big football field. Identify Trauma and Hope as captains of opposing teams and place them at each end of the field (the group may pick an overall image to put at each end to represent each ‘captain’ or they may choose to write the words).
- The group can then place all of the words on the field – wherever they fit for the clients. Words that go with trauma go at one end and words that go with hope go at the other end. Sometimes clients will place the words at both ends, depending on their own experiences.
Discuss the way that a ball will bounce back and forth all over the field. Relate this to the client: despite what happens to us we can try to move to the other end of the field. Talk about what it looks like to be there. Talk about what holds them down Trauma’s end of the football field and what it takes for them to be up Hope’s end of the football field. This activity covers many concepts in a visual form and may take many weeks to carefully build with the client.
In this example, a group of young women chose an evil goblin to represent Trauma and chose a goddess to represent Hope. The women in this group felt that things like Anger, Sadness, Fear, Isolation, Alcohol and Drugs went with Trauma and that Choices, Appreciation, Change, Laughter, Respect and Friends went with Hope. You can see in this example that Wishes, Answers, Relationships and Dreams fit with both Trauma and Hope.