Last October, we hosted the first annual Symposia: An Intersection of Conversation & Innovation, a forum in which alumni of The Seattle School presented the ongoing work they are pursuing at the intersection of text, soul, and culture. Integrative education does not end at graduation, and our alumni are proof of that. Symposia highlighted the ways that our alumni are continuing to wrestle with big questions and big dreams in theology, psychology, and culture.

Here, we’re thrilled to present Shauna Gauthier’s (MA in Counseling Psychology, 2010) talk on “The Healing Art of Making Meaning: How Coding Trauma into Language Impacts the Healing Process.”

Shauna shares how, through looking back on her childhood diary (where she wrote about everything from unrequited love to the pain of her parents’ divorce), the horror of losing one of her youth group students in the 1999 Columbine shooting, and her time in nonprofit work and private practice therapy, she began to discover the potentially healing effect that writing can have on the wounds of trauma.

“It’s been said that tears are words that just need to be written. And when I was a girl, apparently I needed to write a whole lot. And I probably still do.”

Pulling from psychological theory, contemporary research, and her own experience with near-death medical trauma, Shauna began to pursue writing as a way to process and reflect on traumatic experiences—both in her personal life and in the lives of people she works with. This led her and to colleagues to launch 3 Therapists Walk into a Blog, a virtual community where they model truth telling in narrative, provide education on a variety of subjects, and invite other women to write their own stories. “What has been most meaningful to me has been providing the opportunity for other courageous women to put their experiences into words,” says Shauna.

“The work of sifting through the fragmentation of our own minds post-trauma takes art, and it takes hard work, and it comes at a cost. To wrestle and struggle to find words to capture the images, the sensations, the disorientation that all happens in trauma, and to map the deeply personal and emotional terrain at the same time—that is not for the faint of heart. It’s the work of an artist.”

At the end of her talk, Shauna reads one of her own written pieces—a beautiful and vulnerable reflection that demonstrates some of the truth telling and meaning making that can happen through engaging trauma narratives. You don’t want to miss it.

Shauna Gauthier | How Coding Trauma into Language Impacts the Healing Process | Symposia 2015 from The Seattle School on Vimeo.