Reframing the Traumatic Memory

The parents sat with me as the boy trained in the next room. He'd wanted to watch a movie and engage with the neurofeedback program. His mom told me that he was remembering the time when he was taken from his mother by the social workers and how he saw her crying as they drove away. This image haunts him now and he is angry and upset when it comes to him.

These parents want to help him manage his feelings and his therapist helps him to sit with his anger and pain and talk about what he feels. I sense the moment of him with the memory and the intention behind the act of remembering, to connect to his mother to complete himself. I find myself reading the scene like a script and seeing the moments as storyboard for a movie. I look at the mother who has just called DCS and said, 'you better come now and take him before I kill him' As she sits on the sidewalk holding her head and crying, he is taken in the social worker's car and the image for him is her slumped form receding as they drive away.

I tell the mom to ask him what he thinks she's thinking in that moment. He needs to understand her state in that moment is not of disappointment but of profound relief. She has managed to act as a loving parent should and to relieve herself of the burden she would carry all her life if she'd done something to him that could not be undone. She acted out of love for her child and for herself in calling DCS. This is what he must recognize in that image and know his life begins then with new promise and hope.

The mother thanks me for the image reframing option she can now offer him as part of the rewriting of his script for a life that he can look forward to and connect with the hope for pleasure ahead.