Researcher guides patients to their trauma to treat it

Jane Simington’s work with trauma focuses on the use of guided imagery to take patients back to their experience. Photo by Nathan Meyer.

Jane Simington says her own experience with trauma led her to help others with the same issue. Visiting the University of Regina to work with her research team, Simington discusses the reasons behind her work:

“After my son was killed I went back to school to look at healing”, said Simington. “I had studied grief, but when my son was killed, the experience of grief was very different than the knowledge of grief. I recognized that this was beyond grief, it was trauma.”

Simington’s work with trauma focuses on the use of guided imagery to take patients back to their experience. Since knowledge of trauma is stored in the brain’s right-hemisphere, Simington’s research suggests that use of guided imagery is effective as it utilizes the same part of the brain. By visualizing a white light and taking them back to the event, Simington says it allows the individual to feel more connected.

Along with the technique of guided imagery, Simington bases her trauma therapy around the psychological theory of Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs, which says an individual’s needs evolve from physical to mental then spiritual. Contrarily, Simington prioritizes the individual’s spiritual needs.

“When we heal on a spiritual level…we have a better chance of relieving the emotional symptoms,” said Simington, adding “people even start wanting to take better care of their physical body.”

Simington said that there is a movement evolving that has begun to look deeper at what causes trauma and hopes the therapy to advance. After her research at the University of Regina, Simington is expected to continue her therapy both internationally and in Canada.

Marshall, who asked that his last name not be used, has worked with Simington for his trauma and calls her therapy a “missing piece.”

Marshall says other techniques did not address his root problems but credits Simington with allowing him to feel more grounded: “One of the things I suffered from for most of my life is (not) feeling grounded. I always felt apprehensive…and that’s a result of trauma.”

In the future, Marshall hopes to continue his therapy with Simington and believes it has increased his quality of life. When comparing other therapy techniques, Marshall sums it up thusly: “(Rather than) you’re going to become this person, through this process (you) come to the person that you already are.”

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