Written by Vivien Dietz, LCSW-C, MSW, BCD, RN
There is a strong body of research confirming that direct contact with nature increases mental health and psychological and spiritual development. There are many benefits including an enhanced sense of connectedness to oneself and others, a sense of meaning, and purpose often muted or lost when the residue of trauma permeates the body/mind. Nature’s garden is a healer! These precious gifts coming in the form of flowers creates a continuous bond with all of nature on a deeper level. The characteristics and energy of flowers can help strengthen a client’s rituals for comfort and self-healing.
Three specific clinical strategies that can help clients struggling with trauma residue and achieve long-term regulation and stabilization are:
- Active Imagination;
- Deep Imagery;
- and Guided Imagery.
We all have an innate ability to self regulate and heal. Some clients develop life-long techniques without knowing or realizing why they continue a ritual on a conscious level. This is illustrated in the following case:
A 68 years old woman described a deep pervasive sadness throughout her entire life. When she was 5 she witnessed her father’s sudden death from a heart attack. The family did not talk about the death nor was she allowed to go to the funeral. She never knew what happened to her father until years later. In our sessions we continued our talk therapy, however, the symptoms of deep sadness seemed intractable.
In the spring of one of our sessions, she commented on the beautiful flowers growing outside my office. I asked her to tell me about her favorite flower. She loves gladiolus not knowing why. She brought them home whenever she could find them. This made her smile and feel a sense of temporary joy. In the next session, she brought in the gladiolus and we explored them through all her senses examining color, structure, blossoms, stem and fragrance. Over time, she began to notice an easing of her grief. The gladiolus helped her transition into a life affirming energy. Trauma residue begins to subside when curiosity and new self-soothing rituals are introduced.
If you valued this post, consider registering for Vivien’s upcoming workshop “Exploring the Healing Gifts of Nature’s Garden: Using Sensory Experiences to Soothe and Ground Clients,” to be held on Wednesday, September 25, where you’ll discover much more about how the energy of flowers can help strengthen a client’s rituals for comfort and self-healing. To learn more about this workshop, click here.