“I Was There”: How Storytelling Can Heal Trauma and Lead to Post-Traumatic Growth – Joshua Lee Cohen


This presentation will connect people in psychohistorical community with the power of Storytelling and how it can heal individuals and even nations, despite overwhelming trauma. Storytelling also provides the Posttraumatic Growth opportunities, allowing people to grow from conflict in a way that honors the suffering and still allows for the possibility of rewriting the traumatic narrative. Dr. Cohen is relying on the research of his previous book and StoryCenter’s 40-year tradition. As described in “Digital Storytelling, Healing for the YouTube Generation of Veterans,” written by Rivka Tuval Maschiach and Benjamin Patton, this presentation and discussion will illustrate how this creative-expressive tool of digital storytelling could be understood neurobiologically – because of the way how the blocked connective pathways get untangled by reflective emotional, and then verbal, processing during the art of storytelling.
The studies showed that the Three overarching themes emerged as significant in describing the benefits of participation in storytelling: gaining a new sense of agency, regaining a sense of affiliation, and processing the trauma. The findings were illustrated and discussed within the context of narrative therapy, as is the potential of video-based therapy, especially regarding non-articulated, sensory traumatic memories, and for the process of (re)construction of the trauma narrative.

Short bio:

Josh L. Cohen Ph.D. is the media psychologist and the founder of “Your Digital Storytelling Project” and the Media Psychology Consultants PC. Dr. Cohen is the author and co-editor of Video and Filmmaking as Psychotherapy: Research and Practice. As a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California (USC), Dr. Cohen introduces this material to students in the social work department. His book is the first of its kind, proposing to make films as a part of psychotherapy in comprehensive academic writing. In the 15 chapters, sources came from authors associated with psychology, counseling, anthropology, social work, and art therapy. https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8849-2780