Peral Jiménez, Carolina

Tilting at windmills: the approach to trauma through the artist's book and the life story

Luchar contra molinos de viento: el abordaje del trauma a través del libro de artista y las historias de vida

Carolina Peral Jiménez

This paper shows the results obtained in the research project of the Complutense University of Madrid, entitled ALETHEIA: Art, Art Therapy, Trauma and Emotional Memory funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. We will present the methodology of intervention and research used in an art therapy workshop with women who have suffered traumatic events related to violence.
Art is a gateway to traumatic memories that are fragmented into sensory and emotional elements in our implicit memory (Rothschild, 2015). However, to overcome the trauma, it is necessary to integrate these memories through an autobiographical story in which a coherent story of the trauma is created (Van der Kolk, 2015).

From a trauma-based, integrative-existential approach (Yalom, 1980) and an interactive group (Waller, 1993), and including a gender perspective (Herman, 1992), the methodology of life story (Gramling & Carr, 2004) has been combined with the concept of an artist's book. The artist book, ideal for its intimate, free, personal, and narrative character, facilitated the search of ways of expression in the form of autobiographical narration. In addition, as an element of openness to symbolization, different artistic works related to trauma were used, as well as autobiographical graphic novels such as Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like (Paperback) or Becoming Unbecoming, a story about child abuse.

To carry out the observation and registration indicators, they were validated using the Delphi method, obtaining a record sheet composed of different categories with indicators to be assessed through a Likert scale.
The creation of visual narratives from life stories has helped to situate the traumatic episodes as an integrated part of a global life project, empowering the participants, reducing their level of anxiety. Somehow, those episodes that as giants gripped the participants have been reduced to windmills.

Luchar contra molinos de viento: el abordaje del trauma a través del libro de artista y las historias de vida

Esta presentación muestra los resultados obtenidos en el proyecto de investigación de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, titulado ALETHEIA: arte, arteterapia, trauma y memoria emocional y financiado por el Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Se abordará la metodología de intervención y de investigación utilizada en un taller de arteterapia con mujeres que han sufrido eventos traumáticos relacionados con la violencia.

El arte es una vía de acceso a los recuerdos traumáticos que se encuentran fragmentados en elementos sensoriales y emocionales en nuestra memoria implícita (Rothschild, 2015). Sin embargo, para superar el trauma, es necesario integrar estos recuerdos a través de una historia autobiográfica en la que se cree un relato coherente del trauma (Van der Kolk, 2015).
A partir de un enfoque basado en el trauma,  integrativo-existencial (Yalom, 1980) y de grupo interactivo (Waller, 1993), e incluyendo una perspectiva de género (Herman, 1992),  se ha combinado la metodología de historia de vida (Gramling & Carr, 2004) con el concepto de libro de artista. Éste, ideal por su carácter íntimo, libre, personal, y de carácter narrativo, facilitó la búsqueda de vías de expresión propias en forma de narración autobiográfica. Además, como elemento de apertura a la simbolización se utilizaron diferentes obras artísticas relacionadas con el trauma, así como novelas gráficas de carácter autobiográfico como Quiéreme bien. Una historia de maltrato (2016) o Una entre muchas (2016), un relato sobre el abuso infantil.

Para la realización de los indicadores de observación y registro, se ha procedido a la validación de los mismos mediante el método Delphi, obteniendo una hoja de registro compuesta por diferentes categorías con  indicadores a valorar a través de una escala Likert.

La creación de narrativas visuales a partir de las historias de vida ha ayudado a situar los episodios traumáticos como una parte integrada dentro de un proyecto vital global, empoderando a las participantes, reduciendo su nivel de ansiedad. De algún modo, aquellos episodios que como gigantes atenazaban a las participantes, han sido reducidos a molinos de viento.



Carolina Peral Jiménez is Master of Art Therapy and PhD candidate in Art Therapy at the Complutense University of Madrid in the Gender Studies program. She is currently working with a predoctoral fellowship in the project ALETHEIA: Arts and Art Therapy as a way to deal with trauma and Emotional Memory, conducted by Marián López Fdz. Cao and funded by the Ministry of Industry and Competitiveness of Spain.

Carolina obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.  She is Member of AFIA (Asociación Iberoamericana de Arteterapia) and she has experience of working with women, children and adolescents in therapeutic and educational frameworks.

Recent Publications 

Peral Jiménez, C. (2018).  “No-case”. The difficulties in the therapeutic relationship in an intervention through art therapy with a pediatric hemodialysis patient. Next publication in Arteterapia: Papeles de Arteterapia y Educación Artística para la Inclusión Social 13.
Peral Jiménez, C. (2018).  Trauma, Art Therapy and Women: a revision of Approaches, methodologies and experiences. In: López Fdz. Cao, M. (2018) (Ed) ALETHEIA Vol. 1: Giving shape to pain. Madrid: Fundamentos.
Peral Jiménez, C. (2017). Can we prevent trauma? Reflections on the use of art therapy as a way to prevent trauma and the development of resilience. Arteterapia. Papeles de arteterapia y educación para inclusión social 12, 277-292.
Conference presentations:
Presentation of three papers during the Open day of ALETHEIA PROJECT, celebrated on April 19th.

2018: Presentation of the paper: ‘The museum as a way to prevent gender-based violence against women’.  International Congress: The limits of Art in the Museum. Madrid.