Trauma-Focused Movement Language (TFML) is an embodied process of co-creating internal and relational healing and empowerment, built on two foundations: the neurobiology of trauma that is common to all survivors and the experience of trauma that is unique to each survivor.
TFML aims to support survivors in exploring, articulating and processing traumatic memories by providing a framework that survivors can adapt in ways most meaningful to them with the guidance and support of the survivor facilitator.
As an approach, TFML reverses traditional dynamics:
1) TFML is body-based, not talk-based, based on an understanding that healing must be experienced rather than talked or thought through.
2) TFML is survivor-led, not clinician-led, based on a firm belief that survivors do not require to be cured or fixed but guided and supported to reclaim their power, heal, and grow from their traumatic experiences.
Trauma is an embodied experience that is extremely difficult to put into words. It changes survivors' neurology and physiology: while the traumatic experiences happened in the past, the trauma very much lives in survivors' brains and bodies in present time. Yet, mainstream therapies are talk-based and rarely address the embodied experience of trauma. TFML offers a body-based alternative that supports survivors to express and process traumatic memories.
TFML was created by survivor, researcher, and artist Laura E. Fischer as part of her own healing journey. Laura first developed TFML as a trauma-sensitive creative practice, supported by Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. She was then awarded an Improvement Leader Fellowship by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) CLAHRC NWL and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust, which she used to investigate the application of TFML to improve the experience and outcome of traditional therapy for adult survivors of childhood trauma; giving control to survivors and means to ground themselves, self-regulate, and process traumatic memories more safely.
Many people resonated with TFML’s approach and requested workshops, which Laura has since then offered to a diverse range of survivors. In an evaluation of her work conducted by UCL, it was found that survivors participating in TFML described the experience as ‘safe’, ‘supportive’, ‘healing’, and ‘empowering’. When asked about the future direction of TFML, all participants wished to see TFML as a longer intervention with weekly workshops. Based on this feedback, Laura is now developing TFML and furthering her research on the embodied experience of childhood trauma with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London. You can find out more on the Research page of this site.
TFML was showcased by The Lancet Psychiatry through a series of twelve photographs published as covers for the journal’s 2019 editions, along with an article.The first sketchbooks and videos of TFML are held in the Central Saint Martins Museum Collection.