[This] book explores the ways in which the combined activities of thinking with others about written stories, exploring feelings, ideas and memories that emerge and then writing on the themes explored, can help young people to process both destructive and nourishing experiences... I hope that its publication will lead to others learning the skills to work in such an energetic, careful and creative way with young refugees and asylum seekers in various contexts.
As a theatre practitioner and writer, currently working with issues of asylum, I found this book to be helpful and stimulating as well as beautifully written. It provides insightful, creative and intelligent ways of working with traumatised young people.
The stars of Unpack My Heart with Words are four survivors of war and abuse whose words thread through Marion Baraitser's narrative. Offering both theory and practice, she takes us on an insightful journey as she delicately encourages these traumatised young people to respond to selected literature through dialogue and writing. I have a better understanding now of the term 'therapeutic resilience' and huge admiration for the Baobab Centre, its community of young survivors and therapeutic workers.
This book has a sense of straddling continents of theory and practice... Marion Baraitser has been working at the Baobab Centre as a writer-in -residence. She details her work, experiences and a critical perspective on many aspects of using words with young people who have had unique early lives, involving some or all of the following: warfare, receiving and/or perpetrating violence, abandonment, racism, identity crisis, dislocation, poverty and surviving without parents or carers. Baraitser visits relevant areas of consideration when working with this client group, including the nature of trauma and its effects on brain development; culture, age, gender and reading level of participants; sensitive choice of materials; many examples of world literature and exercises, which will be useful to other practitioners and topics such as collective cultural identity, groupwork, incorporating drama, 'performed language' and music... There is much that is transferable within this book for all 'words for wellbeing' practitioners...The particular stories and voices of the children are valuable in this volume... It is worth taking time with this complex and deep examination, not least as a reflexive tool to measure ourselves as facilitators against Baraitser's experienced account of a writer practicing with a traumatised and vulnerable client group.