Single Paper or Case Study

Mourning Unspeakable Loss: Processing a Stillbirth with Art Therapy and EMDR

Monday, March 26
10:30 AM - 10:50 AM
Location: Logan

When a stillbirth occurs, there is a cruel juxtaposition of the promise of a new life and the despair of the sudden loss of that life and its associated hopes and dreams. Grieving parents and families may find few outlets for expressing their feelings, as friends and even medical professionals often minimize or deny the significance of this “invisible loss.” The loss of an un- realized life can result in a complicated mourning process. The bereaved family can feel isolated, confused and conflicted. Responses ranging from depression and anxiety, to shame, difficulties with sexual and emotional intimacy, and a foreboding sense of hopelessness about the future or about conceiving another child, can accentuate the experience of feeling “stuck” in the trauma.

This paper describes a case study of a mother who experienced the stillbirth of her full term child. Unable to find words to express or contain her emotions, she used a blended EMDR and Art Therapy protocol to create a graphic narrative of the traumatic experience and gain access to previous unprocessed losses that had been standing in the way of healing. Ultimately, this creative and integrative approach opened up the possibility for a future healthy pregnancy and birth experience.

Learning Objectives:

Tally Tripp

Art Therapist & Psychotherapist
George Washington University
Alexandria, VA

Tally Tripp is a registered, board certified Art Therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Trauma Therapist with a private practice specializing in experiential approaches for the treatment of psychological trauma. Tally is the Director of the Art Therapy Clinic at the George Washington University where she is also an Assistant Professor for the Art Therapy Program. Tally is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP). She is a fellow in the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISST-D) where she is the founder of the Special Interest Group on Creative Arts Therapies. Tally maintains a private practice in psychotherapy in Alexandria, VA, specializing in experiential approaches, and particularly art therapy, for the treatment of trauma related disorders.


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Mourning Unspeakable Loss: Processing a Stillbirth with Art Therapy and EMDR

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