Soteria: Reflections on “Being With”


From the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care: Yana Jacobs, LMFT reflects on her experiences providing art therapy at a Soteria House and “being with” people in extreme states.

“So what is psychosis? I believe that psychosis is an amazing and powerful defense mechanism, a mode of survival when something in one’s life is simply intolerable. This more often than not stems from a trauma.

Trauma is different for each individual. What one considers traumatic another may not. Therefore, it requires a deep sensitivity and understanding, listening, and ‘being with’ to learn about what might have triggered this response of psychosis. It is only from the ‘being with,’ that is, with the development of a true relationship—that will allow for the story to unfold and understanding and human connection to set in. This is where ‘recovery’ happens.

I do not believe that we can say that psychosis is a biologically induced state. Maybe there is a small percentage of people for whom one day science will discover a link in their DNA, but I believe that the majority of our friends and family who are deemed ‘mentally ill’ have been diagnosed without any scientific evidence to support this hypothesis.”

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