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Post-Polio Health (ISSN 1066-5331)

Vol. 18, No. 3, Summer 2002

A Guide for Exploring Polio Memories

Linda L. Bieniek, CEAP, La Grange, Illinois, and Karen Kennedy, MSW, RSW, Toronto, Canada

Psychiatrist and polio survivor Milton Erickson, MD, was considered a genius at helping clients make difficult changes. His success stemmed from his belief that problems are "gifts" that offer us valuable learning experiences, and his use of metaphors – symbolic language – which provided clients with an appealing perspective of their problems. In other words, he restated what felt like heavy problems into understandable, manageable, and, often, playful terms.

Likewise, we encourage survivors to consider the symptoms of their problems as a wake-up call for finding ways to experience healing power and the energy to stay healthy (Gilligan, 1997).

The Benefits of Psychotherapy

The good news is that research continues to present evidence that effective psychotherapy, using certain approaches, can result in positive changes for trauma survivors (van der Kolk, 1996). In Healing the Blues, author and polio survivor Dorothea Nudelman described how she has benefited from working through depression in psychotherapy (Nudelman, 1994). Other individuals who have benefited from their therapeutic experiences have reported the following improvements:

Survivors are encouraged to ask themselves what changes they want if they choose to invest in healing their polio memories. Those already in therapy may want to use this article as a tool to assess how their therapy is helping them make positive changes and what additional assistance they may need.

Continued ...