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Center for the Living Arts

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Healing the Wounds of History

Healing the Wounds of History

Healing the Wounds of History (HWH) is a therapeutic and creative process in which experiential techniques are used to work with people who share a common legacy of generational, historical and/or collective trauma. This approach was developed by psychotherapist, drama therapist and theatre director Armand Volkas in 1989. The process is based on the premise that there can be no political solutions to intercultural conflict until we understand and take into consideration the needs, emotions and unconscious drives of the human being.

Healing the Wounds of history takes a psychological approach to conflict and provides a map to help both groups traverse the emotional terrain to reconciliation. We invite participants from groups in conflict, who are willing to be emotional pioneers for their cultures, to participate in this groundbreaking work. Healing the Wounds of History helps participants work through the burden of shared historical legacies by transforming their pain into constructive action. Armand Volkas’s work has received international recognition for bringing groups in conflict together as well as cultures who carry collective trauma.

Since its beginnings in 1989, the Healing the Wounds of History approach has evolved from the use of drama therapy in intercultural conflict transformation with two or more polarized groups into multiple applications including:

  • Workshops that focus on historical trauma and its impact on a single group, culture or nation.
  • Gatherings open to persons of diverse cultures who wish to explore their personal legacy of generational, collective, ancestral or historical trauma.
  • Therapeutic sessions with an individual, couple or family for whom historical trauma is a defining legacy.
  • Autobiographical therapeutic performances in which there is a historical trauma or generational trauma present in the narrative of the client that needs healing or transformation.
  • Therapeutic theatre projects in which a group carrying historical or generational trauma devises a theatre piece as a therapeutic act.
  • Playback Theatre performances combined with creative ritual or official commemorations that follow an intensive workshop.