Mariette van der Merwe


Social workers and other professionals in South Africa are constantly challenged by the impact
of extreme traumatic events on many of their client populations. This article focuses on a
specific area of post-trauma intervention, namely understanding and actively working with
traumatic memories. The underlying theoretical paradigm is the constructive narrative
perspective (Meichenbaum, 1994) with a focus on more than mere information processing.
Account-making and restorying traumatic material into a verbal narrative is core work.
Meichenbaum (1994:103) rightly postulates: “People make meaning of their lives by
organizing key events into stories which they incorporate into a larger life narrative.” The
process of meaning-making incorporates each individual’s subjective interpretation of events.
Psycho-education is a central part of the process to empower traumatised persons to initiate the
process of memory shifting

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