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An Exhibit of the True Self in Art

Beneath the surface of the protective parts of trauma survivors there exists an undamaged essence, a Self that is confident, curious, and calm, a Self that has been sheltered from destruction by the various protectors that have emerged in their efforts to ensure survival.

- Bessel van der Kolk

Barbara's True Self, False Self and Trauma


Children with misguided, misattuned or abusive caregivers develop behavioral strategies that help them adapt to and survive their environment. While these strategies help children survive in infancy and childhood, they often interfere in developing healthy relationships later in adult life. The True Self Project provides participants with a structure and a safe and supportive group environment in which to identify the these “False Self” strategies and replace them with the tools to help them have a more authentic connection with the world through their healthy “True Self.”


The True Self Project (TSP) is founded on current research in neuroscience and psychology, including attachment theory, brain research, and True Self/False Self theory. Through group work, education, and the creation of art in a supportive social environment, we discover who we are truly meant to be.


Once participants understand the scientific foundations of TSP, along with the self-discovery that accompanies this new knowledge, they begin to symbolize their True and False Self through art, music, dance, poetry, or any other creative process. TSP began exhibiting these works in Albuquerque, NM in 2016. 

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