top of page


You cannot lose your True Self. You can only fail to realize it.

 Richard Rohr


The True Self Project (TSP) is a program that teaches people how to heal their own developmental trauma. Through self-examination and the reciprocity of the group, individuals are introduced to concepts, methods and tools that help in healing their own trauma and the trauma that can run transgenerationally through the family. Individuals learn to identify and change the protective, False Self behaviors that have hindered them in relationships, work and life and ultimately manifest their True Self through the creation of art, music, or dance. TSP methods are based on sound research by respected neuroscientists and psychologists. In addition to building self-awareness and self-healing, TSP also teaches the importance of compassion and curiosity and dissolving attitudes of stigma often attached to mental health issues.


TSP helps transform the lives of New Mexicans by giving them the tools to recognize, prevent, and heal the effects of developmental trauma, enhanced through the creation of art, resulting in a society that is significantly healthier, happier, safer, and more productive.


The True Self Project was developed by Marythelma Ransom. She facilitated a bibliotherapy group where participants discovered that one of the most effective techniques for dealing with trauma would be some form of creative expression accompanied by a written analysis of its symbolic meaning. We focused on developmental trauma viewed through the lens of attachment theory, right and left brain hemisphere function, infant research, implicit memory, mirror neurons, and neuropsychoanalysis. We needed an understanding of our subjective experience. How much of our experience was coming from our True Self; how much was learned and not examined? We developed structure for thought that is both profound and simple.


What were the experiences that had caused us pain or loss? What were the behaviors that we instituted to avoid feeling the pain or loss, our false habits and who were we when we were true? What gave us a joy or a feeling of awe?


Our resulting creative projects symbolized unique experiences of personal history, the resulting protective False Self and the perceived True Self. We have found four things crucial to our process: 

  1. Understanding the significance of what happened to us in our lives.

  2. Creating something that tells that story.

  3. Writing an explanation of our symbols, what and why they make sense to us, and

  4. Sharing those creations so we can experience the healing power of being, seen, heard, understood, and valued for our idiographic selves. These four things together are far more powerful than any one of them alone.


The self-understanding we were experiencing was so exciting we invited others to join us. Adding another dozen or so to our group, we met bi-monthly to assess how we might develop an education program for the public. We decided upon a curriculum for a twelve-week class and an exhibit, utilizing the most important of human needs: relationship.


Very few of us are artists. Very few of us are writers or professional event planners. We nonetheless proudly present our experience. We want very much to stimulate your feelings and your thoughts about a definition of your protective False Self, and a recognition of your True Self.

 Nissa Patterson 

EMILY: Trauma, True Self, False Self



Invisible, watchful

Aching, hiding, seeking

Erupting with trembling rage




Restless soul flounders

endeavoring to be seen

healing spirit soars



Curious, autonomous

Anticipating, questioning, choosing

Pulsing with vibrant creativity


Using plaster-impregnated gauze, I molded these three masks over my face. Silk fibers that I had previously dyed were then needle-felted into canvas cloth. Family photos from my digital camera were modified into line drawings and stitched onto the needle-felted canvas fabric. The stitched canvas was then selectively cut and glued to the masks’ surfaces, and found-objects from nature were added to the masks. Finally, the masks were painted as needed.

I chose the subject of “Family” for my masks because I am extremely curious about my family members’ idiosyncrasies and how those behaviors continue to influence my present life. This exploration of “family”–through the vehicle of therapy–is ongoing. My education will continue in a supportive, structured psychological setting.

Note: The first mask (on the extreme left) is “Hidden in the Family Tree;” the middle mask is “Gone with the Wind... with Apologies to Margaret Mitchell.” The third mask from the left is “Out on a Limb.”

bottom of page