Marie-Dominique Genoud-Champeaux

Ashoka Fellow
Lausanne, Switzerland
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Marie-Dominique Genoud-Champeaux was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Too often when individuals go through a life trauma they are diagnosed with a condition and given medication and sent home. This “quick fix” medical response to psychological suffering is both too late—often waiting until the appearance of visible symptoms before making a diagnosis—and too reliant on medicines that fail to address the root causes of trauma. Marie-Dominique has designed a group therapy method of overcoming trauma that begins immediately after an event occurs. Both children and parents take part in her “reliance paths” sessions, which enable them to mourn openly in a healthy way and surrounded by a supportive community. These critical initial steps prevent a trauma from becoming too deeply internalized and causing irreversible damage.

To effectively assist someone in coming to terms with a trauma, it is essential to resist the common tendency for the traumatized to want to isolate themselves. Marie-Dominique practices the work “in group”, enabling the participants to meet people facing similar situations. Working in groups makes it possible for the affected to stop feeling guilty about their trauma as they realize that others are also going through similar hardships. This community approach also gives everyone the possibility to find extra strength among their peers, and to provide support, as well as receive it from others. Beyond this, the simple existence of the group itself helps to demonstrate to the participants that their feelings and reactions are quite normal and must not be considered a sort of abnormal disease.

By addressing the many types of emotional severance using a similar methodology, Marie-Dominique removes the barriers between the problems. Her aim is not to offer a new form of therapy, but to enable people to face their pain and overcome it. The process of “mourning” either in the case of a death, a separation, or an adoption is nearly identical: Denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. Marie-Dominique helps individuals go through those steps successfully thanks to a single process which is applicable to a large number of situations. The same process is already being adopted by professionals confronted with difficult situations, such as medical staff, lawyers, judges, and police officers.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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