Community conversations about trauma’s effects and paths to healing
We’re excited about our upcoming event on May 17. Titled “Acknowledging Our Brokenness,” it will be an evening of conversation on healing trauma for the individual and the community. Our hope is this will be the debut of a series of events that broadens the conversation around trauma’s impact and includes members of the community. Here’s the info:
“Acknowledging Our Brokenness” Tues., May 17, 2016 7:00 pm– 8:45 pm
Wilder Center Auditorium
451 Lexington Pkwy N.; St. Paul, MN; 55104
As we were contemplating the topic for our event, we knew we were interested in drawing people together to see the range of the issues related to trauma. We wanted to look specifically at showcasing different populations for whom trauma is impactful to their physical and mental health. We thought there could be a way to make it about the person, the community and the broader public. Ambitiously, we decided to have an event that showcases how trauma that impacts people across all areas of life. We felt there was a real need to look through both the small lens of an individual’s experience and the broader lens of how trauma affects the community and society. Our thinking crystalized along three paths:
Individual level: Starting at the microlevel of the individual experience, we wanted to explore the types of care that we provide people dealing with trauma. Rather than trying to treat trauma from the traditional medical and psychological standpoints, we believe our treatment systems need to become more coherent and integrative, including in our treatment approaches all of the different ways people are impacted by trauma. The same holds true with individuals in the education system. If we can be more trauma-informed in the way we deal with individuals, the question shifts from, “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” Our answers begin to shift as well. We’re helping people feel safe. When they feel safe, change becomes possible.
Relational/Community level: At the relational/community level, it’s important that we explore more effective ways to treat trauma as well because people thrive when the real issue is being addressed. You can look at something like the treatment of eating disorders. People may seek help for the symptoms of their eating disorder, but frequently those symptoms developed as a means of coping with trauma related nervous system dysregulation. When you address the trauma, the symptoms may no longer be unnecessary and frequently remit. Psychologist and Trauma Expert John Briere, PhD, is quoted to have said “If child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty.” We need to disrupt the cycles of trauma, and that takes work at the relational and therapeutic level.
Trauma is cyclical; it is passed down generation to generation. People repeat the cycle because hurting people hurt people. When we find ways to disrupt that cycle and address the trauma that underlies these patterns of behavior, people stop acting out. They go on to be more productive and engaged citizens and neighbors. If we help people become more of the impact of trauma on the brain and nervous system, people become more committed to not perpetuating it. When people are able to regulate themselves, they’re able to function at a much more moral level, keeping the experience of others in mind. While, sadly, relations