International Suffering and Trauma Treatment


Am working with a student on building a future course for students, licensed mental health providers, NGO workers to train them on the matters of trauma treatment in international settings with the course goal to take these trainees to a location where they train local trainers to use lay trauma healing measures.  I am imagining a course that is primarily on-line (using a course website, discussion board, webcasts, etc.) with some face-to-face time just prior to having the international experience. The course would enable licensed therapists to receive continuing education credits with the ultimate goal that those who complete this experience would be then prepared to replicate it in other parts of the world. Topics would include:

  1. Overview of trauma symptoms and the things that cause them (genocide, war, trafficking, domestic abuse, rape, natural disasters, etc.)
  2. Overview of local culture and customs re: health, strength, and medical intervention to ensure culture consistency and avoiding colonialistic approaches.
  3. Introduction to training lay trainers
  4. Secondary trauma and compassion fatigue issues

I have two reasons for a course like this: 1. trauma is everywhere, and 2. interventions need to be sustainable (not relying on western therapists to keep doing the direct service) and maintained by local individuals.

So, here’s my question: If you had an opportunity to shape a course like this, what would you want to see as part of the course? What would you want to avoid?

6 Comments

Filed under Abuse, counseling, counseling science, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

6 responses to “International Suffering and Trauma Treatment

  1. Crista

    I think this course sounds great and is much needed! I would make sure to include a model of community healing programs. In collectivist cultures, individual psychotherapy would not prove as effective as here in America. Also some violence and genocides are experienced as a community and therefore healing should be provided as a community as well. This can also become part of prevention measures as the community at large will receive psychoeducation, awareness, and empowerment.

    • CRISTA!

      Nice to hear from you. Hopes your studies are going well. Yes, absolutely, it would have a community and collectivist focus because individualist approaches (as well as professionally driven approaches) would not do well in most places.

  2. D. Stevenson

    Two thoughts – both referring to cultural awareness.

    “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”

    It is easy to be prejudiced without recognizing it about ourselves, particularly if our prejudice isn’t clearly in the formally recognized categories.

    Regarding the first: People sometimes say “I had a course, or courses, or read books and studied the culture” and then think they know the culture. An outsider can never fully know the culture because culture is like an iceberg. Only a small amount is visible. Even an insider cannot fully explain their/our own culture because many things are, “Everyone thinks this way, don’t they?” and only become perceptible when the cultures run into one another.

    The second statement pretty much explains itself. (It is also harder to explain and so I will let you extrapolate for yourself.) Ethnocentrism has many tentacles.

  3. Probably need a theology of suffering in there…Did God cause this? If so, why would I trust him to be there for me now? What to say and what not to say (like grief)…I would love to take the course…Look forward to it!

    • Good point. I would probably make that some sort of pre-reading since we teach that in psychopathology 101. But thanks for reminding me because I don’t think everyone will have thought through that important matter.

  4. Ruth

    I’d like to see consideration of overseas Christian workers – how trauma in their own lives could be dealt with (eg. the missionary who suddenly has to evacuate due to war; the Christian NGO worker who witnesses rape, savage murder or an accumulation of traumtic experience.)

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