Tag Archives: American Bible Society

What is trauma-informed care? Filling a gap within care ministries


Yesterday I had the good pleasure of sitting with key leaders of organizations involved in trauma healing around the world. Much of our focus was on what these organizations were doing around the world (successes and challenges) and how would we function together in an alliance. You might expect we spent most of our time talking about projects and activities. You would be right.

However, I was given a few minutes in the afternoon to open up a dialogue about how we ensure that our organizations are adequately trauma-informed, for the sake of both our target populations as well as our own staff members.

What is trauma-informed care?

Last year I did this podcast for The Samaritan Women to introduce the topic of TIC. The idea, in short is that organizations serving traumatized individuals and communities would have a base understanding of trauma (what it is, how it impacts bodies, behaviors, spirits, relationships, etc.) and how to provide quality care that does not re-traumatize or hinder recovery. Of course, all human service and ministry agencies want to help. But, we know that not all that we do, even when well-intended, is helpful. Thus, there is a need to review policies and procedures to see how well we are serving others. If trauma victims tend to lose voice (power), relationships, and meaning, then do our organizational activities support the reversal of these losses?

For agencies seeking to self-evaluate around TIC categories (safety, trustworthy and transparent, peer-support, mutuality, empowerment/choice, and considering culture) start with assessment tools found at samhsa.gov or other TIC websites. The tools can help you consider gaps in training, policies, and interventions.

But don’t forget…

No organization will be adequately trauma-informed without caring also for staff members. It is tempting to put all the focus on how we care for our target population and completely forget about the staff who are doing the work of trauma-recovery. We can neglect their self-care, neglect the reality of secondary trauma. Most who are attracted to trauma healing (or as we said yesterday, those who get bit by the bug) are likely to neglect their  own emotional and physical health for the sake of helping others.

So, ask a few questions:

  1. Are your trauma healing specialists given voice for how to serve others, in building strategic plans?
  2. Are their ample opportunity for staff to voice concerns and complaints from staff policies to implementation? Can they evaluate their superiors in appropriate ways?
  3. What organic self-care opportunities are built into the organization?
  4. If a staff member begins to show signs of their own trauma, will they be cared for or will they be seen as weak and suspect? Is help only provided after the fact or as a prevention strategy?
  5. What opportunities for continuing education and mentoring exist?
  6. When was the last time you surveyed emotional, relational, spiritual safety within your organization?

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Filed under mental health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma, Uncategorized

4 Reasons I Promote Scripture-Based Trauma Healing


[Note: broken link fixed. If anyone is interested in taking this course with me this summer, see here.]

As a psychologist I have had a front row seat to observe the destruction that traumatic experiences have on individuals and families. And as a professor training future counselors I see the necessity of passing on best practices for treating those with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). New understandings of trauma’s impact on bodies, minds, souls, and relationships appear on the pages of our academic and clinical journals. As a result, I read daily about innovative attempts to hasten trauma recovery for individuals and even whole communities.

With a world filled with trauma, it is clear to me we need an army of psychologists and mental health practitioners. How else could we address problems faced by 60 million displaced peoples in the world at present? How else could we address the scourge of sexual abuse, where worldwide 1:4 women and 1:6 men have experienced sexual violation before they reach the age of 18?

So, given the needs I have just mentioned, why would I spend considerable time and effort to promote a bible-based trauma healing training program? Let me tell you four key reasons I think this program is essential to address the world-wide problem of trauma. [Note, this is NOT a paid advertisement.]

Trauma disrupts faith and identity. The church must be at the center of the response

While many practitioners recognize the physical and psychological symptoms of PTSD, fewer have noticed that trauma disrupts and disables faith and connection to faith practices. Just now the scientific community is beginning to track this problem and acknowledge the role faith plays in the recovery process. Some are brave enough to suggest that failing to utilize faith practices and communities in the recovery process is tantamount to unethical practice! But most mental health practitioners have had zero training and experience engaging faith questions as part of treatment. The field of psychology is waking up from more than 100 years of training practitioners to ignore, even reject, faith as essential to healthy personhood. If faith is essential to most people on the planet then any intervention must engage faith and spiritual practices if it is going to consider the whole person.

Dr. Diane Langberg recently reminded a world gathering of national Bible Society leaders that trauma needs in the world are far too large for any government to handle. The only “organization” in the world situated to respond to at both a micro and a macro level is the Church. But is the church prepared? We need the church willing to understand the nature of trauma and participate in supporting faith and Bible-based healing responses. These responses include practices the church has not always been known for: validating, supporting and comforting victims, speaking up about injustice, inviting individual and corporate lament, re-connecting oppressed people to God. We need the church to be a safe community for victims.

The Healing the Wounds of Trauma (HWT) program fills this void. It offers basic trauma education, illustrates how God responds to traumatized peoples and provides simple yet effective care responses average believers can enact without being professional caregivers.HWT_USA_2014

While I believe we psychologists with specialized skill sets are essential to trauma recovery, much of what we do can be done by every day individuals. I tell my students that most of counseling is not rocket-science. Being present, listening well, building trust, validating, asking good questions, and walking with someone in pain is largely what helps counselees get better. With a little training, the church can be at the forefront of the trauma healing.

But we need an army…of capable trainers who reproduce

There are approximately 2.2 Billion Christians in the world today. If we decided (and I am not suggesting this AT ALL!) to only serve traumatized Christians, we do not have enough capable practitioners to serve those in need. The ONLY way we would be able to serve this population is to train up capable trainers (wise, able to work well with others, understand group dynamics, know when to be quiet, etc.) who are then able to reproduce themselves and make even more trainers who subsequently serve ever increasing populations. This creates a cascade effect—1 trains another who each, in turn, trains others. Conservatively speaking, one training of 35 future trainers could reach up to 15,000 traumatized people in 3 training generations.

To maintain quality, the program must be able to be delivered and passed on in a consistent manner. The HWT program is designed not merely to educate participants regarding trauma symptoms and good care/healing practices but how to pass on such knowledge and skill to others. The facilitator (trainer) handbook provides a wealth of information to ensure that the quality does not erode as the information is passed on.

Experiential learning trumps lectures every time

In the West, we cherish academic lectures as the primary training mode. Lectures enable a speaker to give a large amount of information in a short period of time, with minimal interruption. A good lecture casts vision, identifies problems, and points to effective responses. But a lecture cannot produce skilled practitioners. Any academic mental health program worth attending will require practicums where head knowledge is put into repeated practice.

Consider this scenario. My father is capable of building a house. He sits me down and he spends hours gong over the steps to building an addition to my house. I listen, take notes, and even handle the tools that will be used. Am I prepared now to build the addition? No! If I am to build a proper addition, I will need to do so under his close supervision. In fact, most of the hours of lectures are not necessary at all. What will be more effective is his teaching me as we build together.

The HWT program is all about experiential learning. Participants learn as they experience trauma and trauma healing through story, dialogue, and practice. First applied to self and then in consideration of others. This is in stark contrast to most continuing education programs that amount to little more than monologues and passive audiences. While the monologue may give more information, it is highly unlikely that participants can in turn teach what they heard to others. The HWT program is not designed to deliver large amounts of new academic information. And yet, what participants get via experience and practice will be far more easily passed on when they become the teacher. There will be no army of trainers if we cannot quickly get experience and practice and pass on what we learn in simple everyday language.

Good training hinges on contextualization

If trauma is universal, then it might be thought easy to deliver trauma healing training across cultures. This is not so. If I prepare a lecture or training on trauma in my context (the megalopolis of the Northeastern seaboard of the United States) but deliver it on a different continent, my training may be of minimal value. The reason it is sure to fail is that what I had to offer didn’t fit the context; it didn’t speak to the heart of that audience. Good training must be contextualized so that participants immediately recognize trauma in their settings and that interventions make sense. Imagine if I deliver a talk on good conflict skills to a hierarchical society but emphasize the need to speak in “I” language (I need, I feel, I would like)? Such interventions will rightly be rejected as inappropriate. And if experience holds, whatever else I say will also be rejected.

The HWT program is founded on contextualization. Not only has it been translated into many different heart languages, the central stories and illustrations are also contextualized so that the participants can see themselves in the stories and interventions. At heart of each lesson, participants are asked about their own culture’s take on the particular problem. In dialogue, they compare responses to that of biblical passages highlighting trauma, grief, loss, and pastoral care. Nearly every major training point addresses context and encourages participants to develop creative interventions in keeping with key biblical and psychological foundations.

Is the HWT program all a traumatized person needs? No, it doesn’t assume this. Is the HWT program perfect? Of course not. I continue to make suggestions for improvement and the authors and developers are some of the most flexible I know, always looking for ways to improve the materials and training program. There are many other solid programs out there, but few programs I know have refined the content and delivery systems to be able to scale out across the globe. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the Mission: Trauma Healing team at the American Bible Society as co-chair of their advisory council and occasional trainer.

For a more visual exposure to this training, see this downloadable documentary.

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Filed under Abuse, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, counseling, Missional Church, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, ptsd, teaching counseling, trauma, Uncategorized

Conference on Refugees and Trauma, March 15-17


If you are in the Philadelphia area, I want to give a final shout out for an important conference put on by the American Bible Society’s Mission: Trauma Healing. This will be our 5th (I think) Community of Practice conferences where trauma recovery practitioners meet to learn and encourage each other in the work of trauma healing. If you have never been before but want to hang out with folks doing trench work around the world, this is the place to be. Missionaries, mental health experts, ethnologists, linguists, pastors, humanitarians, and everything in between are the common attendees. This tends to be a rather intimate conference where you get plenty of time to talk around tables with folks doing what they talk about.

This year our conference theme is We are Sojourners: Refugees and Trauma (conference information and registration link).  What makes me excited this year is the diversity of presenters. We have well-known psychiatrist Curt Thompson presenting on attachment injuries related to trauma. We have presentations and a documentary unveiling about African Americans in the US (yes! Refugees can live in a land for generations and not be fully “home”). There will be presentations by Diane Langberg as well as presentations by experts on the current refugee crisis from the Middle East.

In addition, there will be this activity on Tuesday night which includes musician Michael O’Brien at historic Christ Church.

Those who have attended before should realize that this is now held in Center City Philadelphia at the office of the American Bible Society and not at the Mother Boniface Spirituality Center in the North East.

If you are interested in the wide world and burdened about trauma and refugees, come and meet your family!

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Filed under "phil monroe", conferences, Counselors, Diane Langberg, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Training, trauma

Watch this on shame and trauma


A couple of years ago Diane Langberg spoke on shame and trauma for the American Bible Society. I highly recommend this 56 minute presentation. She talks about the experience of shame, the stickiness of self, communal forms of shame, and the myriad ways we respond to shame across various cultures.

We watched it again in staff meeting today. Make sure you catch her discussion of what some cultures believe cleanse shame. And then notice how that is close but a huge distortion from a Christian view of what heals shame.

Watch it here.

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Cameo in “Hope Rising” on ABC on November 30


Hope Rising, a documentary about The American Bible Society’s efforts to bring trauma healing to the Congo is going to be played on some local ABC stations beginning November 16. However, it airs here in Philadelphia on November 30 in the wee hours of the morning. I make a brief cameo in the documentary. Plus many of my friends doing the work are featured quite a bit. It will be aired on another local ABC affiliate channel, #246, the Live Well Network (LWN) on December 3. But, as they say, check your local listings or follow the instructions on this page to ask your local affiliate to air the program. In the meantime, check out this trailer,

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Join Our Trauma Healing Community of Practice: March 17-19


March 17-19, 2014 is the 3rd annual Community of Practice hosted by the American Bible Society and their Trauma Healing Institute. As Advisory co-chair I have been involved in the planning for this event and am excited for what it is shaping up to be. Once again, we will be at the Mother Boniface Spirituality Center in Northeast Philadelphia.

If you are interested in networking with trauma recovery facilitators from 6 continents you should come. If you are interested in getting NBCC CEs, you should come. If you are wanting to learn more about the ABS trauma healing model, you should come. There will be presentations on the following topics (a sample)

  • Reports from trauma recovery work in Uganda, DRC, refugee camps, Sri Lanka, and more
  • Update on Resiliency (myself)
  • Urban Trauma (Michael Lyles, MD)
  • Shame and Trauma (Diane Langberg, PhD)
  • Military Trauma (Pat Miersma)
  • Trauma and children (Bethany Haley, PhD)
  • Update on current trauma recovery research (Matthew Stanford, PhD)

Check out this link to see the speaker list and networking opportunities.  Same link will allow you to register.

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Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, trauma

Trauma Healing Equipping Week: February 2014


Biblical’s Global Trauma Recovery Institute is sponsoring the American Bible Society’s Trauma Healing Equipping seminar set for the Philadelphia area late February 2014. This is a week-long seminar that gives participants hands-on experience with the Healing Wounds of Trauma material. If you are local and would like to have experience with this Scripture engagement material (excellent for use in churches or lay counseling contexts) that explores both content and means to teach others, I highly recommend you check out this 2014-02 Equip PA Flier.

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Addressing Trauma in International Settings: 3 Models in Dialogue


The 2013 AACC World Conference continues. Thursday, Drs Harriet Hill, Matthew Stanford, and Diane Langberg and myself will make the above titled presentation. Harriet will present an overview of the American Bible Society’s Trauma Healing Institute work of developing helpers who can help others re-engage Scripture around their traumas. That model is centered around the small but helpful book, “Healing Wounds of Trauma” (you can find this on bibles.com). Matthew’s work is the Mental Health Grace Alliance project of hope groups–structured support groups that have been tested in Bengazi IDP camps and other locations. Diane and I will describe the beginning work of the Global Trauma Recovery Institute which is designed to support the existing work by local caregivers.

Follow This slide show link for our slides.

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Filed under AACC, Africa, Diane Langberg, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A day of trauma recovery: Stimulating talk and an important reminder


American Bible Society

American Bible Society (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was the first day of the Community of Practice convened by the American Bible Society and their Trauma Healing Institute. The room was crowded with recovery specialists in practice around the world. While a few are mental health experts, many are missiologists, bible translators, linguists, pastors, etc. All are individuals who felt the need to address the pandemic of trauma in their little corner of the world. Participants are working in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America, Europe, Canada, and the U.S.

It was a stimulating day. Opening remarks by the new ABS president, Dr. Doug Birdsall, reports from ten different areas about recent trauma healing efforts. We heard about what was going on in Nova Scotia to Namibia to Nepal to Nigeria; in South Sudan, Kenya, Thailand, the DR Congo Papua New Guinea and some sensitive areas.

I got a chance to take the group through a fly-over of the cost and context of psychosocial trauma, some recent understandings of the impact of trauma on the body and concluded with a summary of what we know works (and some possible reasons why) and might be transferable and scalable in other parts of the world. Dr. Michael Lyles brought us an update of PTSD and tied it to the experience of the parable of the Good Samaritan. We also heard about resilience training in Namibia and the trauma of persecution and torture in the Middle East.

It is exciting to see what God’s people are doing with just a few resources and to hear how the Bible Society’s program of recovery is maturing and growing by leaps and bounds. However, Doug Birdsall’s meditation on Luke 10 is still ringing in my ears. After sending out the 72 to do ministry, they returned with joy over the great activity they saw. People were healed; demons cast out; the kingdom expanded. Jesus responds to them by saying something rather startling,

Yes, and there is even more amazing things to come. You haven’t seen anything yet. BUT, don’t rejoice over the fact that you have power to cast out demons. Instead, rejoice in the fact that your names are listed in the roll of citizens of heaven. [my paraphrase]

It is good to take heart in the small army of trauma recovery specialists. God is up to something great, even bigger than we can now see. But, it is always more important that he has come and redeemed us. Make sure that you are more happy about your redemption than about what you can do for God.

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Filed under Africa, Biblical Reflection, Missional Church, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma, Uncategorized

Job opportunity in trauma healing


American Bible Society

American Bible Society (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American Bible Society has posted a job in the She’s My Sister and Trauma Healing Institute project. It is probably entry-level but will involve travel and close work with trauma healing projects around the world. The right person will need to be able to run projects, be organized and, of course, have a deep love for Jesus! Attached here is the job description. I know and highly respect Bagudekia and Harriet, the people leading this position.

 

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