This Thursday, May 13, 2021, 1-3pm EDT. $15 for registration but you will receive a copy of JR Brigg’s book mailed to you. To register, click here.
Tag Archives: American Bible Society
If you are like me, you experience life now as an ongoing season of upheaval and distress. Between the pandemic’s staggering death count and losses and the racial wounds and ideological rifts we face each day, who doesn’t feel the crushing weight of pain? Yes, the outcome of the George Floyd trial and the success in vaccinating millions of Americans is a move in the right direction–and yet, even successes can trigger more grief. Just ask anyone who lost a loved one. When a new positive event takes place, it can sometimes trigger a shockingly deep wave of grief and loss. There is a lot of evidence that the way of grief and loss is just now really breaking on us like a tidal wave.
Have you ever wanted to an audience with God to tell him of your unspeakable pain? You are not alone. Job did. The Psalmists did. Jesus, the son of God, even did. We have their complaints and laments recorded for us to read and emulate. And since they are recorded in Scripture, we can accept that God invites us to make these cries known to him and to our neighbors.
If you want some help in writing a lament to express your pain to God and to your friends, consider using this new tool just created by the Trauma Healing Institute at American Bible Society. I want to point out a simple and free download where you can do this. Hear how the creators describe the need to lament:
In moments when human dignity is being diminished and violated…When safety and justice feel forgotten or impossible to find…When we feel like we cannot take another step…
Our pain is not a burden to God. God is present.
In times such as these, we here at the Trauma Healing Institute have just launched the new, free, easy-to-use Trauma Healing Basics resource: How to Lament.
This resource is a blueprint for honest prayer in times of great turmoil. God is waiting for us to pour out our hearts. Crying out to God with honesty in times like these is a form of worship; instead of turning away, we open ourselves to God. This little tool explains how to do it.
Is trauma healing effective for those in prison and jail settings? Sign up for the webinar and the data reveal
On April 6, 2021 at 7 pm EDT, the American Bible Society’s Trauma Healing Institute is hosting a webinar where we discuss recent research examining the effectiveness of Bible-based trauma healing with incarcerated individuals. Representatives from ABS, Baylor University, and Good News Jails & Prison Ministries will walk you through the project of bringing trauma healing groups to this population and will reveal some amazing and moving results. You may not think research can move you but I challenge you to come to this and NOT be moved.
Register for free here. If you can’t attend but want to view the recording at a later time, sign up.
in 2019, American Bible Society sponsored a study comparing chronic trauma in both churched and unchurched populations. It is out now and you can learn about it on a free webinar on August 6 at 2 pm EDT. I will be one of the guests talking about the implications of the research findings and how pastors and church leaders can be part of the healing path.
Sign up here. If you attend, Barna will give you a discount code if you want to purchase a print or digital copy of the monograph.
If you are looking to become certified in using the Healing the Wounds of Trauma curriculum, consider the next Philadelphia equipping sessions, October 4-7, 2019 at the Mother Boniface Spirituality Center.
These sessions are for both initial and advanced participants. If you have not been trained to use Healing the Wounds of Trauma healing group curriculum, this would be a great first experience. The 4 days will give you a first-hand experience of a healing group plus the training you need to lead healing groups for adults.
Already completed the initial training? Then come to the advanced session to deepen your healing group facilitation skills and to learn how to train others to become healing group facilitators. You will need to provide proof (in advance) that you have already led two healing groups.
I’ll be present for parts of the training and would love to meet you there and talk about ways we we make the church a safer place for trauma victims.
Register now. There are both residential and commuter pricing.
If you are looking to become certified in using the Healing Wounds of Trauma curriculum, consider the next Philadelphia equipping sessions, May 8-11, 2019 at the Mother Boniface Spirituality Center.
These sessions are for both initial and advanced participants. If you have not been trained to use Healing the Wound of Trauma healing group curriculum, this would be a great first experience. The 4 days will give you a first-hand experience of a healing group plus the training you need to lead healing groups.
If you have already taken the initial training and you would like advanced training to become a healing group facilitator or to become a trainer in this train the trainer program, then come to the advanced session. You will need to provide proof (in advance) that you have already led two healing groups.
I’ll be present for the training and would love to spend the 4 days with you thinking and experiencing how we make the church a safer place for trauma victims.
But register now. There are both residential and commuter pricing.
Over the years I have promoted the trauma healing curriculum run by the American Bible Society. Now that I am on the Mission Trauma Healing training team of the Bible Society, I will be letting you know of our upcoming local trainings. Whether or not you are local, you can always find out the trainings being offered around the world by us or our alliance partners here.
For those of you who might be new to the Healing the Wounds of Trauma curriculum, it is participatory/experiential healing group model where participants engage Scripture and trauma and explore a healing arc beginning with suffering, lamenting, grieving and talking to God about our pain. It is founded on mental health best practices by designed for lay leaders to learn and then pass on to others in a train-the-trainer fashion.
Currently the materials are contextualized and translated into 60 distinct languages with many more underway. Some 6,000 facilitators have been trained in the materials.
Why get trained? Here are some reasons:
- You want to better understand how to put faith and trauma recovery together in the same sentence
- You want to become equipped to lead others in a healing process
- You already know a lot about trauma but know that the needs are great enough that you want to have a part in raising up an army of well-trained helpers beginning the conversation about God and trauma
- You already completed the initial equipping training, have led a healing group and now want to come back for the advanced training to become certified as a training facilitator.
When is it? October 13-16 at Mother Boniface Spirituality Center in Northeast Philadelphia?
Details on cost and registration link? This link will get you to the details page and will give you the link to register. The price is ridiculously low for the training.
Starting Tuesday, The Mission: Trauma Healing ministry of the American Bible Society will livestream its 2017 Community of Practice. You can link up here. Conference begins at 8:30AM EDT.
Here are a few of the notable plenaries
- Tuesday 11 AM: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Trauma, By Diane Langberg, with Phil Monroe
- Wednesday 9 AM: The Exploitation of Power in Cultures, By Sherwood and Judith Lingenfelter
- Wednesday 3:30 PM: Your Power as Facilitator, By Phil Monroe with Diane Langberg
- Thursday, 9 AM: How to Empower People who have Lost Their Power, By Michael Lyles, MD
- Thursday, 11 AM Power in Trauma and Healing in Rwanda, By Baraka Paulette
There are other presentations but these are some of the key presentations on the topic of power. Hope you can make it online.
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:
- Are your trauma healing specialists given voice for how to serve others, in building strategic plans?
- Are their ample opportunity for staff to voice concerns and complaints from staff policies to implementation? Can they evaluate their superiors in appropriate ways?
- What organic self-care opportunities are built into the organization?
- 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?
- What opportunities for continuing education and mentoring exist?
- When was the last time you surveyed emotional, relational, spiritual safety within your organization?
[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.
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.