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.
July 9, 2014
Wednesday morning. We had our last lovely breakfast at Solace guest house, packed our things and left to travel a little over an hour south to Centre Saint Andre, a retreat and conference facility. We arrived in time to get our rooms to put our things away and get to the start of the conference. This Community of Practice conference, run by the Bible Society of Rwanda, is their first ever such meeting of trauma healing facilitators and is designed to raise the level of skills and knowledge of the facilitators as well as share best practices among them. Our role at the conference is threefold: lead some of the teaching sessions, listen and respond to case consultations and, best of all, get to know the facilitators and share experiences. The room was set with tables for 6 with 4 Rwandans and 2 Americans each.
The conference began with a bible study by the secretariat of the Bible Society. He spoke of the necessity of having the right names for things. He noted the significant difference in naming Rwanda a country healing from genocide instead of Rwanda a genocide country. Each table then discussed successes and challenges. At my table we heard of many good stories of healing (Success) but also that the
Credit: Heather Evans
facilitators feel much guilt for not helping more (Challenge). They struggle with feeling worn out and impoverished helping others. Some noted how their own families and marriages were suffering given that they found it hard to say no to tangible needs of those they were trying to help. They noted that many of the recipients did want to have tangible gifts in order to take time to be in a healing group.
Next, Diane Langberg presented on the topic of shame. She defined guilt as a response to what we do but shame as a response to what we perceive we are or have become. She noted there are different types of shame but all result in a loss of “glory.” Some religious traditions believe that blood (honor killings) is the only way to cleanse the family of shame. She pointed out that while this is gravely distorted view of shame/honor, blood IS the only cleansing of shame–Jesus’ death and resurrection. She explored how Jesus did not run from the shame, that the image of God is one who runs after the shamed, who clothes them, who brings them his honor.
In response, the table groups considered three questions: What is considered shameful in Rwanda? What does the church say is shameful? Which of these are false sources of shame per the Scriptures? Consider some of the items mentioned,
- To be pregnant without a husband, yet a man is proud
- To divorce or separate
- To be impotent or barren
- To be a victim of rape
- To be drunk (if woman); only shameful for a man if he does something wrong when drunk
- To engage in open conflict; to talk openly of problems
- To be in need/impoverished
- For a woman to talk about domestic violence; to be a man beaten by his wife
- to have disobedient children
- To be albino
- To commit adultery (church endorsed shame); to be HIV+
Interestingly, it was not always agreed upon which items should not be considered shameful.
We ended our training day with a teaching/group interaction I did regarding addictions (the nature of addictions, what the Scriptures say, and how these facilitators can help improve commitment to sobriety in those they seek to help). I think most Americans and Rwandans felt the beginnings of connections forming as personal stories were told to us and we received them for what they were, treasures.
Starting Monday I will be off traveling to Kampala, Uganda and then on to Rwanda for Global Trauma Recovery Institute. I welcome your prayers for myself, my students, and the attendees. In addition, Diane Langberg and myself will be leading a group of 12 Americans (10 GTRI students) on a listening/dialogue immersion trip throughout Rwanda. Some of the highlights of our trip(s) will include,
- 2 day trauma healing community of practice in Kampala with the Bible Society of Uganda
- 3 day trauma healing community of practice in Rwanda with the Bible Society of Rwanda
- Afternoon mini-conference with pastors in Southern Province, Rwanda
- Day with the newly forming Association of Christian counselors in Rwanda
- Visits to NGOs working with trauma victims and street children
- Church services
- Visits to genocide memorials
- Visit to a refugee camp
- Numerous conversations, formal and informal over the next two weeks
I will make some attempts to update all on my trip as I go. You can follow me here and @PhilipGMonroe or @BTSCounseling. If you are interested in seeing more about the GTRI engagement model, check out this short video. And, if you would like BTS to continue doing this kind of missional work, feel free to go here and donate before the end of our fiscal year, June 30.
Our Global Trauma Recovery Institute is featured in the most recent issue of the EMCAPP Journal for Christian Psychology Around the World. Pages 172-211 include an overview of GTRI, two essays by Diane Langberg (The Role of Christ in Psychology; Living to Trauma Memories) and one by me (Telling Trauma Stories: What Helps, What Hurts).
The journal also contains an essay by Edward Welch (www.ccef.org) where he muses his development as a biblical counselor, explores the matter of emotions and some of the stereotypes of biblical counseling. The journal also includes a large number of essays about Paul Vitz as well as a number about the Society of christian Psychology.
Take a look!
Filed under "phil monroe", biblical counseling, Biblical Seminary, christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling skills, Diane Langberg, Ed Welch, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma
At the beginning of 2013, Biblical Seminary launched Global Trauma Recovery Institute to train recovery specialists here and around the world. We’re small but thus far we have taken 20 students through 120 hours of continuing education, another 15 have just begun, and we are now preparing some of those first students to travel to Rwanda to observe and participate in trauma recovery training with local caregivers. Those students we serve are from or located in three continents plus the United States. In addition, we have represented GTRI in trainings in South Africa and Rwanda this year as well as engaged Christian counselors in Romania during one of their trainings. Our hope for 2014 includes more of this kind of training as well as our first immersion trip with students. Think we are just focused on the international scene? No! The “abuse in the church” video on the right hand bar of this site was sponsored by GTRI as well.
Maybe you wonder what we do and how we handle cross cultural challenges. Check out this short 3 minute video below to see our (myself and Diane Langberg) heart for raising up capable recovery specialists here and around the world as they follow Jesus into the world.
Want to support? After viewing the video, please consider supporting us with prayer and even tax-deductible donations. If you do choose to donate, this link will bring you to a donation page. You can give to the seminary’s general fund (without their support, GTRI would NOT exist!) or you can give a specific gift to GTRI. Just note that in the comments section. Your gifts will enable us to serve more international students and to begin the formation of learning cohorts on other continents!
[Note: Link on image is broken, click here to see the video]
I want to point out and recommend a new collection of meditations designed for counselors and written by Dr. Diane Langberg. This ebook In Our Lives First: Meditations for Counselors (Kindle version first, Nook version to follow) consists of 40 meditations, each with quotes from some of Dr. Langberg’s favorite authors and with questions for you to ponder.
Dr. Diane Langberg (pictured above in the banner of this blog) is a practicing as a psychologist for the past 4 decades. Regular readers of this blog will know her as one of the leading experts in all things related to PTSD, trauma recovery, and christian counseling. For years she has been writing books and articles as well as speaking around the world on matters near and dear to her heart. For those of you familiar with Dr. Langberg, you may recognize some of the stories and ideas in the meditations. Many of these have appeared in some form in her Christian Counseling Today column or in her lectures.
If you are a people helper (professional or lay; clinical or ministerial) and have ever felt burned out by the work you do, I highly recommend these meditations. As Dr. Langberg tells us, the work must be in us first.
Bias alert: I helped edit this volume. I do not gain any monetary benefit from sales.
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.
Today, AACC’s World Conference begins at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. This morning, Dr. Diane Langberg and myself will be running a pre-conference workshop entitled: Narcissistic Leaders and Organizations: Assessment and Intervention. I will start us off with a meditation from 1 Kings 1 (ideas I first heard from a sermon by Phil Ryken last year). We will review current explanations of narcissism as well as an emerging model that may be helpful for those who are trying to move beyond seeing narcissists as only arrogant and exploitive.
Can a system be narcissistic?
Yes. Here are some of the features.
- Leader exudes god-like status and does not share power; surrounded by yea-sayers, unwilling to tolerate disagreement, accept mentoring and willing to scapegoat others when failures arise
- Constituents gain self-esteem/identity from the organization and love of the system is the highest priority; insider status provides immeasurable value
- There is an approved way of thinking, one must take sides for/against; constituents justify dictatorial behaviors of leaders
- No toleration for admiration of competitors
- Inability to assess own weaknesses
But, here is a most interesting fact: most collective narcissistic systems are NOT filled with individual narcissists! There is something “in the water” that brings non-narcissists together to develop these 4 features (as written about by Golec de Zavala and colleagues in 104:6 of the the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology):
- Inflated belief and emotional investment in group superiority
- Required continuous external validation and vigilance against all threats of loss of status
- Perception that intergroup criticism is a threat and exaggerated sensitivity to any form of criticism
- Intergroup violence can restore positive group image (violence may be verbal as well as physical
Why teach counselors about narcissistic systems?
Counselors often interact with church and parachurch systems by consulting with the system, counseling leaders, or advocating for an individual client. It is good to be able to (a) recognize some of the unhealthy egocentric patterns (blind spots) leaders and systems develop, and (b) offer help to individuals and systems that do not get the counselor sucked into the system or unnecessarily alienate the system. I have had the opportunity to work with a significant number of churches and have learned that there are ways to help and ways that I can get in the way, especially if I begin to attack a long held belief system. For example, if parachurch organization A has had a string of CEO/Board conflicts, then I as a counselor may have to navigate some long cherished beliefs about the system when asked to consult on their next hire.
Location map of Rwanda Equirectangular projection. Geographic limits of the map: N: 0.9° S S: 3.0° S W: 28.7° E E: 31.1° E (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I leave today for my second favorite place in the world–Rwanda. (1st favorite is wherever my wife and kids are). We are returning to do another level of training for counselors and caregivers (see this post for our previous Project Tuza reports) from a number of organizations caring for widows, orphans, HIV+ individuals, and trauma victims. [The photo at the top of this blog is from that last training] Our training this time will focus on domestic or family violence interventions, children and sexual abuse, and dealing with dissociation. In addition, we’ll focus on basic helping/listening skills and the features of good storytelling in counseling (not all efforts to tell trauma stories are helpful or healing).
Check back here to see posts about our training. I hope to be able to make some during our trip, but depending on connections, it may have to wait til we return. Here’s our itinerary:
6/21-6/22: Newark to Brussels to Kigali
6/23-25: church (preaching), visiting friends, important sites, meetings in preparation for this and future trainings; in both Kigali and Butare.
6/26-28: 3 full days and 2 nights of training, led and sponsored by World Vision Rwanda and AACC.
6/29: Participate in Umuganda (national required public service in Rwanda), final meetings, and boarding the plane to return home.
It is a short trip but we are able to,
- give our new team members experiences in listening to the strengths and challenges of a community (essential to provide help that is not harmful or useless)
- provide objective hands-on skill training (not mere information giving)
- seek advice of local leaders as to future trainings (we always need to improve our ability to train well)
- Enhance our relationships (Lord willing, we will continue to return year after year)
Check back for updates.
Over at my other site, www.globaltraumarecovery.org, we now have part II of Dr. Langberg’s talk (March 2013) on dissociation. This video covers the concepts of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and complex trauma. She ends with 10 principles and cautions for therapists working with clients who dissociate and/or who present with alternate personalities and identities.
Check out the video here. If you missed the first video or want to find other free resources, click around on that website.