Can a whole community heal its collective traumas?


Recently, we heard a provocative presentation about trauma by psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk in front of about 500 people in the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington, MA. He has researched and pioneered various integrative methods for helping individuals to heal from trauma. In particular he values the use of neurofeedback. Although inexpensive and effective, this still seems likes an underused option, both for trauma as well as other mental health challenges such as attention deficit disorder.

In the Q&A, I asked Dr. van der Kolk about residential centers for the healing of some of the most serious traumas and learned more about the work being done at The Meadows in Arizona. We acknowledged that there are very few residential centers doing this work and pondered, with the number of healing communities already in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, whether or not one might be developed there. (We note that Dr. van der Kolk now has a home in the Berkshires.) While this may not be his focus, I was pleased to have been approached by others who observed our public conversation, indicating their interest in helping to create such a center in the Berkshires.

Dr. van der Kolk provoked the audience by suggesting that our county - and any large community - might become a community that could heal its traumas, starting through work and training in schools.

I endorse this grand vision and hope that his presence might help to stimulate its implementation. Whether in the Berkshires or elsewhere, Virgil Stucker and Associates endorses dialogues and initiatives that can help us to become healing communities at the population level, starting with each family and growing from there, with schools, associations, congregations, and whole villages and cities paying attention to the needed attributes.

In order to help with this process we offer free use of a tool I developed and have used many times called the "Healing Community Dialogue Matrix". If you are interested in accessing this tool, please email me. I am happy to facilitate its use and to train others to use it as well at no cost.

Can a whole community become a healing community? What a grand vision! We certainly need to move into this direction in our nation.

If you are interested in the study of trauma, we highly recommend this accessible and applicable book written by Bessel van der Kolk:

The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

#trauma #besselvanderkolk

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Disclaimer: As therapeutic consultants, we advise, advocate, recommend, facilitate and empower, but we do not treat mental illness or addiction. We are not licensed mental health professionals, but will often refer you to professionals and programs for treatment. (Note: We have no financial relationship with any of these professionals or programs.)  Any consultation we give is for educational, informational and motivational purposes only and is not meant to replace professional psychiatric, psychological, programmatic, legal or financial advice you may need for yourself or your family member. 

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