Apr 1, 2014
By: Andrea Blanch Ph.D., Director, Center for Religious Tolerance, and Kimberly Konkel MSW, Associate Director for Health, Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Across the country, there is a growing movement to create “trauma-informed” services, organizations and communities. This movement reflects an understanding that psychological trauma and toxic stress are near-universal experiences that can affect every aspect of life, and that everyone has a role to play in addressing the issue.
According to national experts convened by SAMHSA, trauma results from events or circumstances that are experienced by an individual as harmful or life threatening and that have lasting adverse effects on mental, physical, social, emotional or spiritual well-being.
While many individuals experience traumatic events without lasting harm, trauma can place a heavy burden on individuals, families and communities. Trauma-informed supports can help.
Being trauma-informed means:
Many Americans find comfort and assistance from spiritual leaders and faith communities during times of grief, loss or trauma. In fact, many people turn to clergy for support before they turn to mental health professionals.
For some, religious beliefs and faith provide a source of wisdom or a narrative that can help re-establish a sense of meaning after a life-shattering event. For others, relationships formed in spiritual community are deeply supportive.
A growing body of research also documents the positive effects of prayer and spiritually-based practices like meditation, contemplation and sacred music.
For example, yoga is known to be an effective treatment for trauma-related problems; meditation and mindfulness training reduce depression and anxiety.
Clearly, faith communities have the potential to be healing.
A congregation that fully understands the impact of trauma and knows how to respond is trauma-informed.
In addition to understanding the impact of stress, a trauma-informed congregation:
Here are a few ways make your congregation or community more trauma-informed:
To learn more about becoming a trauma-informed congregation or community, sign up for the HHS.gov/Partnerships newsletter or follow @PartnersforGood on Twitter. By signing up, you’ll get invitations to learning opportunities, grant announcements, recent research and more.