Community Stories: Protection in the Face of Trauma - October 22-24, 2017

Culture of Radical Engagement.png
Culture of Radical Engagement.png

Community Stories: Protection in the Face of Trauma - October 22-24, 2017

from 250.00

Date: October 22-24, 2017
Time: Sunday, 2:00pm-7:00pm; Monday, 9:00am-5:00pm; Tuesday, 9:00am-5:00pm

Tuition (no CEs): $250.00
Tuition (with CEs): $270.00
Add Leadership for a Culture of Radical Engagement (no CEs): $300.00
Add Leadership for a Culture of Radical Engagement (with CEs): $330.00

Continuing Education (CE): 15.75 contact hours

Location: Gestalt Institute of Cleveland

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Mark Fairfield, LCSW, BCD

The human species evolves by selecting for its most adaptive versions. Over time the prevalent thinking on the meaning of “adaptive” has also evolved, under the influence of the fields of anthropology and social neuroscience. Today we understand that, rather than a measure of an individual’s strength or conditioning, adaptiveness is a relational capacity that our species has enhanced for millennia. Human adaptation has stretched toward extending our sensitivity and vulnerability, favoring abilities of more nuanced detection, engagement and learning from the complexity of our environment.  Of course, the nervous system infrastructure that gives rise to our sensate experience is itself a vast network of neural hubs, extending among and between whole populations. 

The very concept of a relational network of nervous systems has major implications for the field of trauma-informed care. Imagining a vast shared nervous system, we should reform our thinking about the origins and appropriate responses to traumatic stress. For example, in addition to the dysregulation one brain undergoes in the aftermath of a stressful event, a broader disorganization also befalls the social surround. 

This is especially relevant when the stressful event was a heinous crime (as is so often the case in trauma). The social consciousness can rupture, pulling apart the narrative threads that otherwise bind together into a coherent community story. The event is erased from people’s memories. People often even collude in denying what happened. When this is the response, there is a disconnect between trauma symptoms and the context that helps people make sense them. This affects the consistency and quality of support made available to those overtly labelled “victims”. The capacity of the social environment to notice, recognize and story a stressful, disturbing event will powerfully shape the degree and severity of a traumatic response.

To create a more coherent experience in the face of trauma—one that supports the possibility of grieving losses and recovering resilience—we need to realign the story our bodies protect with the story our communities spread. Finding what mends those broken narrative fragments into a shared community story requires a capacity to identify how the Story of Domination is at play in unravelling our collective responses to trauma. 

We need to build capacity for deconstructing the stories of separation propelling trauma. Our trauma-informed practitioners should listen for and promote stories of mutuality, stories that remind us how we are all interconnected and how the whole system keeps the score. Finally, we need healing practitioners to take a stand for restorative justice, especially when it becomes obvious that serious, heinous crimes and atrocities lie at the center of a person’s trauma.

This workshop advances the goals of the Culture of Radical Engagement series by confronting more deeply the Story of Domination—and especially that story’s power to worsen and maintain trauma. Participants will be introduced to perspectives and practices designed to draw out appreciation of the ways whole systems share ownership of the burden of trauma. The learning format includes somatic experience and education, critical story development, social analysis, communal storytelling, and a further resonance practice.

This workshop is designed/appropriate for all professionals including: Counselors, social workers, psychologists, physicians, nurses, art and music therapists. Coaches, managers, supervisors and others interested in exploring these topics are welcome. 

Learning Objectives
Participants completing this workshop will be able to:

  • Explore trauma responses in relation to Stories of Separation; 
  • Assess how adjacent witnesses to injustice play a role in the degree and severity of trauma-related “symptoms”;
  • Engage their practice communities in valuing the need to build capacity for coherent collective responses to trauma; and
  • Build skills for facilitating community conversations that activate the leadership of community witnesses to take a stand when inequities persist in the wake of trauma.