Featured in the Garrison Institute Newsletter Autumn 2009
From PTSD to domestic violence, trauma is a serious, fast-growing epidemic. Contemplative practices show promise for enhancing healing, recovery and well-being for trauma survivors. The Initiative on Transforming Trauma (ITT) advances the use of contemplative- based methods for treating trauma, including of vicarious trauma (VT) often experienced by trauma workers and human services providers. Major support for ITT is provided by the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
June 2009, the Garrison Institute held the first-ever Transforming Trauma Leaders’ Forum.
ITT is nearing completion of a mapping study of the field of contemplative trauma care, with the first phase of publication available on our website this fall. Led by Garrison Institute Senior Fellow Deborah Rozelle, Psy.D. and University of Michigan researcher Anthony King, Ph.D. and aided by Garrison Institute research assistant Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, the report explores the current state of the emerging field of contemplative-based trauma care, documenting which contemplative- based practices are being used in which populations with what success. It synthesizes observations and offers recommendations for future research and treatment.
“We are kept from the experience of Spirit because our inner world is cluttered with past traumas. As we begin to clear away this clutter, the energy of Divine Light and love begin to flow through our beings. ”
—Fr. Thomas Keating
Specifically, the study examines how various contemplative practices are being used at various developmental stages; for what symptoms or problems they are being used, whether these practices are primary or adjunctive and whether clinical adaptations make use of contemplative practices explicitly or implicitly. It also discusses how spiritual leaders view the potential for contemplative practices to help trauma survivors and the state of the conversation between leading contemplatives and clinicians.
A “Zeitgeist” section looks at how contemplative-based trauma treatment is popularly viewed and discussed in books, the media and online and an appendix overviewing scientific research offers an analysis of what has and has not been studied to date.
In addition to firsthand interviews and questionnaires (respondents include the June 2009 Trauma Forum participants and other field professionals), written sources for the study include the newsmedia, scholarly books, peer-reviewed journals, professional periodicals and online database searches. The information gathering process is ongoing and will continue after publication. Written sources assembled so far have been organized into a reference library database with over 1200 EndNote references and counting. In the future, a majority of the reference database can be made available to researchers and practitioners and eventually the public
The Wellness Project to alleviate vicarious trauma, has been successfully piloted and is now entering a broader dissemination and replication phase.