The vision for STAR from the very beginning was to expand our understanding of trauma’s harmful impact beyond the individual. STAR also looks at the effect of trauma on communities, groups, and nations. It includes historical, generational, cultural, and structural trauma. The goal was for trainees to learn a new, deeper understanding of psychological trauma. First, STAR offers an understanding that trauma is a normal physical response to frightening situations, and that it impacts the body as well as the mind. Second, STAR trainees learn that trauma is something each and every one of us can address—no special educational degrees are required. When we recognize the signs of trauma—us vs. them stories, redemptive violence narratives, good vs. evil language, etc.—we can step back and address the situation through a healing lens that builds resilience. And third, STAR tells us that there are tools and strategies that can make a difference right now. We can address root causes, learn self-regulation skills, and engage in restorative practices to address community as well as individual trauma. At the end of the first STAR training, trainees were hopeful and empowered. The results were not only gratifying, but extremely clear: what STAR offers could help people in new and different ways.
Right now, we are living in a time of collective trauma. There is not a single person who isn’t affected by what is happening with COVID-19 and racialized trauma, which means we have all the more reason to use a community-oriented approach. It is more important than ever to have restorative justice-focused strategies to address trauma and transform conflict. We need to go deeper than simply looking at our struggles as a mental health challenge; we need new ways of understanding each other and addressing the situations in which we find ourselves. The collective trauma we’re living through is creating polarization, isolation, and suffering. We can either add to the pain and wounds of the world, or we can be what Carolyn calls “agents of calm” to transform psychological trauma into nonviolent power with positive, productive alternatives to revenge within our spheres of influence. We have the opportunity to use STAR concepts and skills to calm ourselves to think creatively and clearly, accessing deep wisdom and healing as a collective for positive structural change.
Join us at an upcoming STAR training! Learn more here.