I had a signature birthday in the early weeks of the COVID-19 shut-down. As I went back into my house after a physically distanced outdoor celebration with family, I found myself thinking:
Life is short.
The times are unprecedented.
Our response to this crisis/opportunity has life or death implications.
We urgently need awakened, courageous people whose actions come from the wisdom of deep listening.
I knew that I wanted to deepen that capacity in myself. I also knew that the trauma psychotherapy work I had done for the last twenty-five years would take a different turn. I would focus on meaning, purpose, and call in the midst of the multiple collective world traumas we are experiencing.
A brief bio
I am a citizen of the United States but have spent half of my professional life living and working in Asia (Nepal and Bangladesh), the Middle East (Egypt and Jordan), Africa (Kenya and Eswatini—former Swaziland), and the Caucasus (Armenia).
This profoundly impacted my worldview and career. I saw how structural violence and current or historical harms (economic inequities, racial injustice, colonization, etc.) in the US and elsewhere, are sources of trauma for communities and societies, not just individuals. I saw how the citizenship and skin color I was born with granted me advantages I neither earned nor asked for. It deepened my interest in how we heal, change, transform, and grow from current and historical trauma, not just one-person-at-a-time, but at a collective level.
Then, as a response to 9/11, I had the opportunity and privilege of developing those interests and questions---by then a passion-- into a multi-disciplinary justice and conflict-informed collective trauma training program. As the Founding Director of STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) I worked with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. STAR recently celebrated 20 years of training civil society and government leaders on six continents dealing with the effects of personal and collective trauma. The STAR approach integrates concepts and interventions from psychology, neurobiology, restorative justice, conflict transformation, and faith/spirituality. Read more about it in my book, The Little Book of Trauma Healing: When Violence Strikes and Community Security is Threatened (Good Books, Second edition 2020)
For several years I facilitated STAR trainings in the US and internationally. The suffering, courage, and resilience I witnessed taught me and moved me deeply.
And the beliefs that motivate me
Now, my own homeland is experiencing increasing inequality, turmoil, and many of the ”us versus them” dynamics that lead to trauma in ways I witnessed over the years. Changes in weather patterns from othering nature are devastating our earth home.
All this alarms me, even as it fills me with the awareness of possibilities. Because beneath the radar of the headlines, I believe "we are whirling in a cyclone of transformation", as Caroline Myss calls it. Many are awakening to our interconnectedness and the urge to co-create with God-Spirt-Source-Universe--- how ever you choose to name It. We're called to act in ways that bring Light, Justice, Healing, and Hope to our divided world.
I believe that our primary purpose is not to live the good life or even a good life, but to contribute to healing, justice, equity, and peace for all beings and the earth itself.
As I work with individuals and groups, I find that many people already sense what is life asking of them. This awareness does not come from the mind alone but from nudges longings, and even feelings of inadequacy.
Sometimes we are blocked because we try to bypass the unaddressed pain of our histories, overwhelm from the grief and pain of the world, or the limiting beliefs and anxieties we carry. Addressing these blocks opens the way to better serve our world in ways that bring a sense of deep joy and purpose.
Thus, this work is spiritual with psychological skills support. I employ the theories, techniques, and intuition developed over 25 plus years of working with trauma and challenging life situations. We listen deeply and sometimes in silence. To paraphrase Michelangelo, together, we break through the marble to release the true you and your gifts, for which the world is waiting.
- Licensed Professional Counselor (VA, USA) # 0701002640
- National Board-Certified Counselor (USA) # 50307
- MA Counseling Psychology, Alliant International University, San Diego
- MA Linguistics and Certification in TESOL, University of Pittsburgh
- BA English Literature & Education, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA
Certifications and Training Credentials
- EFT International Accredited Certified Advanced EFT Practitioner
- EMDR Certification Levels I and II
- EMDR Acute Stress Syndrome Stabilization Protocol for Individuals and Groups (ASSYST)
- EMDR Protocol for Recent Critical Incidents and Ongoing Traumatic Stress (EMDR-PRECI)
- EMDR Integrative Group Treatment for Ongoing Traumatic Stress (EMDR-IGTP-OTS)
- Internal Family Systems Online Circle
- Compassion Fatigue Educator, Green Cross Academy
- Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience(STAR) Master Trainer