Trauma and Resilience

Over the past several years MCC’s global partners have increasingly called for more support for addressing psychosocial trauma in their communities. As MCC has become more engaged with supporting psychosocial interventions, we have struggled with multiple questions. Should we understand trauma healing work primarily as peacebuilding or health initiatives? Can trauma interventions in situations of protracted violence and structural trauma be carried out in a way that goes beyond simply helping traumatized people cope to also support efforts to dismantle and transform unjust political, social and economic structures that traumatize people in the first place? When is it useful for “outsiders” to teach about trauma and when it is more appropriate for practitioners to work within their own cultural contexts? How well do trauma materials and curricula translate across contexts? When is a counseling approach most appropriate and when is a community-based awareness approach more relevant? Finally: What are we learning? What are we finding that works (and does not work) when seeking to address psychosocial trauma?

The contributors to this issue of Intersections respond to these questions and many more. In these articles we hear about interventions addressing long-term legacies of trauma as well as psycho-social responses to shorter emergencies. We hear stories of practitioners coming from the outside and facilitating narrative storytelling or using art to reflect a story back in new ways. We hear of practitioners from within a context naming the importance of counselors supporting clients, all of whom live within the trauma of a protracted conflict situation. We hear of curricula that have transcended cultures and contexts and have been utilized in meaningful ways and contextualized locally. Finally, we hear a challenge to better support MCC’s staff and partners who are living and working in contexts of ongoing violence. We are left with a final question: How can we work to become a trauma-sensitive and resilient organization? We still have much to learn.

Krista Johnson Weicksel is MCC’s Peacebuilding Coordinator.

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