Learning Objective: Participants will a) give an overview of the Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model (MPTM) b) describe effective facilitator practices during emotionally-charged group experiences, c) define vicarious trauma, how to recognize its symptoms and integrate a self-care plan, and d) revisit and adapt initial goals/action steps.
Ending this series highlighting content covered in the ADOH partner peer facilitator training coincided with completing another 11-week training. That we were doing so during a Christmas season unlike any we've experienced in our lifetimes wasn't lost on me. In an October 2020 article, Sabrina Walters writes, "We've all been through collective trauma this year with both the pandemic and the political unrest in our country. Not to mention all the normal life traumas that don’t stop just because we’re all dealing with COVID! Death, illness, relational issues — those keep happening, even now. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? But those of us who have the ability to talk about it, who come together in community — whether in your relationship, a support group, zoom calls, therapy, or other supportive relationship — when you’re able to process trauma in some safe space, that can lead to powerful growth: “Post-traumatic growth,” as John Mark puts it."
Walters' words reflect WHY ADOH exists - to help equip and support peer facilitators in leading safe groups where partners can do just that... come together in a community where participants share their trauma stories in a safe space, and move toward experiencing "powerful growth: 'Post-traumatic growth'". Or, as I prefer describing (and Jesus promised) that we "may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
It also wasn't lost on me that completing the training last week and the series this week occured in the middle of Advent. With awareness of 2020's collective impact, entering Advent was a gift I warmly welcomed.
Advent, a trauma-recovery gift
Memories of younger siblings’ crowding around the living room's bookcase, momentarily arguing about whose turn it is was to open that day's calendar door, always brings a smile. And, for the next several decades, it also reflects the extent of my understanding of Advent's practices during 1500 years of Church history.
About 12 years ago I recognized a growing soul-wearying dread as when entering the hectic, schedule-packed weeks leading up to Christmas. Oh, I loved the 'season' - family and friends gathering, baking and exchanging Christmas cookies, and candlelit Christmas Eve services. Yet, something was missing. And then I discovered Advent's history and practices through a pre-Christmas series of sermons.
Discovering and using devotionals like Biola University's Advent Project and this year, Scott Erickson's Honest Advent book, began transforming how I experienced the Christmas season. And, it didn't take long to recognize Advent's connection to trauma recovery. “Advent is my favorite liturgical season, and in this year of 2020, filled with stress and trauma, I am looking forward to it even more. Advent gives us time and space to name the darkness and slowly bring light in. Advent brings hope. Advent reminds us that we are a part of a two-thousand-year-old story of God’s love. This year, especially, Advent invites us to tell our stories and to remember that we are not alone. We are not forgotten. We are all part of God’s story of love, hope, and healing for the world.” Arlene Fletcher
Making the connection
Naming the darkness, telling our stories, and slowly bringing in light are essential steps during the three stages of betrayal trauma recovery. Warrens quote describes holding space for individual and collective grief as a pathway to once again experiencing hope.
Those I hold the sacred honor of guiding through peer facilitator training know the "cosmic ache" Warren describes. By acknowledging and validating each other's "deep, wordless desire for things to be made right", they move toward accepting that part of being human includes experiencing "incompleteness in the meantime" while living between Christ's first and second Advent. Her quote not only emphasizes the depth of betrayal trauma darkness, it also illustrates how journeying through Advent helps us find the Light again. We discover (or rediscover) the gift of learning to bear in tension a deep cosmic ache, with its deep wordless desire for things to be made right, while also holding on to hope.
Yes, "Advent gives us time and space to name the darkness and slowly bring light in. Advent brings hope. Advent reminds us that we are a part of a two-thousand-year-old story of God’s love." May Light, One that sometimes seems snuffed out, yet is flickering in the darkness and still present - guide you safely home.
Registration for the ADOH training beginning Wednesday January 27, 2021 closes January 12. Applications and interviewers are required prior to registering. Limited spots remain.