Techniques for Dealing with Trauma

Barry Hart

Eastern Mennonite University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Q: What techniques have you found to be the most useful in accomplishing the goals of your work?

A: I think what we believe in here at the Conflict Transformation Program at Eastern Mennonite University, is being reflective practitioners. That is that we are skilled analytically, and with strategies for trauma work and peace building work, but were also reflective in the sense that we reflect our own gifts, skills and limitations. We reflect on the larger picture of how we may work together and with others. We go into these situations with open minds and open hearts.

In a lot of ways that may be slightly different somewhat from other organizations that are more protective of what their doing or their funders are more protective. We try to really work cooperatively with local players. We are about empowerment of local actors through walking with them and through listening from them what they think needs to happen. I mean context is so critical and so are cultural, not just sensitivities, but our cultural analysis of where were going to and our limitations.

Also how we work with people in context and to really ask what is needed, how they identify with what has happened, and what their worldviews are. Of course every context is different and there are different people, different individuals. It is very important to look at those worldviews and find how then we might strategically fit in some of the things that were working with. Bottom line though, is relationships and building those relationships locally and listening deeply to people. This includes people who are traumatized and obviously in and through their trauma. Their own particularly gifts have a great wisdom for their context and how that then can be applied strategically.