Our Approach

Trauma refers to the psychological and emotional effects on human beings of disruptive events like war, genocide, criminal activity, sexual abuse, human trafficking, urban violence, abandonment, and natural disasters.

People are traumatized when they are overwhelmed with intense fear, helplessness and horror in the face of death. Reactions include disrupted sleep, health, emotions, relationships and hope for the future. Traumatized people often turn to substance abuse or physical aggression, perpetuating cycles of violence.

There are not enough professionals to care for a billion hurting people. Instead, the Trauma Healing Institute equips local church leaders with practical, biblical and mental health resources so they can care for their hurting neighbors. Our programs are designed so lay caregivers can help people find healing in the life-changing message of the Bible.

Response

Our core program is based on a workbook called Healing the Wounds of Trauma. First developed in Africa in 2001, it has been in regular use since then. It is now in its third revised edition (2013). It provides basic mental health concepts within a biblical framework, using Scripture passages and composite real-life stories to help people connect the teaching with their circumstances. It has been used with tens of thousands of pastors, counselors and traumatized people.

Its four authors include a psychiatrist, a professional counselor, a translation and Scripture Engagement consultant, and a missiologist. Co-author Dr. Harriet Hill now works with American Bible Society and directs the Trauma Healing Institute. Dr. Hill says that trauma is a wounding of the heart, and healing heart wounds happens best in the heart language. This is one reason materials are now translated in whole or part into more than 150 languages.

About the Book

Facilitators use the book to lead small groups in a participatory process to help hurting people identify and bring their pain to God—to express their pain without getting stuck there. Then they are invited to bring their pain to the cross of Christ for healing. As they release their pain, they are often able to forgive and sometimes can be reconciled with those who have inflicted the pain. They are freed to care for themselves and serve others.

The book has eleven chapters. Five of these are “core” and the others are used as needed. There is a separate edition for children, editions for earthquake victims and other special needs, and a story-based version for those without written language or with no Scripture in their first language.

Model

The program uses a four-stage process to equip caregivers and provide them with accountability and support so they can help hurting people. Where possible, we work first with national Bible Societies who provide leadership for the program in each country to help interested churches and organizations incorporate trauma healing into their ministries.

A Convening session gathers leaders to experience the program and decide if it is useful in their context. Equipping sessions train lay facilitators to help others using trauma healing. Healing sessions are held with small groups in local communities. The final stage is the Community of Practice, where facilitators and administrators gather annually for ongoing support and development.

American Bible Society

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