I just returned from Germany where I experienced applied Narrative Exposure Therapy at the University of Konstanz. This method has been successfully administered to traumatized people in "hot spots" around the world for years.
This system was developed at the request of the UN and is rarely taught (once in this country that I know of) -- I was hoping to take a later class because of the Harvard Global Mental Health credential program I begin in Italy in November, but there is no "later class" scheduled -- they are too busy to teach outside the those they train in the field and at the university. So I went even though it makes this Fall an insanely busy season. Now, Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts will be on of the few places where this method is taught.
Why did I want this training? There are four reasons. 1. It works to resolve trauma quickly -- 4 to 12 sessions -- tried and true over many years and thousands of people and it uses a visual/arts process -- most impactful. 2. The NET system is grounded in neuroscience of trauma based on years of studies they have conducted in the field -- the brain studies are articulated in ways easily available for lay people to understand and explain the often paralyzing symptoms that happen to a traumatized person and why NET is so effective. 3. They believe that lay people are intelligent and ready to educate and remediate severe trauma in their own communities once they are trained and supervised. The greatest underutilized resource in our communities able to educate and remediate trauma are people who live there. 4. This system of NET is culturally relevant -- every society has a story telling tradition: story telling is inherent in us as human beings. We are hardwired to tell our stories. Was I just repetitious yes. Why? We need to "get" the importance of the narrative, personal and collective --- yours, mine and ours.
I will be teaching this system to community people in Alaska, Louisiana, New York and California -- to begin with. I am collaborating with these folks to adapt Narrative Arts to the cultural needs of the communities which are combat veterans, Native Americans, African Americans who live in violent communities and other interested lay people. While the Konstanz folks call this therapy it does not fit the definitions we have in the U.S. for psychotherapy. However, it is therapeutic and remediates severe trauma. We also teach EFT and other tapping techniques whose efficacy has stood up to vigorous studies. We offer support in how to structure community programs as well as how and where to look for funding.
The Harvard Global Mental Health Program will provide me with untold riches. I am looking forward to that and will bring my experiences back here.
As the Ashlar non-profit is moving toward completion, we soon will be ready to receive funds to create educational materials -- animations and the Calming Breath CD's -- Breathe New Orleans is our first. We expect more health people to join our Advisory Board and will grow to include more resources available for the asking. In fact, we are available for information on all things sever Trauma Stress. Additionally, we will be able to fund trainees in our traumatic stress holistic programs that will take place in retreat. We have several arts projects in the offing. Thanks to everyone for your support.