Vet to Vet -- an arts driven approach to healing the trauma story

We are very excited to announce the launch of the Vet 2 Vet program with and for vets suffering symptoms of traumatic stress.  We are teaching vets to be Narrative Arts Specialists.  Our goal  is that they take what they have learned and experienced themselves to help other vets suffering symptoms of PTS. Our lead person is Jim Famalero, an artist and Afghan combat vet.

Trainings involve our students going through the processes they will use. Though few in number, our rules are chiseled in stone.  The first: one: Always experience in-depth the processes you are going to use with others. 

When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness and our seemingly separate lives become meaningful

Yesterday was a day of contact with vets  and a reminder of the meaning of what we do at Ashlar:  giving hope and experience in resolving the all too often debilitating symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress.  It is such an honor to be a "player" in supporting people to re-inhabit their lives. Hurricane Sandy was  such a metaphor illuminating the devastation and destruction of  home and community and a very literal vision of the work that lies ahead-- both with the metaphor and the reality.  Making art, making peace.  Rebuilding devastated lives.   

look what is happening to JuvenileJustice: the work of Bruce Perry...trauma informed care

New America Media, Commentary, David Muhammad, Posted: Aug 28, 2012

Juvenile justice is transforming throughout America. Though there is a long road ahead to reform these systems into effective, rehabilitative programs that no longer make children worse, there is great promise in jurisdictions across the country, that are changing how they work with youth.

Read more...

Do not be daunted...

I  saw this at the check out desk at the hospital and was deeply touched: 

Do not be daunted
by the enormity of the world's grief
Do justly, now. love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
neither are you free
to abandon it!

The Talmud

watching and reading

I am always pleased to see that articles, films and video (You Tube) support our work with traumatized people.

This an inspiring piece... How many of us use the common sense we developed/learned as mothers (parents) or nurturers in our professions?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BvL8bAkRDE

Please send your favorite pieces that relate to our mission -- even if vaguely. This piece was sent by a colleague in Minneapolis.

 

PS don't forget to look at our registered clinical nutritionist Preeti Sharan's work on the use of probiotics for depression. You can scroll down for her blog on this topic. 

 

Ashlar Up-date

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.     

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious..." Carl Jung

As I am reading:  HEALING INVISIBLE WOUNDS, paths to hope and recovery in a violent world by Richard Mollica, MD, I find myself deeply touched -- over and over --  and wishing this were required reading by?... whatever Authority others (who have not read this book) accept. This may read like a book review but "hold it" gently in gratitude that people like this man exist. 

An example of his thinking: beauty and nature are not adjuncts to healing but are essentials. Common sense, eh?  Richard Mollica speaks for all of us who share these values

Who We Are

                  

We make art in order not to die from the truth.

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is a U.S. 501c3 non-profit arts organization designed to serve the personal story and address the trauma it may contain. Our work is educational and skills driven -- grounded in thirty years of community based experience.

We use photos, interviews, and teach guided writing (Writing Through the Body).  For those people for whom revealing identity is unsafe, we use multi-media memorial building to contain and share the story in an abstract or symbolic form. Our goal is Witnessing and facilitating the creation of a coherent narrative for our students toward well-being and resilience. 

Following from our initial work with Story, we collaborate with students to create a culturally relevant Self-Care program facilitated by them and supervised when necessary by skilled professionals.

We invite you to invite us to your community.