Today I had a vision/idea. I have had this idea in my head for some time, but it is now taking shape.
I’m very interested (like most social workers) in the influence of trauma in a person’s life. The ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experiences- http://www.acestudy.org/) found that adverse Childhood experiences correlate with negative long-term health in generally, poor mental health and even a shorter life expectancy.
In the Downtown Eastside it is hard to find a person who has not experienced trauma. It seems like drug addiction has become an ingrained coping method that effectively masks the emotional hurt of the past. We have many health clinics, and outreach teams, and church missions in our area. However, I wonder how much treatment for trauma is actually taking place. Pharmaceuticals help with the pain, but I think there is more that can be done.
One of the obstacles in providing any kind of help here is the chaotic nature of people’s lives- which begs the question how much healing can take place within an environment that often recreates trauma (like our neighborhood). I have a neighborhood friend who I have spent time on and off for the past 4 years. It is hard to even make an appointment with her to do something fun like go swimming. How hard would it for her to go to counselling, or even focus in a session?
I wonder about clinically skilled, but harm reduction outreach counselling for those at the margins? Also: I would love to do this from a Christian perspective as I believe that God has an amazing unpredictable power to heal and comfort that even the best counsellor cannot provide. I will have to do some research but for now I’m getting in touch with friends who are knowledgeable in this area of work in the neighborhood, and researching online.
I think especially the integration of horticultural and art therapy would be really neat to accompany first stage trauma treatment. When I say first stage trauma treatment I mean teaching skills like grounding, containment, and journalling (see Lori Haskell’s book http://www.camh.net/Publications/CAMH_Publications/first_stage_trauma_treatment.html). This step is one that some suggest to provide a sense of safety and self-awareness before they are ready to tackle intensive therapy for trauma like Cognitive Processing Therapy or EMDR with a skilled therapist.
An idea. Let’s see where God takes it. I love dreaming.