Tag Archives: cultural trauma

Planting Flowers for 2019

cartoon showing animals planting flowers hopefully for 2019.
Source unknown.

At the Inner Arts Institute,  we spent 2018 “planting flowers” like the character in this cartoon. Our work expanded with an intensity that felt dizzying at times. What a joy!

In this New Year, I am so grateful for the incredible clients and collaborators who helped us plant seeds of peace and healing in our communities. I want to take a moment to acknowledge those who co-created with us. We can hardly wait to see what blossoms in 2019!

Connecting Family Constellation Work to Cultural Trauma

One of the brightest “flowers” we have been cultivating is deep training in how to help people integrate cultural trauma. First, I completed Part II of Thomas Huebl’s training in Collective Trauma Integration last spring. This profound journey brought personal growth, new friendships, and new tools for Family Constellation work; namely, a greater ability to hold space for the shadows of large-scale traumas such as war, famine, slavery, terrorism, and natural disasters…. and explore how these shadows reside in our culture and in each one of us.

Secondly, Thomas Huebl was also the keynote speaker at the 2018 North American Systemic Constellation conference, where Collective Trauma Integration is starting to be recognized as a natural evolution of Systemic Constellation work.

I had the privilege to introduce him to fellow North American “constellators” there, and also to lead a Collective Trauma Constellation workshop. Other members of the Inner Arts Institute team stepped into leadership roles at the conference, too. Comma Williams and I co-facilitated a Medicine Wheel Constellation, drawing upon the shamanic training that has influenced both of us deeply as practitioners. And Kimberly Clementi-Eadon introduced her work on Constellations with Adolescents.

It was a great joy  to share our work in the North American Constellation Community which has provided so much inspiration over the years. We hope that we planted seeds that will flower in the work of Constellation practitioners far and wide!

Collective Trauma as a Source of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

3 people on stage in a panel discussion
Samvedam, Christiana, and another speaker in panel discussion at ACEs conference in Bermuda.

An unexpected highlight of 2018 came when I was invited to present a talk on Collective Trauma Integration at a large conference on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in Bermuda. Research has shown that ACEs play a huge role in physical and mental health struggles in adulthood. This understandings has inspired new efforts to recognize and address trauma occurring childhood.

In Bermuda, racial issues stemming from colonialism and slavery have brought tremendous pain that continues to impact new generations of Bermudians. My role was to share insight about how children can inherit Collective, or Cultural Traumas that impacted their families… and  to offer a model for healing such an enormous wound. The intensity between white and black people filled the space in our conversations.  Continue reading Planting Flowers for 2019

Collective Trauma Work… Mine and Yours

“I don’t think this has much to do with me.”

I heard this from a number of people at the Celebrate Life Festival, a dynamic annual European consciousness event that was held for the first time in the U.S. this summer.

Racial division, white supremacy, and white privilege were words that we invited into our midst. They dropped into a sea of discomfort that quietly built, even though many of us could not identify with these words…

“It’s not me!”

Continue reading Collective Trauma Work… Mine and Yours

Constellations and “Collective Trauma”

Towards Healing the Shadows in our Culture

by Samvedam Randles, LMHC, Dipl. Psych.

silver lining, a metaphor for trauma therapyThomas Huebl, who has done significant healing work around Holocaust trauma in Europe and Israel, recently sent out an invitation to mental health professionals, scientists and other professionals to explore what can be done to understand and heal collective trauma.

Last month, 150 practitioners answered that call and made the journey from all over the planet (39 countries) to his Pocket Project training in Israel. They brought their knowledge, skills and resources, as well as the traumas that have impacted (and are still impacting) their countries. I was one of them. I’m now back home, and before daily routines claim all of my attention again I want to share a little of the amazing journey that I was immersed in. I feel a new level of peace within, and my understanding has been upgraded a few notches.

What is collective trauma, and why is it critical that we learn to address it?

In The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk explains trauma in simple language. He says that our ability to “stay present” gets hijacked by survival-related emotions and sensations when an incident overwhelms us in ways that we cannot cope with. When the event is more than we can process, we dissociate or go numb. Then, the traumatic charge lands in our physical body, where it can be reawakened by something like a smell, a sound or an image that is associated with the traumatic event, sending us back with a flashback to the traumatic experience.

What happens when trauma gets internalized on a larger scale? Collective trauma, sometimes called cultural trauma, occurs as a result of large-scale events like war, genocide, colonialism or terror attacks. The violence and shock is so overwhelming that the entire culture goes numb, disassociates, or finds other ways to create distance from the truth of it. People may survive and move on with their lives, but the actual feelings associated with the event stay frozen, unintegrated, in the cultural body.

This frozen emotion forms an underlying energy around the culture. Unconsciously, its members then see reality through a lens that is fogged up by this unresolved past. And everyone who is born into the culture thereafter simply assumes that this fogged-up picture is reality.

broken windows, a metaphor for a traumatized psyche

Most Family Constellation facilitators have experienced that moment when a Family Constellation suddenly shifts into a Cultural Constellation. The cultural trauma that impacted the client’s family at some point in history becomes so dominant in the field that it cannot be ignored. It demands to be seen, felt and integrated.

How can this be accomplished?

Who can “host,” or open to such intensity, when the emotion is so overwhelming?

Constellation Work & Collective Trauma – The Boston Marathon Bombing

These questions arose in my own practice as a Constellation facilitator after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. The Saturday after the bombing, our Boston-area Constellation Learning Group met as usual, but nothing else happened in the usual manner. Continue reading Constellations and “Collective Trauma”