Trauma occurs when a person experiences something that is perceived as physically or emotionally threatening (SAMHSA, 2014). These experiences produce feelings of stress, terror, or helplessness that overwhelm our capacity to cope (Rice & Groves, 2005, pg.3). It can produce lasting effects upon mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Such trauma is prevalent, without regard for socio-economic, race, gender or religion around the world (Benjet et al., 2016). Our Center acknowledges that most, if not all, individuals will face some form of trauma in their lifetime. Trauma is not limited to abuse, neglect or loss but also includes event trauma, betrayal trauma and sustained duress (Wardle, 2001). For some, this may be direct, while for others it may be due to exposure to trauma stories and the firsthand traumatic experiences of others (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
The Center’s main goal is to provide trauma-informed education and care to people and places around the globe as we model the compassion of Jesus by helping to prevent traumatization or re-traumatization while promoting long-term healing from trauma. We offer trauma-informed awareness, education, and tools to support prevention and healing in organizations, schools, churches, and communities across the world acknowledging that the work of becoming trauma-informed is a continual journey. Andrews University faculty, students, and alumni at the Center are excited about the continuing opportunity to bring Christ-centered hope and positive, lasting changes to a hurting, fallen world that has been damaged by the deep emotional or psychological wounds caused by trauma.
Our educational approaches are grounded in science, are holistic, spiritually informed, culturally sensitive and provide applied practice within a variety of fields. Led by professional educators, trainings also provide students the opportunity to gain invaluable experience while partnering with professors to provide education and therapeutic trauma consultation. The Center is dedicated to equipping people to recognize symptoms of trauma, build resilience, and take practical steps to convey the powerful message of the hope of restoration.
From the local communities near Andrews University to the far reaches of the globe, there are countless people who live with the weight of past and present trauma in their lives. But faculty and staff at our Center believe that healing from trauma is possible. Over the last few years, School of Social Work faculty and students have traveled domestically and internationally to train groups and organizations about trauma awareness and provide practical healing from the wounds left by traumatic experiences and events caused by natural disasters, wars, personal and cultural violence, and the cumulative effects of deprivation and hardship. The goal of these trips is always to empower individuals for healing, to create more resilient communities, and to instill the peace and hope of God in the hearts of His children.
The first international trauma trip occurred in March, 2018. Partnering with ASAP Ministries, a small group of social work students traveled to Thailand to share trauma-informed knowledge, hope and God’s healing power with Karen Adventist Academy. The Thai teachers and students experienced hope and healing through the knowledge and coping skills they learned, and the Andrews students and faculty were also incredibly blessed - not only were they able to put their knowledge into practice, they were able to positively impact the lives of others.
One year later, a new group of social work students, professors, and alumni traveled to the Navajo reservation in Chinle, AZ over spring break of 2019. Here they provided trauma-informed information and skills to local children and adults, and also provided training workshops to Adventist teachers, pastors, and missionaries to better equip them for ministry to the Navajo people. In addition, groups have made domestic trips to present in churches and schools in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, as well as making local presentations to communities surrounding Andrews University. In August, 2019, the Center partnered with ASAP Ministries to take faculty and students to Ethiopia to provide trauma-informed training and care to refugees at a permanent camp. From there they traveled to an orphanage in Cambodia where the group provided training to staff and teachers from across Southeast Asia.
With the establishment of the Center, Andrews University School of Social Work students, professors, and alumni have the opportunity to bring trauma-informed education and holistic healing to people and places around the globe. We are excited about the continuing opportunity to bring Christ-centered hope and positive, lasting changes to a hurting world that has been damaged by the deep wounds caused by trauma.
A Post-Disaster Mental Health Team is an additional resource available to those we serve. Made up of an interdisciplinary team of trained professionals, it was created to offer a more immediate response to traumatic events. “Post-disaster” is defined as at least 72 hours after a disaster, when there is some stabilization but up to one year after the crisis event. This team can provide emotional support, psychoeducation on trauma, and connections to local resources.