Newspaper article

Culturally Meaningful Mind-Body-Spirit Approaches Address Childhood, Historic Trauma

Newspaper article

Culturally Meaningful Mind-Body-Spirit Approaches Address Childhood, Historic Trauma

Article excerpt

Oprah Winfrey’s recent “60 Minutes” interview with Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., and founder of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas, was a watershed moment. When Dr. Perry spoke about the impact of childhood trauma on the developing brain – one of the highest-profile features of this issue in the mainstream media – it was truly a welcome development.

Dr. Perry spoke of how children are much more sensitive than adults to violence and abuse wherever it occurs, and Oprah shared her perspective on surviving childhood abuse. The episode offered insight into how to reduce the developmental impact of toxic stress, such as the importance of positive relationships and access to therapy.

But there is so much more to this issue that was not reported by “60 Minutes,” including the solutions we are finding to prevent or reduce childhood trauma – and it’s happening right here, right now, in our community.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health’s 2013 Health Disparities report, adverse childhood experiences “cause changes in the architecture of the brain that affect everything from physical growth to emotional development to the capacity to make healthy decisions as an adult.” Moreover, multiple adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, such as growing up with domestic violence, mental illness or substance abuse in the home, increase the risk of alcoholism, depression, liver disease, interpersonal violence and suicide.

Tracking positive outcomes

Over the past three years, the Catalyst Initiative, previously at the George Family Foundation and now at The Minneapolis Foundation, has been tracking positive outcomes from its investment in community-based, culturally meaningful healing practices in response to both childhood and historic trauma.

Here’s what we have found:

* We all have the innate capacity to heal, but this requires intentionality and support. Access to culturally meaningful mind, body and spirit practices that are community led is fundamental.

* There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that trauma lives in the mind, body and spirit; therefore the healing must take place in the mind, body and spirit.

* We need to invest in building cultures of healing in the community and provide consistent, ongoing support; regular opportunities to train and try new tools; share what works – and gently shift social norms. Change takes time.

Catalyst nurtures our innate power to heal and be well through two primary approaches. The first is seeing self-care as primary care: We invest in disease prevention, stress management and normalizing healthy behaviors. The second is supporting culturally meaningful trauma healing practices that include access to healers and trainers skilled in reducing the impact of trauma.

Excellent examples are already at work in our community:

* Mind Body Medicine in Indian Country addresses historic trauma using a blend of traditional healing and evidence-based practice. …

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