Training for Trauma

oklahoma-city-bombing-3There seems to be trauma everywhere.  For all the people who die  in shootings, bombings, floods and fires, there are countless others who survive, traumatized by those events.  After the tragedies, we hear that counselors will be deployed to assist those trying to cope after the fact.  In my denomination, the PDA leaps into action after somebody has opened fire in a movie theatre or after a tornado has twisted through a high school.  Thanks be to God.

But, think about it.  Every. Day. There. Is. Trauma.  Traumatic events seem to be on the increase, don’t they?

Children shot on a basketball court.  Shoppers shot in a mall.  Federal workers shot in their workplace.  And that’s just over the past week or so.

Cars washed away in floods.  Homes burned to the ground.  Whole villages squashed by an earthquake.  Again – all this has happened in just the past week.

And then there are survivors of car crashes, cancer, child abuse, and all manner of brokenheartedness.  These are the people who sit in our pews on Sunday mornings.  And they are the people who never sit in church buildings.

How do we serve these folks?  We can’t take away their pain or erase their memories.  But we are called to walk alongside them, to hear their stories.  And – as far as I know – there are no seminaries teaching pastoral care skills for trauma victims.  Maybe it’s best to offer this kind of training as a specialty.  But increasingly, it feels like all of us need this training.  Sadly, trauma is no longer a rare occurrence.  It happens every day.

Note:  HH and I have tickets to see the documentary Sole Survivor this week.  I consider this Continuing Education.  Will offer a review Friday.

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2 responses to “Training for Trauma

  1. We’ve been talking about offering some sort of trauma pastoral care seminar for parish ministers through our hospital chaplaincy program. I work at a Level 1 Trauma center. Maybe in Chicago there’s a possibility of working with any of the Region 11 Level 1 Trauma Centers? I’m not convinced that seminaries are where trauma pastoral care is going to be best taught, but there is a lot of on-the-ground wisdom and theological reflection happening in the pastoral care/ chaplaincy departments, especially the ones in downtown metropolitan areas, that could be really helpful.

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