Keeping our healing practices survivor-centered

August 3, 2017 | BY Heather Masterton and Monica Martinez | FILED UNDER JHF BLOG >

Healing from trauma looks different for every survivor. At Joyful Heart, our healing programs are based on honoring each survivor’s journey.

We recently expanded the core of this work as participants in Blue Shield Foundation of California’s Learning Circle Project, a collaborative learning experience with seven other leading organizations serving domestic violence survivors. The learning circle’s work culminated in a July 2017 report, “Going Against the Grain: A Report from a Survivor-Centered Practices Learning Circle.”

The paper speaks to survivor-centered practices and shifting the field toward having a more trauma-informed approach. Through this learning circle, we explored what it means to have survivors lead their lead on healing.

The report, which highlighted discussions within the learning circle, establishes a set of values to consider while helping those who have experienced trauma. Survivors should be recognized as whole people and experts of their own experiences. They should hold the key to their own healing, which is personal and evolves in its own time.

For healing professionals, organizations should adapt to survivors’ needs and choices. This means healers need to be flexible. It is important not to mark the progress of healing through a specific model. And for survivor-centered approaches to work at its best, they should operate within a nurtured trauma-informed culture.

With these measures, the learning circle hopes organizations and their staff can work toward transforming the field. This includes broadening practices by investing more in peer-sharing like this learning circle; creating opportunities for survivors to share what healing practices worked for them; and engaging with decision-makers so they can better understand why these practices matter.

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