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Shawn Ginwright on the Future of Healing

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Jun 06, 2018

In a new essay, Shawn Ginwright, professor at San Francisco State University and keynote speaker at the Guild’s 2015 Conference, argues that youth development models should move from “trauma informed care” to “healing centered engagement.” While acknowledging the importance of trauma-informed work, Dr. Ginwright’s own experience working with young people—in particular, young African American men who have experienced severe trauma—indicated that the term “trauma-informed” did not “encompass the totality of the [young people’s] experience[s] and focused only on [their] harm, injury and trauma.”

“For me, I realized the term slipped into the murky water of deficit based, rather than asset driven strategies to support young people who have been harmed. Without careful consideration of the terms we use, we can create blind spots in our efforts to support young people,” writes Dr. Ginwright.

After identifying possible deficiencies with the “trauma-informed” framework—including that it focuses on individual rather than collective harm, and that it is centered on pathology rather than possibility—Dr. Ginwright offers a “healing centered” lens as an alternative approach. According to the essay:

“A healing centered approach is holistic involving culture, spirituality, civic action and collective healing. A healing centered approach views trauma not simply as an individual isolated experience, but rather highlights the ways in which trauma and healing are experienced collectively. The term healing centered engagement expands how we think about responses to trauma and offers more holistic approach to fostering well-being.”

You can read the full essay here.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.