Radical Healing & Connection

“When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good… When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements which seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions which seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.” ~Carl Rogers

Trauma-informed care is necessary. This lens supports the healing of individuals. When we are trauma-informed we understand the pervasiveness of trauma, and we are intentional about doing what we can to avoid retraumatizing people.

Relationships and meaningful connections are essential to healing. Healing happens in community. Healing is an ongoing process, because we live in a society made up of systems that are perpetually causing harm.

Dr. Shawn Ginwright, a leading thought leader on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development, and Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department at San Francisco State University, uses the term “Radical Healing” when he speaks about the direction we need to move towards when supporting people to heal from trauma.

Dr. Ginwright stresses a mutual approach that works so well within the paradigm of peer support. In fact, he states that these philosophies need to extend throughout an entire organization. Instead of working with someone, we partner and learn with them. As we have talked about throughout this training, that means taking a mutual approach to healing. When we are open and honest about our own journey of healing, we create deeper connections and we break down hierarchy. When we make relationships the center of our work, we disrupt the old status quo, and we work towards healing our traumatized systems.

In his powerfully transformational work, Dr. Ginwright shares five principles of healing:

  • Culture
  • Agency (acting on one’s own behalf)
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Aspirations (and creating possibility)

We cannot support radical healing if we ourselves don’t first work on our own healing. Doing our own work must always be the starting point of all work we do in this field. It is essential that organizations create a culture that encourages staff to engage in their own healing. We all have wounds. We all have pain. Healing work is essential for all of us. When we can talk about that, we can release the toxicity and shame that come with trauma.

A sense of humility is needed every step of the way, as we can’t possibly have all the answers. Together we can create supportive communities where we equip each other to navigate the challenges of healing, so we can all flourish.


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Post-Secondary Peer Support Training Curriculum Copyright © 2022 by Jenn Cusick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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