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REBECCA: I’m going to answer this one from a very personal standpoint—it’s stability. I had a lot of change in my personal life, moving across the country and starting a new job, and I knew that what would remain stable in my life was the Institute. I like to think that our community feels that way—that regardless of COVID, or organizational changes, or racial trauma that
practitioners find leadership roles in their local public health structure and professional associa- tions they belong to, which will give us a broader base of acceptance. REBECCA: More public outreach, to various audiences, is already underway and will be a priority. For the general public, we need to focus on “explaining the science.” All of us have seen what SE can do for traumatized people, so we need a very consistent outreach to explain SE to people and how it can help them. We’ve already started outreach to other professionals, including first responders and disaster relief professionals, through the initial work of our public health initiatives team. As a lawyer, I would love to see outreach to explain how our community can fit into the legal world. We’re imple- menting ethics
money, we could provide some level of financial support for our training assistants and offer more scholarships. In fact, the ideas are limitless if we have the financial ability to fund those ideas. It will require “big picture and big dollar” fund- raising so that we can say “We’re making a big difference in the world.” Just think about our current COVID situation—think if we could reach tens of thousands of people right now. Q. What one word comes to mind when you think about the transition of the last 18 months? Michael: Trust. When I think about that word, it means that small things can have a big footprint—and that it feels very natural to take those small steps because of the level of trust among people. When it came to the realization that we needed to shut down our in-person training, we moved ahead aggressively based on trust—a belief that the staff, faculty, Board, and other stakeholders would move together to do the right thing because we trusted each other.
Q. Let’s discuss some of the new activities underway and what your longer-term goals are for them. Michael: Research is a big priority for the immediate future. SE is currently considered evidence-supported, but not evidence-based. Much more research is critical, because without it we won’t be able to get our foot in the door in the “power centers” of trauma treatment and infrastructure. As just one example: All of the 9,500 employees of the San Francisco Public Health Department are trained in trauma because the city decided to adopt a trauma-informed approach to public health. One of my dreams would be for the Institute and SE practitioners to have a seat at every table, so to speak, that wants to build trauma-informed systems and processes. As clinicians, we can see the good outcomes, but to validate SE as a treat- ment we must have research to back it up. We’ve had several randomized control trials using SE that are both quite positive, but we need dozens more. One of these studies resulted in the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), a major player in the world of trauma treatment, elevating SE from a “promising treatment” to an “emerging evidence-based treatment.” We established a Research Committee, which I chair, and also established the Peter Levine Somatic Experiencing Research Awards, which will award two scholarships in early 2021 to support those engaged in SE research. More research will certainly give us a seat at the table in orga- nizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA). I believe we have people in our community that could easily be in leadership positions within APA and I think it would be valuable to APA to have our input on SE for their members. And with more research sup- porting the benefits of SE, we can help our SE
Trust. When I think about that word, it means that small things can have a big footprint—and that it feels very natural to take those small steps because of the level of trust among people.
- Michael Changaris
came to the surface, the Institute was there for them as a foundation, because we could turn to each other. None of us in our community has the single right answer to the question “What’s next?” What we can do is listen, and learn, together. And that will bring us even more stability for 2021 and beyond.
It’s very important to me and the Board that we maintain the improved transpar- ency and ability for the SE community to have a voice in the organization—that is something we cannot let wither.
documents and a grievance process and have estab- lished a Diversity, Equity, and Inclu- sion Committee and a Scholarship and Review Com- mittee. It’s very important to me and the Board that we maintain
The Strategic Planning Work Group “The Strategic Planning Work Group embraced the history and successes of the Institute’s 26 years as well as the frustrations voiced in a 2019 member survey. We started with a 48-hour weekend meeting, followed by a community comment period, and several months re-writing the entire Somatic Experiencing® vision, mission, and strategies for the next decades. The scope and ambition of the project, along with detailed strategies and dates for implementation, was breathtaking. It gave me a deep respect for the man- agement team and staff—all working to make SE available to more diverse members of our world community. Now, 18 months later, in a pandemic, a world economy under stress, and social justice conversations front and center, this vision is becoming reality. Anti-racism training, professional ethics, BIPOC scholarship funding, assisting guidelines— we’re working towards of all these, and at a time when revenue is down and the entire training system has pivoted to online. This agility and dedication to making SE accessible, responsive to BIPOC, and more known to the general public inspires me.” – Suzie Wolfer, LCSW, SEP
- Rebecca Stahl
the improved transparency and ability for the SE community to have a voice in the organization— that is something we cannot let wither. Today, when we make a decision, it really takes a village because of the new feedback loops for more voic- es to be heard by more people in a way that can be a constant part of our decision-making. Did I mention fundraising? It is very clear that to reach our true potential of helping more people, we will have to do more fundraising. If we raise more
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