Social Justice Education needs Trauma Informed Care, now more than ever: A response to “The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement” by Dr. Shawn Ginwright
by Candice Valenzuela, MA — Psychology, YT — 200
“The only way to bear the overwhelming pain of oppression is by telling, in all its detail, in the presence of witnesses and in a context of resistance, how unbearable it is. If we attempt to craft resistance without understanding this task, we are collectively vulnerable to all the errors of judgement that unresolved trauma generates in individuals. It is part of our task as revolutionary people, people who want deep-rooted, radical change, to be as whole as it is possible for us to be. This can only be done if we face the reality of what oppression really means in our lives, not as abstract systems subject to analysis, but as an avalanche of traumas leaving a wake of devastation in the lives of real people who nevertheless remain human, unquenchable, complex and full of possibility.”
- Aurora Levins Morales (a revolution that can heal our wounds, 2013)
At a recent talk I gave to teachers connecting historical trauma to the Covid crisis in BIPOC communities, a participant asked me how to push back on trauma-informed education in her school, while referencing Dr. Ginwright’s healing engagement article. Others on the call chimed in to decry trauma informed pedagogy as misguided. As a proponent of culturally sensitive, trauma informed systems care for over a decade, this audience response both baffled and concerned me. As a result, I took time to sit with my feelings and reread Dr. Ginwright’s influential article carefully. I had so many strong emotional responses as a trauma informed educator, a community mental health provider, and a survivor of complex personal and societal traumas that I decided to put it in writing. I hope this provides helpful context and resources for those interested in deepening their analysis of the issues surrounding the implementation of Trauma Informed Care in schools, and Dr. Ginwright’s proposed alternative, Healing Centered Engagement. The purpose of this piece is promoting dialogue and liberatory practices with ourselves and the youth we serve.
I wholeheartedly believe that we must NOT push back against trauma informed care in education, rather we must demand more trauma informed pedagogy, higher…