In March 2009, I spent two weeks as part of a USA-based team of six, training helping professionals in a brief trauma-stabilization model. Trauma Resource Institute's educational model is physiology-based, modeled on Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing -- an approach I have studied and incorporated into my own practice since 2000.
In the TRI model, stabilization skills are presented in a condensed format, accessible across cultures. Throughout the 1-, 2-, and 3-day trainings, I witnessed training participants practicing skills they could use immediately --- for themselves as well as in their work as physicians, nurses, psych counselors, hotline volunteers, teachers. The six of us from the USA team relied on our translators -- brilliant young psych students from Beijing -- but the enthusiasm we felt from many of the participants transcended language.
This multi-phase project to help Sichuan province was initiated at the request of Rob Blinn, a psychologist in Beijing who had met Peter Levine just months prior to the earthquake. World Health Organization has funded much of the project, which concludes with phase 6 in May 2009, when TRI returns with another team, to consult, train, and make new contacts in Sichuan province.
Our travel to different training locations over the two weeks brought us past many damaged structures: Next door to the empty psych hospital, residents make do in blue-roofed temporary housing erected by the government. Along a dirt road, makeshift shelters of branches and plastic are abandoned for newly built concrete houses. With piles of new bricks and bags of cement, some families are still in the process of re-building their homes by hand. As our bus passed through the misty landscape of terraced fields bursting with vibrant yellow flowers, we acknowledged in silence the pain amid the beauty, the scenes of loss, the hard life that, for so many, pre-dates this earthquake.
The community-based re-building we witnessed in the countryside also reminded us that resilience is fostered through cooperation. Though this training project draws to a close, it has planted seeds that may germinate and grow. As phase 6 of the project coincides with the quake anniversary, this group will be seeking ways to continue its outreach for people in need.