GSN launched its first impact report “Growing Connection, Resiliency and Agency: The impact of community-led trauma-informed peacebuilding in response to violent extremism in Kenya” at the second annual Paris Peace Forum (12 November 2019).

Trauma-Informed Peacebuilding

Trauma-Informed Peacebuilding

Green String Network developed the trauma-informed peacebuilding approach drawing on the fields of neurobiology, psychology, restorative justice, conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and spirituality. Chronic violence is complex, long-term violence driving everyone affected into the “grey zone” moving away from the dualistic “black and white” views — of “perpetrators” vx. victims and criminals vs. innocent citizens” (T. Adams, 2017 p. xvi).The approach expands practices related to human security, social work, community development, governance and shows the importance of integrating these concepts into both the personal and community practice.

Historical Injustices

Historical Injustices

The approach examines how historical injustices and their present manifestations through the lens of trauma and identifies the mechanisms for the transmission of historical trauma: legacies and aftermaths. These are the beliefs and structures responsible for transmitting trauma responses and circumstances between generations. Dr. Christina Bethell notes,  “we are a society organized based on trauma, so we need to go from being trauma-organized to being trauma-informed and then eventually, healing centered.” 

Tani Adams (2017) explains “[c]hronic violence is complex, long-term violence driving everyone affected into the “grey zone” moving away from the dualistic “black-or-white” views — of “perpetrators vs. victims” and “criminals vs. innocent citizens.”  Given the high level of reoccurring, protracted, and chronic violence globally the development of a trauma-informed peacebuilding approach towards dealing with the violence offers an opportunity for service providers and leaders to begin to working together to holistically address the larger issue of violence and its impact.

Trauma Informed Approaches

Trauma-informed approaches include policies and practices recognizing the connections between violence, trauma, negative health outcomes and negative social behaviors. These approaches increase safety, control and resilience for people who are seeking services (i.e. social services, security, livelihoods, education) in relation to experiences of violence and/or have a history of experiencing violence.

Trauma-informed approaches require fundamental changes in how systems are designed, organizations function and practitioners engage with people. Trauma- informed social transformation is a lens used to address chronic violence which impacts individuals, communities, systems, and structures. The approach recognizes systems and structures should be supportive of recovery are often greatly damaged by conflict, and therefore often cannot provide the needed support to aid in the rebuilding process.

Wellbeing & Resilience: A trauma-informed peacebuilding approach programming includes:

  • Understanding the physiological, emotional, cognitive, behavioral and spiritual impact of traumatic events (current or historic) on recipient populations, and how unaddressed trauma contributes to cycles of violence;
  • Going beyond traditional mental health diagnosis and symptoms of Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder as the measure of trauma impact, and also recognizing community and societal dynamics and behaviors are indicators of unaddressed trauma;
  • Identifying processes from multiple fields—human and economic security, conflict transformation, restorative justice, neurobiology, psychology and spirituality—which can address the effects of trauma and increase resilience; and
  • Recognizing that addressing the psychological needs of populations creates the need to monitor staff for secondary trauma and to equip them with self-care skills.

GSN’s fundamental approach creates safe spaces which foster real dialogue within fragmented communities. The approach confronts the past and injustices in safe and empowering settings increasing both self and collective awareness and resilience.