Counselor-facilitated community consciousness-raising & creative multimedia collaborations for collective healing
To counter the harmful effects of silence and forgetting on those who share a traumatic history, counselors can co-create and participate in community circles of self-reflection and healing and foster a culture of validation through historical memory.
Recent and current models we can look to for guidance and inspiration for local, regional, and national projects:
This racial justice study and action group for white women based in Oakland, California, was co-founded and is co-led by former professor of history, Lois Helmbold, Ph.D. and Rochelle Towers, MSW. Using a combination of historical readings along with self-confidence and leadership skills, Helmbold describes a dynamic and robust 5 month process that educates and inspires participants to find ways they can contribute to the cause of racial justice. In our interview, Lois commented that a large number of members are therapists and counselors. I see this as a possible template for counselors with understanding of our national psycho-history to train other white counselors in this knowledge and facilitate self-reflection and culturally competent skills. Some specific readings this group has used are found in the healing and historical memory resource list.
A "racial autobiography" is one assignment that the group completes, which Lois values for helping to get members to "situate themselves in a historical context" and "'think critically" about where they are situated, through answering questions such as: "What's your family's history? What did you learn about race growing up? How did you learn to see yourself as non-raced? When did you start seeing yourself as having a race? How did your family acknowledge race or not acknowledge race? Who were the immigrants [in the family]?"
Make Yourself Useful (MYU)
Based in Chicago, with extended virtual membership, this is another study and action white solidarity racial justice group. The organizers create a syllabus of historical, sociological, and cultural readings and videos, select a racial justice agency or organization as beneficiary of member donations on a quarterly basis, and maintain a Joyful Giving Inventory of pro bono goods and services MYU members want to offer to local activists of color.
Healing through Remembering
A collaborative initiative in Northern Ireland that engages in "truth recovery and acknowledgment" through storytelling, oral history, public art, exhibition, and a Day of Reflection.
Still Present Pasts: Korean Americans and "the Forgotten War"
From their website, "Rarely are personal life stories, art, film, spoken word, and history combined in public exhibition. STILL PRESENT PASTS: Korean Americans and the "Forgotten War" is an exception. It weaves these elements into a multi-media, interactive experience that lifts the silence shrouding the Korean War, a pivotal event in Korean, United States, and Korean American history."
"For Korean American survivors and their children, the Korean War remains a source of shared, if not publicly expressed, pain and division...The creators of STILL PRESENT PASTS share the belief that a public space of memory and dialogue about the Korean War can challenge these multiple layers of silencing as a means to promote healing, reconciliation, and advocacy for peace."
I invite and encourage counselors to build relationships in their communities and collaborate with a broad spectrum of professionals and citizens to develop installations and multi-media performance involving art, film, archival footage, oral histories and to facilitate trauma-sensitive dialogue or movement at these events.
pictured, Healing Through Remembering project in Northern Ireland