About Carolyn and PeaceAfterTrauma

Carolyn Yoder photo

Welcome! I’m Carolyn Yoder, and this is the story behind PeaceAfterTrauma.

I’m an international trauma and resilience trainer and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). I specialize in helping individuals and communities who’ve experienced trauma find ways to move toward healing and peace.

If you’re visiting this page, it’s likely that trauma has affected you, your family or your community. Or you may be with an organization that works with trauma impacted populations.  To understand how this website and the resources within it can help you, you might find it useful to know how I came to create it.

Originally, I was an international educator and counselor. I’ve spent nearly three decades living and working around the world, including:

  • Asia (Nepal and Bangladesh),
  • The Middle East (Egypt and Jordan),
  • Africa (Kenya and Swaziland),
  • The Caucasus (Armenia) and
  • At home in the United States.

In addition, I’ve done short-term work in a number of other countries. In my private counseling practice, I developed expertise in working with people who were dealing with traumatic events. The effects of this trauma included PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other reactions common in the face of difficult circumstances.

The work was challenging and heart-breaking at times. But it was also immensely rewarding.

There was only one problem.

The issue? I kept running into questions I couldn’t answer.

I could help the people who came for one-on-one sessions in my safe, quiet consulting room. But the world outside was full of survivors of – or people still experiencing – torture, trafficking, war, occupation, natural disasters and the generational effects of historical trauma.

I couldn’t ignore their existence. And I couldn’t ignore the questions that acknowledging their presence brought up for me:

  • How many psychologists would it take to treat entire communities – or countries – that were impacted by horrific events?  Did people even need a psychologist?
  • What lasting good could focusing on a person’s symptom (such as insomnia or rage) do if its underlying roots (poverty or structural violence) weren’t also addressed?
  • If an entire community lived under constant threat, wouldn’t hyper-arousal or withdrawal be natural responses rather than signs of a “mental disorder”?
  • What role did trauma play in the cycles of violence at personal or national levels I kept seeing or reading about? Would addressing the resulting trauma and the underlying causes contribute to building a more secure and peaceful world?

I started looking for answers in the literature about trauma, trying to understand its effects on communities and individuals, and searching for tools to work with it.

Then, 9/11 created an opportunity to put what I was finding into practice–and learn more.

After the 9/11 attacks, I became the director of a multi-disciplinary team at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. Our mandate was to develop a training program for community leaders in the US and internationally who were affected by the 9/11 attacks and the considerable aftereffects.

Now my questions went beyond how a therapist could work with trauma-impacted communities. They expanded to consider which information, skills and tools would be most helpful and safe for community leaders – educators, medical personnel, clergy, mental health professionals, parents, human rights workers, government officials, development and humanitarian NGO workers – to use themselves, and to help others understand and address trauma and the ensuring cycles of violence. They included questions about what processes supported trauma healing in communities over the long term.

The Little Book of Trauma Healing, by Carolyn YoderThe training program our team created is called STAR: Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience, an approach to addressing individual and community trauma and the ensuring spirals of violence. We adapted and created frameworks drawing on neuroscience, psychology, restorative justice, conflict transformation, human security, and spirituality. We revised and reshaped the content based on the feedback of hundreds of resilient workshop participants from around the world with deep knowledge of their communities and traditions.

Since 2002, hundreds of STAR trainings have supported thousands of people and communities from five continents to become trauma-informed and stop cycles of violence. The framework and resources you’ll find on this website are based on what we learned in those STAR trainings.

There’s much we can learn from each other about addressing trauma in our world.

PeaceAfterTrauma is also a site for you to contribute what you have learned about trauma and healing in your own work. Click here to tell us your experience, leave a comment, or ask a question.

Because only as we share the lessons learned and work together can we heal the effects of trauma and build a more peaceful world.

Want to learn more about addressing trauma?
Fill out the form below to:
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