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The need for a trauma informed ministry

Rev. Frederick Streets, DSW, LCSW. Photo courtesy of Yale Divinity School.

Rev. Frederick Streets, DSW, LCSW. Photo courtesy of Yale Divinity School.

National Association of Social Workers member Frederick Streets is a senior pastor at Dixwell Congregational United Church of Christ in New Haven, Conn.

Streets, DSW, LCSW, has worked with people in his congregation who have been victims of violence and other traumatic incidents that have shattered their mental well being.

That is why he recently wrote this column in the New Haven Register that stresses the need for people involved in religious ministries to understand and be able to help parishioners overcome trauma, which can lead to depression, anger, and a loss of optimism.

“It is important to remember that a trauma informed ministry understands how vulnerable people are who have been traumatized and that their sense of safety can be triggered by any number of things,” Streets wrote. “Most importantly, those who have been traumatized need to be encouraged and supported in being hopeful about their own recovery from having been traumatized.”

Traumatic events can  lead some people to doubt their faith while others draw strength from their religious experiences, Streets said. So people  involved in the ministry should be mindful of how a person’s religious background can help or hinder their recovery from trauma, he said.

“Their trauma can affect their identity, their views and belief about God and their ideas of fairness and justice,” he said.

Social workers such as Frederick Streeter help clients overcome mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Mind and Spirit website.

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