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Eight Books to Add to Your Trauma-Informed Library

As violence prevention educators, we know how important it is to understand trauma.

Here are eight books, recommended by members of an international community of violence prevention educators, to help us become more trauma-informed.

1. “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing,” by Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey

In this collaborative work, Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey reframe age-old views on trauma by advocating for the question “What happened to you?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?”

“Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies ... In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”

Dr. Bessel von der Kolk explores how trauma reshapes the body and the brain, and proposes new treatments that provide hope for recovery.

Judith Lewis Herman delves into the similarities between psychological trauma, which can come from personal experience such as child abuse, and public experience such as war, and how they can help in understanding the process of healing.

4. “How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self,” by Dr. Nicole LePera

“I discovered that our genes are not destiny and that in order to change, we have to become consciously aware of our habits and thought patterns, which have been shaped by the people we care for most.”

Trauma in childhood can lead to destructive behaviors and cause high stress and unhappiness. Dr. Nicole empowers survivors with the tools needed for positive change.

Through powerful stories of resilience, veteran and researcher Elizabeth Stanley explains how the brain responds to stress and trauma, and provides strategies to help survivors in their healing process.

6. “Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others,” by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk

Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk describe the difficult challenges that caregivers face, and suggest practices that can help provide energy and renewal.

This autobiographical account of a psychiatric nurse turned “curandera” describes the work of Elena Avila and illustrates the many ways folk medicine can provide healing.

“A part is not just a temporary emotional state or habitual thought pattern. Instead, it is a discrete and autonomous mental system that has an idiosyncratic range of emotion, style of expression, set of abilities, desires, and view of the world. In other words, it is as if we each contain a society of people, each of whom is at a different age and has different interests, talents, and temperaments.”

We are thought to have a single identity, but according to Richard Swartz, our identity is composed of sub-minds or parts. Loving our parts can help heal the world.

* What books are in your trauma-informed library?

How have they helped you in your work with trauma survivors? *



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