Model creates space for trauma discussion

By Anina Kazaz ,

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Village members from Saleapaga and Sapo’e listening to the trainers of the trauma workshop and sharing their experiences. Photo Anina Kazaz

Village members from Saleapaga and Sapo’e listening to the trainers of the trauma workshop and sharing their experiences. Photo Anina Kazaz

The Community Resiliency Model (C.R.M.) can create space for discussion and enable individuals and families to talk about their struggles.

Talolo Tua Lepale, the director for field education in the Department of Social Work and Social Ecology at the Loma Linda University in California, U.S.A., said this recently in an interview with the Samoa Observer following the graduation of local trainers in trauma counselling.

“One of the beautiful things about this particular model is that it is biology based which allows in a community to learn these skills. They can work them into their own lives and from there teach each other in their own ways adapting to their culture,” he said.

“The process of doing that strengthen the families, which here in Samoa is one of the most important things and the Coeur of the culture. Then the community is strengthened and so our country is.”

He said challenges like financial woes, alcohol, diabetes, cancer, heart problems and natural disasters like tsunami can make life difficult for Samoan families, but using the C.R.M. families can know how to handle such situations. 

“I have seen so many individuals and families who become fractured because of the breakdown in communication. C.R.M. allows creating a space where it is safe to talk about the struggles. These are skills that anybody can learn.”

A key feature of the model, according to Talolo, is its focus on understanding the nervous system and its connection to traumatized physiological experiences, one’s own body and brain and the ability of the individual to regulate and manage their emotions to enable problem solving. 

The recent four-day workshop was run by the American university and supported by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (A.D.R.A.) targeted local trainers and and was held in the villages of Saleapaga and Sapo’e. 

Talolo is hopeful a new research project – with in partnership with local agencies – will lead to the development of assessment tools and treatment approaches for mental health in Samoa and over the long-term expand to other parts of the Pacific region. 

The C.R.M. is widely used in the U.S. and is taught to teachers, medical professionals, emergency workers and counsellors and is practiced in 50 countries around the world. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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