Community Connection & Healing

By Epione

“Often it isn’t the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after.” S. Kelley Harrell          

Wraparound community connection offers meaningful, creative ways to support people with healing from trauma. This is a message of togetherness as it will take all of us to build a trauma informed and responsive Scotland. As practitioners, our first step is to promote safety and stability and the power of the community to support this can never be underestimated. As Janina Fisher, PhD states, ” A trauma survivor can have a meaningful, productive life without ever remembering or processing the trauma, but they cannot have such a life without the work of safety and stability”.

As trauma informed and responsive practitioners, we want to help the people we work with. Traditional therapy may not be immediately available, or perhaps isn’t having the desired outcome. It may not be the right choice or need for some people. “The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, is therefore based upon the empowerment of the person/ survivor and the creation of new connections.” Judith Herman, M.D.

Connection, intervention, and support for trauma that comes from community wraparound can do just that; empower and reconnect people. It comes in many forms, some may surprise you. Like Equine Therapy where people learn to ride and care for a horse. The animal-human bond brings about healing through connection and a sense of safety of non-judgement from the animal.  There is also Animal Assisted Therapy, and even Assistance Dogs for PTSD. Connecting canine friends can provide a feeling of security and companionship. Unconditional love! Animals have a long history of being part of interventions and have shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD.

There’s more than one answer

Traditional therapy clearly has its place in trauma recovery but doesn’t have to be the only answer. Let’s look at the person as a whole and intentionally find ways for them to connect. As Roberto Assagioli, the founder of Psychosynthesis, says, “[we are] interested in the whole building. We try to build an elevator which will allow a person access to every level of his personality”. Community wraparound interventions can be that elevator.

As you support people with complex lives, the wraparound interventions and connection you provide may be in the form of necessary, practical help. Perhaps it’s housing or help for a long-term health condition. It may be substance recovery or help with benefits. As a practitioner, showing up and doing what we say we will do to offer support can nurture trust between yourself and the person. However, sensitively finding out what really matters to people is how they can begin to regain parts of their true selves, to find true meaning in their lives. Helping people to learn new skills, for example, can promote healing and self-advocacy and in the face of complexity, as trauma often can be, the intervention could be beautifully simple. As simple as learning to swim, learning to ride a bike, learning to sew. For someone who never learned these as a child due to neglect or lack of provision, they can mean so much to that person. Simple, but so powerful.

Creativity that heals

Trauma, when it isn’t processed, can become trapped in the body. The nervous system is overwhelmed and becomes dysregulated. The traumatic event stops becoming a memory and so is experienced in the present, instead of the person’s past. Emotions cannot be regulated; self-calming cannot take place and help is needed. There is a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of other, less traditional approaches to treating trauma. You may already be familiar with Art Therapy. Creative, expressive activities can also involve Music Therapy, Drama Therapy, singing and dance. Approaches can be body and movement based. They can offer opportunities to express feelings without the use of words. If words are needed, there is creative writing and journaling. They support a bottom-up approach which engages the whole brain and not only cognitions. There is a neuroscience of creativity showing us the impact of stress and extreme conditions on reducing creativity. Healing from trauma can be so challenging, creative approaches can bring new, refreshing opportunities as resilience-building opportunities. When conflicting parts of ourselves fight for a voice and lead to self-sabotage, creative approaches can step in. They can be powerful in addressing and resolving these conflicts by creating space for expression, placing the person not the trauma, at the centre. They help synthesise these conflicting parts towards a whole self where the person can learn how to self-calm and regulate their emotions. They start living again, not just healing.

Shake it off

To complement talking therapies, some somatic approaches support the release of trauma by focusing on the body, such as dancing. This can ‘shake off’ the adrenalin in the body, increase dopamine levels and allow people to feel more grounded. One way of doing this is through “patterned, repetitive, rhythmic somatosensory activity” (Dr.Bruce Perry, MD) like tapping, butterfly hugs and wide range of body orientated movements. Other body-focused techniques when applied in a trauma sensitive manner ensuring choice and control can include yoga, meditation and breathwork to name a few. While working with the mind and body simultaneously, it supports people during the somatic experience of being ‘back in their bodies’. They can learn to tolerate and regulate bodily sensations, reducing symptoms of trauma. Similar to dance, it can facilitate the release of trauma from the body. And the evidence base for this is growing.


When considering complementary or alternative interventions, a sense of belonging and human connection can help people along their healing journey. Being part of a group or spending time with like-minded people can be nurtured through community orientated approaches. Mutual aid groups and lived experience groups that foster a social support network, and which are trauma informed. Also, consider mindfulness sessions, walking groups, outdoor activities, football, and many other sports.

Benefits for all

As Practitioners we aim to use approaches that are evidenced-based, but it is also important to ask the individual or group what they want and what they think will help them to feel whole again. More and more options are becoming available that are trauma informed. You can’t take their journey for them, but you can walk by their side, and you can find out what works best for them along the way. It also allows you, as a practitioner, to explore new ways of working and find satisfaction in seeing others begin to recover and regain their true selves.

Building wraparound

If this blog speaks to you and interested in creating the optimal space to facilitate community connection & healing for the people you serve, why not join us in 13th & 14th June 2023 for our enhanced trauma training course. Here you will learn about the neuroscience of trauma, developing an array of trauma responsive approaches to support emotional regulation, safety, stability and much more.

Or check out our full course catalogue to find something that meets your needs.

Team Epione

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