A recent article on the international ACES Connection online community highlighted the importance of focusing on people's strengths and competencies, rather than shortcomings and deficiencies.
Author of the article, Dana Brown, writes, "This over-focus, while not characterizing all policies and programs, is still too common, nevertheless. It has shaped research as well as social programs. During service delivery, collection of the adverse details about people's lives is often necessary but it is not sufficient.
A focus on individuals' strengths and competencies is essential."
While unaddressed trauma can increase the risk of numerous physical and mental health impacts, as well as risk-taking behavior and criminal justice system involvement, the GOOD news is that RESILIENCE can help reduce those impacts and allow for healing.
This is where a focus on strengths and competencies can really be beneficial for returning citizens. Here's what the research shows about what people need to heal from trauma and develop resilience:
* Feeling empowered, to counteract traumatic experiences where all control was taken away from you
* Feeling validated: needing others to listen to you, to validate the importance of what happened to you, to believe you, to understand
* Feeling connected with others in positive, supportive, meaningful relationships
* Feeling a sense of hope that things can get better, that you can and will feel better
* Feeling that your life has meaning and purpose
* Being able to trust other people again
The RMO, through our programs and services, attempts to offer these things to returning citizens, so that they can not only dream of, but pursue, with hope and confidence, a future that is better than their past.
Because, as one of our heroes in this work, Bryan Stevenson, says, "Each of us is MORE than the worst thing we've ever done."