#345 – Trauma Stewardship with Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

family portraiture

Laura van Dernoot Lipsky MSW, founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute and author of Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others, has worked directly with trauma survivors for 25 years.

At age 18, she regularly spent nights volunteering in a homeless shelter. From there, she went on to work with survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, acute trauma, and natural disasters. Simultaneously, she has been active in community organizing and movements for social and environmental justice and has taught on issues surrounding systematic oppression and liberation theory.

Over a decade ago Laura experienced what she calls a near-psychotic break. It was the result of years of witnessing and being intimately involved in trauma without tending to herself in the necessary ways. After that, she began a journey of inquiry into the lasting effects on individuals and groups of exposure to the suffering, hardship, crisis, or trauma experienced by humans, other living beings, or the planet itself. She offered her first version of a workshop on trauma stewardship to a group of public health workers in 1999. Since then, she has trained a wide variety of people, including zookeepers and reconstruction workers in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, community organizers and health care providers in Japan, U.S. Air Force pilots, Canadian firefighters, public school teachers, and private practice doctors. She has worked locally, nationally, and internationally. Laura is known as a pioneer in the field of trauma exposure.

Recently, Laura turned her attention to the effects of trauma exposure on those doing frontline work in environmental and conservation movements throughout the world. She was among the first to talk publicly about the profound price that the witnessing of mass extinctions and the potentially irreversible ecological losses caused by global warming and other forms of human encroachment is exacting from the organizations and individuals who are attempting to save our planet.

A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

copyright 2013: David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

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One Comment

  1. Dr. Michael Ocana
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Great interview. Very inspiring… All of us compulsive caretakers should, of course, listen up. This is something we all have to wrestle with! Also, I had to LOL when you plugged my podcast (thank you). The name TeenShrinkTalk may lead to the conclusion that it is for teens… but in reality it’s more aimed at those fascinated by developmental neuroscience and relational neuroscience…. (not sure many teens are) but that would be a lot less catchy of a title for a blog… Mind you, I promise some more content on the neuroscience of adolescence in the near future! Thanks again for the plug Dr. Dave!!

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