Over the years of our practice we have identified critical components of successful consultation with traumatized systems. We believe effectiveness in helping organizations to heal from trauma is rooted in:

  • Embracing love as motivation and value in consultation practice

  • Understanding the dynamics of sudden and cumulative trauma and their effects on organizations

  • Utilizing organization development practices customized for traumatized systems

  • Cultivating joy and sustainability as a practitioner

We believe that love, acceptance, and forgiveness enable organizations to move forward and heal. Offering ourselves as companions on a healing journey is an act of love. We join organizations on their path of discovery and addressing their trauma. We add our optimism and energy to the organization’s own resources. We help contain organizational grief, shame, and guilt and rekindle members’ hope and confidence to move forward.

Consultants help identify kinds of trauma experienced by teams or organizations, whether the trauma is a single devastating event, a long-standing unaddressed trauma, or a more complex intersection of sudden trauma’s immediate aftermath, historical unhealed trauma, and insidious impacts of cumulative trauma. When practitioners share these ideas with organizational leaders and members, those in traumatized systems begin to make sense of their experience and gain constructive ways of thinking about organizational dynamics.

Utilizing understanding of individual trauma, organizational culture, the work-culture connection, trauma-informed practice, and principles of organizational change consultants can offer wise counsel and practical ideas, help organizational leaders navigate the layers of harm, find organizational strengths, and persist in healing efforts. Consultants can also assist leaders in addressing worries about persistent unhealthy organizational dynamics and the risks of unaddressed trauma. They can also help leaders understand their organizations’ strengths and shadows and utilize their insights to bolster resilience.

In order to act with love and compassion as well as bringing a strong conceptual foundation to situations of trauma, consultants need to cultivate their own health and sustainability. For us that means making sure we nurture joy, compassion, and loving relationships in our lives. We also recognize the power of a community of practice. We regularly meet with like-minded colleagues to share ideas, advance our understanding of the dynamics of organizational trauma, ask for and offer counsel, and support each other’s emotional health and capacity to offer compassionate healing.

Praise for Pat and Shana’s book

“Organizational Trauma and Healing is a straightforward and worthwhile read for any non-profit leader who seeks to better understand the complex, nuanced and, sometimes, predictable patterns of organizational behavior and culture. Anyone who works in a non-profit setting — with all of its challenges and enormously deep rewards — will connect with the lessons learned by the authors. This book confirmed my belief that organizations, as well as the individuals within them, need our compassion. While it illuminates struggle, it also offers the insight and hope that every non-profit deserves.”

— Nan Stoops, past Executive Director, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

“This book is a real contribution in an important area that has received far too little attention from scholars, consultants and leaders alike: the trauma that organizations can experience in the face of painful episodes or cumulative difficulties that affect systems members collectively. Too often, such trauma remains undiagnosed, even as it causes burnout, conflict, poor client service, and other symptoms of troubled organizations. This book will prove an invaluable resource for leaders and consultants who care deeply about the cultures, wellness, and resilience of the systems for which they are responsible.”

— William A. Kahn, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Behavior, Boston University Questrom School of Business; author, Holding Fast: the struggle to create resilient caregiving organizations

“Organizational Trauma and Healing is required reading in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Social Work Department's practice class. The book has generated creative and critical thinking about how the culture of an organization is shaped and the practitioner’s role in creating healthier and supportive workplace relationships.”

— LaVerne M. Demientieff, Ph.D., LMSW, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Alaska-Fairbanks