My name is Taylor Mache, and I am thrilled to be interning at ICTG. I am currently a third year psychology major at Westmont College who is also studying Spanish and global studies. I have always had a passion for deep relationships and understanding our creation as relational beings, which eventually sparked my interest in psychology. I wanted to better understand the ways we interact with others, digging into the why and how we behave and think the way we do. As I processed my own relationships, I paused on my relationship with my dad. My dad and I have always had a very natural connection, one where there was a mutual trust and understanding that couldn’t exactly be explained. I have always admired my father for the ways he intentionally strived to have deeper relationships with my brothers and me, especially without having an example of a good earthly father himself. As a Christian, I see how he shaped the way I understood the love of our Heavenly Father which is infinite and whole, in that if my earthly father pursued me and loved me this much, then how much more my Heavenly Father must love and pursue me. It broke my heart to think that children can go without having an earthly example of unconditional love in their lives. Out of this experience my desire to be a marriage and family therapist was born. I hope, ultimately, to gain skills to facilitate environments where couples can learn how to mend bonds where they are strained or broken, or create bonds where they do not currently exist.
Trauma often can disrupt, or even break, relational bonds. I am curious to explore how these experiences affect the ways survivors of trauma interact with those they love, and discover more about how collective trauma can bring people together or create even more distance. I am particularly interested in how our faith and spirituality influence trauma recovery, and how spiritual guidance can be integrated into treatment processes. The focus of my research this semester will involve developing more extensive resources in spiritual formation counseling, specifically in providing tools and tips for college students interested in pursuing work in spiritual guidance with persons affected by trauma and disaster. Through research of various sources, including current ICTG materials, peer-reviewed literature, and biblical sources, as well as interviews of spiritual directors, I will curate current understandings of trauma-informed spiritual direction and young adult development in order to devise a tip sheet for college students to access online.
I am interested in exploring the ways religion and culture intertwine and overlap to influence trauma response. I hope to integrate trauma-informed spiritual formation and direction resources into my final project that are culturally aware and appropriate for Christian college students. The ways we interact with others and form connections depends largely on our cultural context, including our spiritual background. College students, developmentally, may find themselves naturally at a stage of testing and reconsidering their cultural and spiritual backgrounds, perhaps for the first time. If they happen to encounter traumatic experiences, or are reflecting on traumatic experiences from the past, a spiritual director who is informed on how trauma can affect a person’s development and spiritual formation will provide more helpful facilitation. A person’s responses to trauma can vary greatly based on her or his culturally-influenced spiritual experiences. Therefore, caring for a survivor impacted by trauma, particularly when providing spiritual direction for them, requires a deep understanding of these differences, in order to help in ways that respect and honor the individual, rather than in the ways that hinder healing and restoration. Having awareness of varying cultures, the range of spiritual practices and understandings a survivor may have, and implicit biases on the part of the spiritual director can greatly enhance the way treatment is administered. I am looking forward to exploring these important points in the coming weeks and developing helpful tips for working with college students who have experienced trauma.
Taylor is a third year student at Westmont College studying psychology, Spanish, and global studies. She is passionate about our creation as relational beings and learning about how trauma can affect relationships, especially in different cultural experiences. She is also interested in the role that faith plays in recovery and understanding trauma and disaster. A Chicago native, she loves spending as much time as she can in nature and tuning in to the wonders of creation, whether hiking in the mountains or going for an ocean swim.
I first began learning about trauma during winter break after my first semester of college. My father had gifted me The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. I read the stories of ordinary individuals who had experienced unspeakable horror and pain, who felt suffering not only in their minds, but in their brains and bodies, too. I came across the life's work of a man who sought to heal the whole individual and shared his own journey of pain, healing, and discovery. I learned about the mechanisms of trauma, the development of DSM diagnoses, and the healing power of EMDR. However, what I remember most about reading this book was the deep, but quiet voice that arose in me and said, "this work--work that considers the whole being and offers agency and healing--is something I want to do, too!" Though now I can't remember if my interest in trauma preceded the reading of this book, I do know that the stories and knowledge I encountered transformed my understanding of the body, mind, and brain, propelled me into a psychology major, and informed my vocational goals and desires.
Reading that book brought me here to the Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth. I first uncovered my interests in trauma and the human capacity to grow and heal in the pages of a book; yet, I envision that my interests will come alive and take shape during this internship. Though I have come with specific questions, I am hopeful that this experience will sharpen them and even bring forth new ones. While I am interested in certain areas of trauma scholarship, I anticipate discovering fresh areas of pursuit within the field. Through my experiences as an intern, I hope to deepen my understanding of trauma and bear witness to the resilience of communities and individuals.
The questions I seek to answer include: How do communities show long-term effects of collective traumas? How do recollections of the trauma get passed down through generations and retold by individuals and in groups? How do traumatic experiences impact the learning environments of children? What are the most effective community models of post-traumatic healing?
How do recollections of the trauma get passed down through generations and retold by individuals and in groups? How do traumatic experiences impact the learning environments of children? What are the most effective community models of post-traumatic healing?
I pursued this internship because I saw the opportunity to develop and deepen my interests in trauma and post-traumatic growth through the Institute. I also sought out this internship because I believe that it will help me define and clarify my vocational goals. I see this as an opportunity to try on a new role and see how it fits, to feel how it feels to work in traumatized communities, foster resilience and healing, and engage in trauma-informed work. What do I like about working in communities that have experienced trauma? What is challenging about working in these communities? Is this work life-giving to me? By engaging in this internship, I imagine that all of these questions--and even ones I haven’t known to ask yet--will be answered. Throughout the internship, I expect to experience both failure and affirmation in my giftings. I desire to witness the difficulty that comes with working alongside traumatized people, but also the joy and hope that ensues when individuals and communities are able to grow and heal. I am hopeful that this internship will confirm that quiet voice I heard years ago that said, “this is something I want to do.” And even if this experience does not confirm that little voice, I am hopeful that through this internship I will be able to further discern my calling and role in the Kingdom of God.
Chloe is currently a fourth year student at Westmont College, earning a B.S. in Psychology-Behavioral Neuroscience. She enjoys learning about how resilience and connectedness impact experiences of trauma. Chloe brings her experiences living in Costa Rica and Scotland and studying abroad in Israel-Palestine to her studies and work.
From 2012-2020, this blog space explored the changing landscape of long-term care. This website serves as a historical mark of work the Institute conducted prior to 2022. This website is no longer updated.