Dr. Gilpin-Jackson writes in a way that rings true and illuminates the experience of individual and collective trauma. Through the concept of resonance, she provides a path toward healing and transformation for individuals, groups, and entire organizations. As an OD practitioner, I appreciate the way she clearly lays out the path for leading organizations on the journey to resonance and healing. This book is well-researched while remaining practical and accessible. I highly recommend it for anyone, layperson or practitioner, who wants a deeper understanding of the posttraumatic growth process.

Amazon Review- Colleen Kindelin Steele

Now available on Amazon

In my book, Transformation After Trauma: The Power of Resonance, I write about a Trauma-Informed Development Pathway. I did not set out to articulate one, but it emerged in the process of collating and putting together the pieces of the puzzle from my research and practice in Resonance and posttraumatic growth. In writing about the power of our own deeply personal life stories to shift us from trauma through a journey to resilience and transformation, I realized that I was describing a developmental trajectory infused with an understanding of trauma as an inherent and somewhat inevitable part of life. The potential for transformation after trauma is well captured in the words of Viktor E. Frankl who understood the journey well as a survivor of the Jewish concentration camps.

We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change a situation—just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer—we are challenged to change ourselves.[i]

And so, while we work for social systems change, we must also be aware of the individual developmental journeys available to us in these traumatic times. The Pathway frames trauma-informed development stages with their associated narratives, worldview, practices and the possible shadow and light of each stage as well.

For example, at the outset, we may be happy in our socialized selves, in the world as we know it before a traumatic event occurs. Then a traumatic event occurs, forcing us to consider the assumptions we may have taken for granted, especially about our identity and place in the world. For example, for many of us, 2020 represented the trauma of being faced with the harms of social inequities, both in terms of the impact of COVID-19 on socially marginalized and vulnerable populations and in terms of increased systemic racism. This has forced many experiencing the traumatic impacts of these issues to consider the questions: Who do I choose to be in the world? What is my role in addressing systemic racism?

Persistent trauma or unchanging circumstances may push us to the next stage of development, where we locate our differentiated self within society in a way that is clearly separated from our socialized selves. In other words, once we differentiate from our socialized self, we can then choose our place of contribution to society and set about living and acting in that way. Because trauma is an inherent part of the human condition, events may still happen that will cause us to question our worldview and assumptions. We can continually move through the trauma and disappointments of such events in three ways: moving backward in our psychological response due to traumatic stress, holding steady (resilience) and/or developing forward to the ultimate stage of self-in-transcendence where our worldview is a planetary one.

This pathway is holarchical, meaning that each stage of development is embedded within subsequent ones—think Russian nesting doll. Progression may be compounded, such that a person may experience one or more stages at the same time as a result of a seismic or ongoing trauma that requires continuous meaning-making.

This pathway offers a framework to understand our developmental potential as we develop through traumatic times. I hope you find this trauma-informed development model useful as you consider:

  • What are the social assumptions that you have
    taken for granted that no longer serve me?
  • Who do you want to be in the world?
  • What might your contribution to a better society be?
  • What lasting legacy do you want to have (for
    generations, the planet etc.)?

[i] See p.112 of: Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. Boston,MA: Beacon Press.