Strategies for building awareness for the potential of peace education in Cameroon Ben Oru Mforndip
Special Report
Has Democracy Enhanced Development in Africa? Conrad John Masabo
Permanent Emergency Powers in France: The ‘Law to Strengthen Internal Security and the Fight Against Terrorism’ and the Protection of Human Rights Lena Muhs
Women’s Political Representation in Sri Lanka: Leading towards Prosperity or Peril Pujika Rathnayake
Lack of empathy as a threat to peace Victoria Scheyer
Comment II
The death of democracy in Honduras Daniel Bagheri S.
Berta Vive Daniel Bagheri Sarvestani
The Persons Who Changed the Lives of Terrorists and Criminals Surya Nath Prasad

Teaching Peace from Tales of the City: Peace Education through the Memoryscapes of Nagasaki Patporn Phoothong
Special Report
Reflections of Refugees in Africa Wyclife Ong'eta Mose
Challenges and prospects of AU to implement the Ezulwini Consensus: The case of collective security and the use of force Tunamsifu Shirambere Philippe
The Right to Food Shant Melkonian
Freedom of Expression Under Threat in Zambia Mariateresa Garrido
Douglas Janoff on LGBTQIA Human Rights Luciana Téllez
Common Things: Communication, Community, Communal Peacebuilding Lina Patricia Forero Martínez
The political Crisis of the 2017 Honduran Election Daniel Bagheri S.
Research Summary
Water Security in the Sixaola River Basin Adrián Martinez Blanco and Diana Ubico Durán
Reborn Arunima Chouguley
An Open Letter to the American People: Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age Richard Falk, David Krieger, and Robert Laney


Last Updated: 02/20/2009
Trauma-Sensitive Peace-Building: Lessons for Theory and Practice
Craig Zelizer

Over the past several decades, peace-building and trauma studies have emerged as interdisciplinary fields that seek to better understand their respective social phenomena and develop appropriate responses. Practitioners of peace-building often work in severely conflicted settings with groups that have been exposed to traumatic events, while a number of trauma professionals interact with individuals and groups from conflicted regions. Despite increased cooperation based on the work of scholars and practitioners who have begun to explore the intersection between peace-building and trauma, significant challenges remain, particularly concerning how peacebuilders can make their work more trauma sensitive. This article provides a brief overview of the fields of trauma studies and peace-building, highlights connections between the two areas, reviews recent literature, and discusses the concept of trauma-sensitive peace-building and several challenges of conducting practice in this area.

This article is extracted from Zelizer, C. (2008) Trauma-Sensitive Peace-Building: Lessons for Theory and Practice. Africa Peace and Conflict Journal 1 (1), p. 81-94.

To access the full journal, please contact

PEACE-BUILDERS HAVE AN ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that they conduct their work in a trauma-sensitive manner. At a minimum, peace-building should seek to ensure that activities do not cause further traumatization or psychological harm to people already suffering the effects of conflict. Another issue for practitioners is the hazard of classifying people as traumatized, without recognizing that individuals, groups, and communities respond to severe events in different ways and within political and social contexts.1

The concept of trauma can be a useful analytical tool, but there is a risk in applying a one-size-fits-all model across conflicts or importing models developed in other settings and applying them to different contexts. A significant shortcoming in the peacebuilding field is the critical need to develop methods for dealing with the challenges of secondary trauma and burnout that practitioners may experience. While more established helping professions, such as psychology, social work, and others, have developed extensive ‘self-care’ processes, this is something that peace-building is only now beginning to approach. The peace-building field has a responsibility to provide the students of the discipline—the next generation of practitioners—with better a understanding of trauma-related issues.2


Since the emergence of the concept more than a century ago, the study of trauma has gone through several periods, ranging from the initial ideas of Freud to the experiences of war-affected soldiers in the twentieth century. For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, individuals experiencing trauma were thought of as ‘weak’, and their symptoms were viewed with detachment from the larger political and social context.3 It is only with the development of the field of trauma studies, largely starting with the experiences of veterans of the Vietnam War in the United States, that a deeper understanding of the social context of trauma began to develop. Instead of seeing trauma as a symptom of a weak individual, or personal neurosis, it came to be understood as something that could occur in individuals and groups exposed to extremely stressful social phenomena, such as natural disasters, wars, and physical abuse.4

Freud was one of the first individuals to identify the concept of trauma. He originally hypothesized that traumatic experiences were at the root of hysteria, which he had observed in a number of his female patients. Freud initially thought that patients who exhibited hysterical symptoms had experienced a traumatic event that they were unable to deal with on a conscious level, so they repressed it in the unconscious. According to Freud, a traumatic event is ‘any impression which the nervous system has difficulty in dealing with by means of associated thinking or [that] by motor reaction becomes a psychological trauma’.5 Soon after his initial hypothesis of the causes of neurosis and hysteria, however, Freud changed his opinion about traumatic experiences being at the root of hysteria and neurosis. As Rolf Kleber and Dan Brom explain, ‘Freud gradually began to doubt his trauma theory. He began to suspect that the patient’s story about seduction and abuse during the childhood was the product of sexual desires and fantasies in that period’.6 Thus Freud saw trauma and hysteria not as something caused by external acts of society, but as the result of an individual’s subconscious and internal desires.7

During World War I, psychologists observed the phenomena of war neurosis—or ‘shell shock’—in many soldiers. Its symptoms included anxiety, startled reaction, numbness, and inability to function.8 The main form of treatment was to shame soldiers into accepting responsibility for their duties so that they could return to combat.9 Often the neurosis was perceived as a weakness on the part of the soldiers and not as a normal response to the stresses of war.

At the conclusion of the war, interest in the conflict’s effects on soldiers gradually subsided. With the outbreak of World War II, and the effects that the war had on soldiers, psychologists renewed their interest in the study of neurosis and trauma. For the first time, psychologists recognized that anyone could break down under conditions of extreme stress and that it was not necessarily a sign of weakness or genetic preconditioning. 10 The main goal of the psychologists, however, was to quickly treat soldiers so they could return to the front. The treatments, such as hypnosis or talk therapy, offered temporary relief.11

In the 1970s, trauma began to receive widespread focus because of the long-term psychological effects of the Vietnam War on soldiers. Upon returning to the United States, many soldiers exhibited myriad symptoms of traumatic stress, including flashbacks, emotional numbness, and difficulty in reintegrating into society without a reliable means of support.12 Veterans and select mental health professionals began subsequently organizing peer-support discussion groups throughout the country so soldiers could share their experiences with one another as a way of coping with the effects of the war.13 The long-term impact of the Vietnam War on soldiers led the American Psychological Association to develop the category of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) under which to classify the soldiers’ various symptoms. This designation was the first framework for and recognition of the problems that could result from exposure to traumatic incidents.14

In the mid 1980s, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies was established as one of the first formal initiatives to recognize trauma as a distinct multidisciplinary field of study. Through the efforts of society members and others scholars, research expanded beyond looking at individual trauma to explore how natural and other disasters affect communities.15 The impact of armed conflict on individuals and communities around the world has recently become an integral area of study.16


What exactly qualifies as a traumatic event? Ronnie Janoff-Bulman defines a traumatic event as ‘those that are most apt to produce a traumatic response—are out of the ordinary and are directly experienced as threats to survival and preservation’.17 The most common distinction of types of traumatic events is between natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, and those resulting from the actions of men and women, such as war, terrorism, and domestic violence. Frank Ochberg, a medical doctor with extensive experience working in trauma situations distinguishes between ‘victimization’, trauma that results from human cruelty, and ‘traumatization’, brought on by natural disasters.18 Another common distinction is to examine the effect of traumatic incidents at the interpersonal, community, national, or international level.19

Trauma can cause emotional or physical harm or be singular, episodic, or continuous in duration.20 There are numerous symptoms that individuals can develop as a result of experiencing potentially traumatic situations. It is essential to note that although an individual may experience severe trauma, many do not develop such ongoing psychological problems as PTSD. Individuals initially might experience mild denial or flashbacks, but after a period of time recover and return to normal functioning.21 For those who develop long-term problems, however, the effects of trauma do not recede; instead they tend to intensify and negatively affect their ability to cope with life.

The psychological symptoms associated with exposure to trauma include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, hostility, estrangement, isolation, feelings of meaninglessness, anticipation of betrayal, hypervigilance, and an inability to trust.22 In addition, most trauma victims suffer from a sense of helplessness and terror because the traumatic event often destroys their sense of security and well-being.23 At the heart of the trauma survivor’s experience is the tendency to deny and repress the triggering event and emotions associated with it, while at the same time, this same event and related emotions repeatedly intrude into the person’s consciousness without warning.24 Often these episodes and experiences of denial and intrusion alternate, causing a feeling of loss of control over life until the traumatized individual is able to heal from the event.25

Another common dynamic is that survivors of trauma often stigmatize themselves. The victim may blame herself for not fighting back, which leads to a further decrease in self-esteem, and an increased sense of guilt and humiliation. In addition, the larger community often blames the victim for his or her situation or does not wish to acknowledge the pain and suffering in the world and therefore of that individual.26 Moreover, perpetrators of trauma often try to use their power to silence or question the credibility of those they injure.27


Similar to the development of trauma studies, peace-building has emerged in the past two decades as a way to help prevent and respond to conflicts. One accepted definition of peace-building calls it ‘a process that facilitates the establishment of durable peace and tries to prevent the recurrence of violence by addressing root causes and effects of conflict through reconciliation, institution building and political as well as economic transformation’.28

Several scholars and practitioners have researched the nature of peace-building activities, 29 which can be divided into two main types: those that focus on the structural sources of a conflict (such as governmental and economic institutions and policy) and their reformation (which tend to be more elite and policy focused); and those concerned with improving relations between groups (which tend to be more community based). The majority of activities within the relational approach to peace-building concentrate on civil society and focus on improving understanding and trust between groups in conflict and facilitating interaction through community projects. The underlying basis for most of these activities is that an essential component of peacebuilding and trust-building involves the reconstruction or reconfiguration of relationships between parties in conflict.

Practitioners working in areas of severe conflict are often interacting in societies that have been exposed to severe trauma and have therefore become susceptible to its long-term consequences at the individual, community, and national levels. They operate at the nexus of trauma and peace-building. If one of the primary goals of peacebuilding is to help repair and rebuild fragmented social relationships, peace-building scholars and practitioners need to be familiar with the basic concepts of trauma studies, and vice-versa.

In recent years, a number of peace-building scholars and practitioners have begun to discuss the relationship between trauma and conflict. For example, Hugo van der Merwe and Tracy Vienings collaborated on ‘Coping with Trauma’, an excellent overview of trauma and conflict.30 Of particular relevance for peace-building is their discussion of ‘secondary victimization’. They assert, ‘The traumatic nature of violence means that any contact with the traumatic materials—through witnessing or hearing of the event—can also have a deleterious effect’.31 Although the authors raise a number of important issues, the chapter does not provide sufficient guidance of how to effectively conduct peace-building work in potentially traumatic situations, explore the distinction between peace-building work and therapy, or discuss in detail how to deal with secondary trauma. In ‘How will I sustain myself?’, a chapter in the Handbook of International Peacebuilding, the authors warn about the possible danger of secondary trauma and offer several coping strategies, including talking in a support network about what is being heard and experienced, leaving one’s work at work (not bringing it home); and returning to one’s sanctuary.32


One of the challenges of working with trauma is understanding how individuals and societies may be affected by trauma. As mentioned above, many societies experience traumatic events, but a significant percentage of the population does not suffer longterm consequences or develop PTSD. According to World Bank figures, among the general population in most countries, between 1 percent and 3 percent have psychiatric problems, such as alcoholism, PTSD, and depression.33 Although the data regarding mental health in conflict-affected populations is limited, studies reveal acute rates of depression and PTSD to be higher than 10 percent in general postconflict populations and possibly as high as 40 percent, or more, among refugees and IDPs.34

Researchers have several hypotheses for the development of PTSD in some individuals but not in others. First, the type and severity of trauma experienced is likely to be a strong factor, with incidents of violence and abuse likely to cause more PTSD than other types of trauma.35 On-going exposure to traumatic events, such as war and repeated violence, is likely to lead to an increased incidence of PTSD. Some research points to other factors that may encourage or prevent the development of PTSD, including family history, genetic risk factors, an individual’s personality, cultural factors, past history of trauma, behavioral or psychological problems, parental relationships, and social support.36 Resilience has emerged as one of the most important concepts concerning how individuals and communities respond to traumatic events. Julio Peres and others define resilience as ‘the ability to go through difficulties and regain satisfactory quality of life’ and as a key factor ‘of the intensity and duration of trauma related symptoms’.37 A number of factors can help build or sustain resilience, including family and communal ties and how individuals process and make meaning from events.38

Statistics related to PTSD should, however, be taken with a significant degree of caution. It is difficult to obtain baseline data, and Western-imposed instruments and frameworks may not adequately capture the diverse range of individual and community responses that can result from exposure to trauma.39 As Debra Kalmanowitz and Bobby Lloyd, art therapists who have worked extensively in conflict regions, note, ‘The vast majority of individuals who live through war, political violence or acts of terrorism do not become traumatized, nor do they experience either medical or psychiatric difficulties’.40 Traumatic incidents in and of themselves occur within political and social contexts, and it is essential not to pathologize individuals and groups outside of this context.41 As Derek Summerfield, a noted trauma expert explains, ‘Current concepts of trauma are in line with the tradition in Western biomedicine and psychology to regard the singular human being as the basic unit of study and to prescribe technical solutions. But it is not a private experience and the suffering it engenders is resolved in a social context’.42

It is also important to be aware that the impact of trauma may not only affect individuals, but possibly also the broader society. At a conference organized by the United States Institute of Peace,Vamik Volkan, a psychiatrist with extensive experience in conflict areas, commented that massive trauma ‘may result in various forms of PTSD in individual victims, may cause new social and political processes on a broader social level, and may result in altered behavior transmitted from one generation to another’.43 A failure to deal with the effects of trauma in one generation may lead to future generations carrying the suffering of previous ones, what Volkan terms ‘transgenerational transmission’.44 This can help lay the ground for future conflict, psychological suffering, and impaired functioning at the group and individual levels.45

Responding to Trauma

To date there is no agreed upon method for treating trauma in conflicted societies. Mental health approaches include psychiatric assistance and indigenous counselling methods among others.46 One of the issues in this approach, particularly when imported from another society, is the appropriateness of the method. In addition, as Judy Barsalou of the United States Institute of Peace observed, ‘Even when medical approaches seem appropriate, many societies emerging from conflict have limited medical communities and no means to provide psychological counseling to thousands, let alone millions, of citizens’.47

In ‘Coping with Trauma’, Hugo van der Merwe and Tracy Vienings outline three main elements that need to be accomplished to help someone deal with the effects of trauma: getting the person to talk about what has happened to him or her, telling the story in detail; reframing the victim’s perceptions of his or her role in the event; and developing and sustaining coping mechanisms for the individual.48 Throughout the healing process, one of the most critical factors is for individuals and communities who have suffered from a traumatic incident to have a safe space. The challenge in many conflicted regions, however, is the lack of safe spaces, thus increasing the likelihood of on-going trauma that can be difficult to cope with.49

Although many scholars and practitioners believe it is important for individuals and societies to tell their stories as part of the healing process, there are also potential dangers in pushing too hard using this approach. For example, if a group or individual is not ready to talk about trauma, re-traumatization may occur if forced to do so. In addition, some societies may prefer other options for dealing with trauma. Journalist Helen Cobban researched postconflict healing in three countries in Africa and found in the case of Mozambique that there was no widespread sharing of stories of suffering at the national level in contrast to some other countries. Instead in Mozambique, she found extensive use of healing ceremonies, at individual and smallgroup levels.50 In addition to psychological assistance and cultural rituals, many other methods exist for helping individuals heal from trauma, among them creative arts-based processes, such as theater, music, and dance.51


Trauma-sensitive peace-building rests upon the concept of conflict sensitivity as developed by International Alert.52 Conflict-sensitive practice assumes that an organization will be conscious of the conflict context in which they operate, will seek to do no harm, and integrate this approach throughout administrative and programmatic operations. 53 A trauma-sensitive approach to peace-building assumes that an organization or individual involved in peace-building will understand the potential negative or positive interactions of the intervention on the psychological well-being of the participants and larger community; be clear about the ethical guidelines of working in potentially trauma-affected areas and, if appropriate, in partnership with other trained professionals; and ensure that project staff is equipped to deal with potential psychological difficulties or has the necessary support.

Understanding the Potential Impact of Projects

Although it is not possible for peace-builders to be experts in all areas, it is essential that they at least have a basic familiarity with trauma. In recent years, conducting peace and conflict impact analysis has become a standard component of much of peace-building. In addition to the standard questions involved in impact assessments, a few additional questions could be added to address trauma. These might include the following: How much exposure to trauma has the community had? What are its current coping mechanisms? What is the resilience level of the community? What potential negative or positive effect will a project have on the trauma levels of the community? Being trauma sensitive does not mean that difficult emotional or psychological issues should necessarily be avoided.54 It does require minimal research, at the least, to ensure that projects be conducted in a sensitive manner and avoid inflicting additional harm on participants. There is no single model for how this should be done; it depends in part on an organization’s culture, location, type of activity, staffing, and so on. There is a need to provide increased support and training in this area not only for expatriate staff, but also for local staff, who are from and working directly in conflict regions. Oftentimes, these staff do not have the luxury of leaving the conflict area.

Ethical Guidelines

What is the appropriate role for conflict resolution professionals working with issues of trauma? What happens if, in a desire to encourage people to talk and work through their past, the professionals do more damage the good? How can one encourage groups to share their stories in a meaningful and productive way? These are several of the key questions that emerged in this particular session and in much of the conflict resolution work that I do. I have often found in working with groups who have experienced severe conflict that I constantly dance around these issues. At times, I have pushed too hard to encourage people to talk, largely based on my own, more prescriptive agenda, and have had it backfire. At other times, these sessions have been some of the most powerful experiences I have been fortunate to witness. Obviously, any decision to approach sharing of potentially traumatic issues needs to be decided and conducted in an elicitive manner based on the needs and capacity of local partners and participants.55 Local and international peace-building partners can play a critical role in creating a safe space for this work.

In some of my work with youth from conflicted regions, the projects have hired social workers with extensive experience dealing with youth to be a core part of the staff. The social workers were not there to conduct formal therapy with the participants or staff, but to talk with participants who had difficulties with the process or with being away from home. Of equal importance, they also provided basic training for program staff regarding trauma and possible symptoms; throughout the program, they were critical resource people. This idea of working in partnership with professionals from other sectors, for example mental health, is critical. As Judy Barsalou states ‘Individuals and groups suffering from the trauma of armed conflict have psychological needs that need to be addressed at the individual, community, and national levels. Professionals working in different fields—psychiatry, psychology, community development, education, and conflict resolution—all have different skills and strengths to offer to trauma victims’.56 Often, however, funding for this type of cooperative work may not be available. There are also potential downsides to working in partnership; for instance, there may be a lack of agreement over roles, and participants may feel uncomfortable if they perceive that a mental health professional is there to treat them.

To date there has been little academic writing in the peace-building field on the difference between peace-building and therapy. While peace-building can be therapeutic in nature and bring out difficult emotions and experiences, many peace-builders do not have training in mental health. They can potentially do significant harm if traumatized groups or individuals open up and peace-builders push too hard, do not provide a safe space, or prematurely push them toward reconciliation. Although mental health professionals cannot be part of all peace-building programs, it is important that peacebuilders working in situations involving trauma have a basic understanding of the concept, are aware that sometimes they may need to consult with professionals from other fields, and should always work to ensure the safety of local populations. Peace-builders also need to develop stronger ethics and guidelines of practice.

Another potential ethical challenge in postconflict settings involves the push to do cross-community peace-building across the conflict divide. Although this work is essential, at times if it is too rushed it can be potentially detrimental. A number of conflict resolution scholars have explored the importance of integrating healing and mourning as a component or a necessary first step in conflict resolution work.57 To a large degree, however, trauma and conflict resolution work remain separate areas of practice. If individuals, groups, or societies are suffering from the negative effects of traumatic incidents, it might be unethical to move ahead with peace-building work without creating a safe space for healing, mourning, and rebuilding. Groups that have suffered in conflict often need a safe space to explore their anger and hurt. For example, if a child has been repeatedly abused by a parent, bringing a parent and child together prematurely can potentially cause more harm than good. As Arnold Mindell, a psychologist with extensive experience in conflict regions, explains, ‘There is, of course, a moment to forgive, but dealing hastily with abuse issues invites those who experienced them not only to forgive but to forget. Forgetting creates insensitivity to one’s own pain and blocks a person from taking the necessary steps to avoid further danger’.58

One method for dealing with some of the challenges of cross-community work is conducting in-depth, single-community work prior to bringing groups together. As Cynthia Cohen, professor of coexistence at Brandeis University, states, ‘Very often preparation for intercommunal exchanges—especially when it involves some degree of healing from trauma—is best accomplished in uninational or unicommunal settings’. 59 This within-community work may not always be appropriate or feasible, but it is important to at least consider it as a possibility. There is also the challenge that without external assistance, groups may not always be willing to engage with one another. Few clear guidelines exist regarding how to effectively integrate psychosocial and trauma-related issues and conflict resolution work. One of the most promising initiatives in this area is the work of the Seminars on Trauma Awareness and Recovery Initiative at Eastern Mennonite University, which is conducting research and capacity building for a diverse set of practitioners.60 There is an on-going need for increased work and policy guidance in providing guidelines for practice in this arena.61

The Power of Action

One of the potential dangers in working in regions of conflict involving trauma is classifying people as victims. Although groups that suffer from traumatic incidents might suffer long-term consequences, it is important to view them as powerful and capable actors in their own work and recovery.62  Although peace-building by nature tends to be participatory, such is not always the case. Thus, attempts at measuring levels of trauma and working with groups who might be suffering need to be sensitive to the power of language and the need to be participatory.

Power is a central issue in conflict and trauma situations, because the more powerful parties will try to diminish the experience and humanity of the opposing side. As David Becker explains, ‘Victimizers in all parts of the world have used the supposed “disorder” of the victims to justify their acts of cruelty and destruction’.63 Thus, conflict resolution professionals need to be acutely aware of power imbalances in conflict situations and seek to ensure that they are not contributing to the disempowerment of groups.

Supporting Project Staff

Considering the high-stress situations many individuals place themselves in, particularly those working in international conflict situations, the field has done a poor job of addressing the importance of self-care.Most helping professions, from social working to psychology, have well-established systems of self-care that often include peer-support groups, mentors, and training provided in instances of burnout and secondary trauma. As a field, peace-building is only now beginning to incorporate these concerns into practice.


In violent conflicts over resources, identity, and power, parties often resort to severe methods to achieve their goals. Groups can be subjected to traumatic incidents that can have long-term negative psychological effects. Peace-builders need to devote more attention to developing trauma-sensitive approaches to their work. It is possible that some may be doing harm by not fully integrating a trauma-sensitive approach into our work.70 Many individuals in the field are confronted by the challenges of secondary trauma, which can have long-term detrimental impacts on health and emotional wellbeing. Although most practitioners do receive informal support from their colleagues, there exists a responsibility to systemize learning and practice in this area. This is particularly relevant in training future generations of practitioners, to help ensure that they are aware of this challenge and able to respond to it. There is also a responsibility to ensure that local practitioners are provided the support and training they need, particularly because they often do not have the luxury of leaving conflicted areas.

Conflict resolution practitioners can also benefit from expanding their cooperation with colleagues from other sectors who are working on trauma-related issues. Working in partnership with psychologists and other mental health professionals directly in conflict regions can facilitate valuable learning and linkages. Peace-builders need to develop better tools and practices to recognize trauma among populations and also to develop clearer ethical guidelines for the field.

1. R. K. Papadopoulos, ‘Political violence, trauma and mental health interventions’ in D. Kalmanowitz and B. Lloyd (eds.), Art Therapy and Political Violence, With Art, Without Illusion, (New York, Routledge, 2005), 35–59.

2. H. van der Merwe and T. Vienings, ‘Coping with trauma’ in L. Reychler and T. Paffehnolz (eds.), Peacebuilding: A Field Guide (Boulder, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001), 343–51. For one of the first texts on the intersection of trauma and peace-building, see B. Hart (ed.), Peacebuilding in Traumatized Societies (Lanham, Maryland, University Press of America, 2008).  

3. J.Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (New York, Basic Books, 1992).

4. Herman, Trauma and Recovery; N.D. Sinclair, Horrific Traumata: A Pastoral Response to the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (New York, Haworth Pastoral Press, 1993).

5. S. Freud, Collected Papers, ed. J. Stracky, vol. 5 (New York, Basic Books, 1959), 20.

6. R. J. Kleber and D. Brom, Coping with Trauma: Theory, Prevention and Treatment (Amsterdam, Swets and Zeitlinger, 1992), 12–13.

7. Herman, Trauma and Recovery.

8. R. J. Kleber, C. R. Figley and P. R. Gersons, ‘Introduction’ in R. J. Kleber, C. R. Figley, and P. R. Gersons (eds.), Beyond Trauma: Cultural and Societal Dynamics (New York, Plenum Press, 1995), 1–10.

9. Herman, Trauma and Recovery.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Sinclair, Horrific Traumata.

13. Kleber and Brom, Coping with Trauma; Herman, Trauma and Recovery.

14. R.Yehuda,‘Conflict between current knowledge about posttraumatic stress disorder and its conceptual basis’, American Journal of Psychiatry 152 (1995), 1705–17.

15. For a history of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, see history.cfm.

16. Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Personal and Community Reconstruction, Resilience and Empowerment in Times of Ethnopolitical Conflict, Washington, D.C., 2002.

17. R. Janoff-Bulman, Shattered Assumptions: Towards a New Psychology of Trauma (New York, Free Press, 1992), 53.

18. F. Ochberg, ‘Introduction: Twenty years after defining PTSD’, Mind and Human Interaction 8:4 (1997), 201–3.

19. R.J. Ursano, B.G. McCaughery, and C.S. Fullerton, ‘Trauma and disaster’ in R.J. Ursano, B.G. McCaughery, and C.S. Fullerton (eds.), Individual and Community Response to Disaster (New York, Cambridge University Press, 1994), 3–30.

20. Ochberg, ‘Introduction’.

21. C. Yoder, The Little Book of Trauma Healing (Intercourse, Pennsylvania, Goodbooks, 2005).

22. K. Maynard, ‘Rebuilding community: Psychosocial healing, reintegration and reconciliation, at the grassroots level’ in K. Kumar (ed.), Rebuilding Societies after Civil War: Critical Roles for International Assistance (Boulder, Colorado, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997), 183–202; Yoder, Little Book of Trauma Healing.

23. Ursano, McCaughery, and Fullerton, ‘Trauma and disaster’.

24. Herman, Trauma and Recovery.

25. Ibid.

26. H. Holloway and C.S. Fullerton, ‘The psychology of terror and its aftermath’ in Ursano,

McCaughery, and Fullerton, Individual and Community Responses to Disaster, 31–45.

27. Herman, Trauma and Recovery.

28. Johns Hopkins University, School for Advanced International Studies, Conflict Management


29. J. Galtung, Peace by Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization (London,

SAGE Publications, 1996); J.P. Lederach, Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation across Cultures

(Syracuse, New York, Syracuse University Press, 1995).

30. Van der Merwe and Vienings, ‘Coping with trauma’.

31. Ibid., 349.

32. A. Potter, R. Kraybill, L. Diamond, and J. Campbell, ‘How will I sustain myself?’ in J. P. Lederach and

J.M. Jenner (eds.), A Handbook of International Peacebuilding: Into the Eye of the Storm (San Francisco,

Jossey-Bass, 2002), 277.

33. F. Baingana and I. Bannon, ‘Integrating mental health and psychosocial interventions into World

Bank lending for conflict-affected populations: A toolkit’, World Bank, Washington, D.C., http://siteresources

34. Ibid.

35. Yehuda, ‘Conflict between current knowledge’.

36. Ibid.

37. J.F.P. Peres et al., ‘Spirituality and resilience in trauma victims’, Journal of Religion and Health 46:3

(2007), 345.

38. Papadopoulos, ‘Political violence’; Peres et al., ‘Spirituality and resilience’.

39. D. Summerfield, ‘War and mental health: a brief overview’, British Medical Journal (international edition) (July 2000), 232–6; Yoder, Little Book of Trauma Healing.

40. D. Kalmanowitz and B. Lloyd, ‘Introduction’ in D. Kalmanowitz and B. Lloyd (eds.), Art Therapy and Political Violence,With Art,Without Illusion (New York, Routledge, 2005), 5.

41. Papadopoulos, ‘Political violence’; Yoder, Little Book of Trauma Healing.

42. Summerfield, ‘War and mental health’, 233.

43. J. Barsalou, ‘Special report 79: Training to help traumatized populations’, United States Institute of Peace, 2001, p. 2,

44. V. Volkan, Bloodlines: From Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism (New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,


45. Ibid.

46. Baingana and Bannon, ‘Integrating mental health and psychosocial interventions into World Bank lending’.

47. J. Barsalou, ‘Special report 135: Trauma and transitional justice in divided societies’, United States Institute of Peace, 2005, For example, one noted activist makes the point that there is only one practicing psychologist in all of Liberia. Kimmie Weeks, ‘Beating swords into plows: Africa’s youth movement for peace’, a talk delivered at Georgetown University, 15 February 2007.Weeks is the founder of Youth Action International.

48. Van der Merwe and Vienings, ‘Coping with trauma’, 347.

49. Yoder, Little Book of Trauma Healing.

50. H. Cobban, Amnesty after Atrocity: Healing Nations after Genocide and War Crimes (Boulder, Colorado, Paradigm, 2007).

51. Kalmanowitz and Lloyd, ‘Introduction’; Yoder, Little Book of Trauma Healing.

52. M. Lange and M. Quinn, ‘Conflict, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding: Meeting the challenges’, International Alert, London, 2003, peacebuilding.pdf.

53. Ibid.

54. John Ehrenrich, in A Guide for Humanitarian, Health Care, and Human Rights Workers (2002), stresses the importance of providing a safe space when working with individuals from trauma areas and also ensuring that they are comfortable with the program/interview. See encecenter/Doc-man/Documents/7Staff-support/

55. Lederach, Preparing for Peace; Baingana and Bannon, ‘Integrating mental health and psychosocial interventions into World Bank lending’.

56. Barsalou, ‘Special report 79’.

57. J. Montville, ‘The healing function in political conflict resolution’ in D. Sandole and H. van der Merwe (eds.), Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice: Integration and Application (New York, Manchester University Press, 1993), 112–27; Volkan, Bloodlines.

58. A. Mindell, Sitting in the Fire: Large Group Transformation Using Conflict and Diversity (Portland, Oregon, Lao Tse Press, 1995), 107.

59. C. Cohen, ‘Engaging with the arts to promote coexistence’ in A. Chayes and M.Minow (eds.), Imagine Coexistence: Restoring Humanity after Violent Ethnic Conflict (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2003), 273.

60. For more information, see

61. In a brief review of codes of conduct in conflict resolution work, little or no reference is made to trauma issues. For example, in International Alert’s Code of Conduct (1998), there is no reference at all. In Confronting War: Critical Lessons for Peace Practitioners (2003), there is only a mention of the danger of burnout among staff.

62. A. Fuertes, ‘In their own words: Contextualizing the discourse of (war) trauma and healing’, Conflict Resolution Quarterly 21:4 (2004), 491–501.

63. D. Becker, ‘The deficiency of the concept of posttraumatic stress disorder when dealing with victims of human rights violations’ in R. Kleber, C. Figley, and R. Gersons (eds.), Beyond Trauma: Cultural and Societal Dynamics (New York, Plenum Press, 1995), 103.

64. Van der Merwe and Vienings, ‘Coping with trauma’, 349.

65. G. Van der Veer, K. De Jong, and J. Lansen, ‘Clinical supervision for counselors in areas of armed conflict’, Intervention: International Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial Work and Counseling in Areas of Armed Conflict 2:2 (2004), 118–28.

66. C. Zelizer and L. Johnston, Skills, Networks and Knowledge: Developing a Career in International Peace and Conflict Resolution (Alexandria, Virginia, Alliance for Conflict Transformation, 2005), 40.

67. For this survey, ten program Web sites were reviewed for current core courses and electives.

68. ‘Managing the stress of humanitarian emergencies’, UNICEF, 2001, resources/e_library/doc/managingStress.pdf.

69. J. Fawcett (ed.), Stress and Trauma Handbook, Strategies for Flourishing in Demanding Environments (Federal Way,Washington,World Vision, 2003).

70. M. Anderson, Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace—Or War (Boulder, Colorado, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999).

Craig Zelizer is associate director and visiting assistant professor at the Conflict Resolution Program, Department of Government, Georgetown University,Washington, D.C. This article is based in part on a presentation at the conference ‘Peacebuilding and Trauma Recovery: Integrated Strategies in Post-War Reconstruction’, University of Denver, February 2007.