Saturday, October 30, 2021

Notes on a Trauma Conference

I spent much of yesterday "at" a conference on trauma; because it was a virtual conference, I could be on campus, taking care of school business (typically light on Fridays), while hearing interesting presentations on trauma research, on trauma in texts, on how to remake our spaces to make them safer for people who have suffered trauma.

I joined the Zoom meeting prepared to turn off my camera and my microphone, but we were never allowed those controls, which is fine with me.  If we wanted to interact, we wrote in the chat, and people did.  In some ways, it was more interactive than a traditional conference.  At a traditional conference, only a few people get to pose a question at the end of a presentation.  That was not the case yesterday.  From what I could tell, almost every question was answered.

All of the presentations were compelling, although the last presenter did talk a bit fast.  I liked that I could control the volume, because his voice would have been hard to hear in a big conference room.  All attendees will get access to the recording.

The presentations had a nice balance.  For example, the first presenter talked about compassion fatigue, but also compassion satisfaction, the good feelings we get from helping people.  Although the conference was sponsored by Wesley Theological Seminary, the presentations seemed applicable to many professions.

I was even able to use some ideas from the presentation in my writing for seminary.  I had been wrestling with how to end my discussion post on God hardening Pharaoh's heart in the Exodus story, so it was interesting to hear a speaker talk about how some of the aspects of God that I find comforting--like the idea of God holding us in a loving gaze--might be difficult for someone who has been abused by someone who claims to love them.  The presenter talked about how a God who saves some people while destroying the oppressor might be useful for a trauma victim.

It's the kind of conference I wouldn't have been able to attend in my regular life, if it was offered in a face to face way.  I don't know that I would have felt I could justify the time away, the expense.  But a free conference that I could watch from my office?  Perfect.  If it had turned out to be less useful, I could have shifted my attention to something else.  

But how delightful that it turned out to be such a good experience.

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