“Being is Doing”: Tools for Healing Adverse Childhood Experiences

“Being is Doing”: Tools for Healing Adverse Childhood Experiences

As the conversation around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s), trauma, and trauma informed care grows, practitioners and policy stakeholders recognize the impact of trauma and transition. This is especially true among some of the most vulnerable populations: young adult women and girls.

“Healing Centered Engagement is a strengths based, holistic approach that involves spirituality and collective healing. It is culturally grounded and views healing as the restoration of identity. This means that the pathway to restoring well-being among young people who experience trauma can be found in culture and identity. Culture is used as a way to ground young people in a solid sense of meaning, self-perception, and purpose” (Shawn Ginwright, 2018).

Practitioners and policy stakeholders are learning that ACE’s and trauma are not the exception, but the norm. In efforts to support youth and young adults who experience ACE’s,  trauma and transition, the term “trauma informed care” has gained traction among schools, juvenile justice departments, mental health programs and youth development agencies around the country but a big question still remains, How do we move from trauma informed care to healing centered  engagement? Consequently, very little has been said about how churches and faith-based communities can be leaders in the move toward this healing tool.


While there are many courses that document the lives of women and girls, this course begins where other courses left off and asks questions that often go untouched, like How do we move from trauma informed care to healing centered engagement? What are the informal, tactic knowledge learning systems present in the faith lives of these women and girls that contribute to healing centered engagement? How do we intentionally integrate these tools into our leadership, education systems and way of knowing and being?  This course advocates that “being is doing” and that presence and shared experience (storytelling) facilitates embodied understanding and can be used as a tool for healing centered engagement.


With this in mind, we need to realize that churches and faith based communities already have this healing tool in their hands, making them unique in their own right and presence. While researchers are searching for ways to implement healing centered engagement and what that looks like, the church already has it. The way we embody and communicate our presence, joined with reflection using storytelling, is transformative and serves as a tool for healing.


Join me as we dive deeper into this tool through the Storytelling as a Tool for Change Online Course, April 13 – May 22, 2020. We’ll have a unique opportunity to hear the voices of 10 women and girls as they speak in depth on the themes of self, God, church, and the world. Participants will gain insight as these 10 individuals reflect on their experiences and understandings in light of current psychological, philosophical and sociological thinking. Explore critical insight as to what is missing in arenas of faith and leadership as it lends to female mentoring relationships and implementation of intergenerational partnerships between individuals and community-based organizations. We will look for ways to support disenfranchised women and girls through the expansion of nontraditional, vocational, and community education programs.


Participants will also identify informal, integrative and tacit learning systems in each of the 10 lives we examine, that facilitate healing centered engagement. In addition to this, the course also presents a fresh perspective into adolescent and young adult spirituality and the trauma and transitional space in which they reside.


There’s so much to explore when it comes to the healing and healthy development of young women, girls and all those affected by ACES and other traumatic experiences. This course is designed to improve the ways in which churches and communities facilitate healing centered engagement and offer strategies for informal, tacit learning systems in churches and communities. So join us April 13 – May 22, 2020 as we explore these tools for change.


To register for this spring online course, click here.

Dr. McDonald serves as an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Research. With over 18 years of ministry experience as an educator and pastor. She is currently the pastor of St. Luke A.M.E Church/Cartersville.

Dr. McDonald seeks to educate churches and communities on the importance of implementing informal learning systems as a way of facilitating leadership and learning among Black youth and young adults. These systems are also imperative to their faith development, especially in light of adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s), trauma, and transition. Her research and work in the community has involved working with the National Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives as well as the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Region IV in the area of Women’s Health focusing on trauma, faith development and health. In this way, she has provided churches and communities with the resources they need to move from trauma informed care to healing centered engagement. As a  Christian education professor and Leadership Education Consultant, she lead the team that redesigned the AME church Sunday school curriculum and has served as a consultant in theological education arenas to develop leadership, curriculum and mentoring resources to future clergy and lay leaders within the Black church.

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