The Power of the Collective: Overcoming Adversities Together Through the Community Resiliency Model

By Melody Mann, CEI Intern

The Community Resiliency Model (CRM) is an evidence based practice that focuses on training community members to help one another as a collective in their wider social networks. This skill-based stabilization program helps people understand how to realign the natural balance of their nervous system (Trauma Resource Institute, 2020). CRM calls upon people to come together, regardless of their age, background, or education level to create community. Together, by forming a community, holistic healing and reflection promotes self-care and emotion regulation. Through this collective model, a support group is formed to make the experience worthwhile for all members. 

Introducing the Neurobiology of Trauma to Communities

Adverse experiences in early childhood impact the behaviors, coping styles, and perspectives of children in everyday life. With the pandemic at hand, children universally face an adversity that is sculpting their perception of reality as we speak (Miller-Kara et al., 2020). Research has shown how adversities early in life impact children’s mental and physical health in later life. CRM teaches individuals to break free of the storms that occur within the body of pain and discomfort by drawing their attention to sensations of wellness and holistic healing. This pulls upon the brain’s neuroplasticity, the ability of our minds to constantly evolve and change throughout life (Miller-Kara et al., 2020). 

CRM focuses on broadening the resilience zone, the threshold of adversities individuals can manage. This zone allows individuals to make the best decisions for themselves and others. Adverse experiences can bump us out of the resilience zone and into the high zone, where individuals can feel irritable, edgy, anxious, in pain, or have outbursts. Adverse experiences can also bump someone into the low zone where individuals can feel depressed, isolated, exhausted/fatigued, and numb (Miller-Kara et al., 2020).  CRM aims to create trauma and resiliency-informed communities by educating the public about the impact trauma and stress have on the nervous system (Trauma Resource Institute, 2020).

Why the CRM is Successful

This model is applicable to individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and educational levels (Resiliency Collaborative, 2018). By employing self-care strategies and methods of coping with high stressors, CRM fosters self-healing and communal union (Miller-Kara et al., 2020). Self-healing is a path an individual takes to address their traumas, insecurities, and adverse experiences. Different than self-care, self-healing hones the power vested within the individual to take charge of their lives and experiences in a holistic and nurturing manner. Communal union brings together groups of individuals to support one another in this journey of healing. 

In the early years of life, children are highly susceptible to their environments. Having a supportive adult in their environment allows children to strategically reflect on their emotions, discuss what they are experiencing, and find methods to regulate themselves. Adults play a supportive, stable, and reassuring role in the life of a child who has experienced trauma (Resiliency Collaborative, 2018). 

Using  the CRM model reduces the shame and stigma associated with healing and rediscovery. As a community, members support one another as individuals find grounding mechanisms to cope with adverse experiences. There is strength in unison, and it is reflected in our history. For example, the collectivist nation Japan recovered from the tsunami in 2011 through unity, inclusion, and community. By helping out one another through acts of volunteering, compassion, and selflessness, the community was able to recover from the catastrophic event (Mitchell, 2011). As we face a universal pandemic, we can learn from the Japanese community about how to rebuild, join hands, and heal as a society. 

Coping with COVID-19 

The global pandemic has shifted our perception of reality and life itself. As a society, we are undergoing the hardship this outbreak is bringing upon our daily functioning: social distancing, lack of human interaction, remote learning, and isolation. Children are tasked with adapting to virtual interactions as adults are struggling to support their youth as they handle potential financial insecurity, employment instability, and overall stress. 

From what CRM has taught us about the significance of collaboration, we must join together to tackle the adversities our communities are facing. In this pandemic, we can help one another alleviate stress and trauma by being conscious, checking in with one another, and supporting everyone (Kulig, et al., 2013; Resiliency Collaborative, 2018). 

CRM in Action 

In Canada, 210 households in rural communities were surveyed for their demographic information, health conditions, employment, amount of stress, sense of belonging, community involvement, and so forth. This survey found that individuals living in rural regions with labor intensive jobs in the low-income bracket experienced more health problems, stressors, and issues. Using the survey data, revisions and improvements were made to CRM to meet the needs of the population (Kulig et al., 2008).

At a communal level, Stephanie Citron ran a study to review CRM efforts in San Bernardino County, CA. In her study, 109 participants who experienced physical symptoms due to trauma received the CRM intervention. With the support from trainees utilizing the CRM, 82% of participants reported less symptoms of depression and anxiety (Citron, 2013).

CRM is continuously being implemented in a variety of ways for communities to foster growth and progression. By learning from CRM implementations that took place in Canada and San Bernardino County, CA, it is shown that CRM can be used to meet the unique needs of individuals. By acknowledging the adverse experiences faced by many in daily lives, communal union can take place so everyone may heal as a collective. As everyone globally is navigating unprecedented times of COVID-19, let’s focus on healing as a collective for the better of us all. There is strength vested within each and every single one of us. We can join to support each other, prosper together, and conquer the challenges that lie in our paths. 

References

Citron, S. (2013). Final CRM innovation evaluation report. Trauma Resource Institute. 

Kulig, J. C., Edge, D. S., Townshend, I., Lightfoot, N., & Reimer, W. (2013). Community resiliency: Emerging theoretical insights. Journal of Community Psychology, 758-775.  

Kulig, J. C., Edge, D. S., & Joyce, B. (2008). Understanding community resiliency in rural communities through multimethod research. Journal of Rural and Community Development, 3(3), 77-94

Trauma Resource Institute. (2020). The Community Model

Resiliency Collaborative. (2018). Community Resiliency Model

Miller-Karas, E., Purcell, K., & Wine, A. (2020). Overview of the Community Resiliency Model with Elaine Miller-Karas and ACEs Connection – Part 1.

Mitchell, J. (2011). Disaster brings out best in people, communities. The Japan Times.

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