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Insights on Trauma & Somatic Experiencing


Community trauma affects social groups or neighborhoods long subjected to interpersonal violence, structural violence, and historical harms.

Research suggests that the causes of community trauma lie in the historic and ongoing root causes of social inequities, including poverty, racism, sexism, oppression and power dynamics, and the erasure of culture and communities.* For example, nearly half (42%) of Baltimore’s children experience three-plus traumatic events before they reach adulthood.*

The Elijah Cummings Healing City Act, enacted by the Baltimore City Council in January 2020, will seek to train the focus of Baltimore government and leadership on healing from the trauma, violence and racial inequity in the city.

The Act creates a multi-agency task force that requires formal training on trauma-informed care and makes trauma-responsive and trauma-informed delivery of services a priority across city government. The task force will address childhood trauma and requires training at every Baltimore city agency to provide an appropriate response to the unmet need of providing a lasting response to those who are dealing with trauma in their lives and communities.

*Trauma-Informed Community Building and Engagement, The Urban Institute, April 2018; Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success,


Rescue workers can be defined as any person who professionally or voluntarily engages in activities devoted to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care; transportation to definitive care; freeing persons or animals from danger to life or well-being in accidents, fires, bombings, floods, earthquakes, other disasters, and life-threatening conditions.

As a consequence of these activities, rescue workers have a high exposure to traumatic events. A traumatic event is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as experiencing, witnessing, or being confronted with at least one event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.

The occupational routine of rescue workers includes the provision of emergency medical assistance to severely injured people, searching for and recovering victims from natural disasters or other traumatic events, all of which qualify as traumatic according to DSM criteria.

Because the risk of developing PTSD increases with the number of traumatic events experienced, rescuers are a high-risk group for PTSD. Besides occupation, the nature, the severity, and the repetition of the exposure to traumatic events may influence the prevalence of PTSD. Research studies indicate promising results on the use of Somatic Experiencing to resolve the physiological component of trauma in disaster survivors and responders.*

*Rescuers at risk: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis of the worldwide current prevalence and correlates of PTSD in rescue workers,; The Role of Somatic Psychotherapy in Treating First Responders: Providers’ Perspectives, Master of Social Work Clinical Research Papers,

Information on this page is taken from The Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute Website:

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