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Getting Past the Pain

Duo’s program helps people recover from trauma Olga Bonfiglio

JunFu Han

by

I

t didn’t start out with a plan or a strategy, only with a desire to serve and the ability, training and experience to follow through on what seemed to be the right thing to do. And it has already made a difference to thousands of people. That’s the story behind Trauma Recovery Associates, a counseling training program co-founded by the Rev. Ken Schmidt, pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Student Parish, and his colleague Sharon Froom. TRA grew out of a counseling program the two began in 2002 as a response to revelations of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the U.S. James Murray, who was then bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, had been appointed by the National Council 12 | Encore FEBRUARY 2015

Trauma Recovery Associates, founded by Sharon Froom and the Rev. Ken Schmidt, grew out the counseling program started by the pair in 2002.

of Catholic Bishops to address the issue, so he was very supportive of Schmidt and Froom when they stepped forward to offer this counseling program for Catholics in the diocese. After consultation with Colin Ross, an internationally renowned clinician, researcher, author and lecturer in the field of dissociation and trauma-related disorder, the two developed the Trauma Recovery Program, based on the core concepts of Ross’s Trauma Model. Schmidt and Froom teach participant victims how to regulate their feelings in healthy ways to enable them to live healthier

lives, grieve their past and forgive their perpetrators and those who failed to rescue them. Participants also learn to distinguish between the past and the present in order to inform their thinking, feelings and behavior with the “truth of the now,” Froom says. “We don’t rehash the past,” she says. “We focus on skills to live effectively now.” Schmidt and Froom soon recognized that childhood trauma is much broader than sexual abuse, and they made the program available to adult survivors of any childhood trauma — severe neglect, domestic abuse, Satanic ritual abuse, substance abuse or a multitude of other traumas.

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