A Focus on Relational and Narrative Aspects of Trauma: Challenges and Opportunities for Higher Education

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Given the multitude of complex issues associated with supporting student survivors of trauma, Shalka's introduction to the topic aptly homes in on the essentials with which all student affuirs educators should be familiar: definitions and manifestations of trauma; current discussions related to our work; and how to best support students by listening well, making referrals, and carefully examining the efficiency of policies and procedures. Pare of the effectiveness of Shalka's essay lies in her sharing of her personal story, which not only informs the reader of her firsthand knowledge of crauma but also is a reminder of how crauma comes in an endless variety of specific forms. Importantly, testimonies like Shalka's are a critical pare of trauma recovery, a process that involves the survivor, family members, friends, and society at large. As Judith Herman states, "Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims. "3 Shalka's appropriately broad-sweep introduction makes room for chis more focused response, one that concentrates on the relational and narrative or "account-giving" aspects of trauma and trauma recovery. More specifically, this essay underscores the vastness of the interpersonal and societal conditions within which trauma and its implications and recovery occur and the role that truth-telling plays in healing from trauma on individual and collective levels. Lastly and accordingly, given these considerations, I reflect on how student affairs educators are poised to cake responsibility for and aid in trauma recovery processes.

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