Center for Mind-Body Medicine Model
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM), based in Washington, DC, is a world-renowned trauma relief organization with extensive experience helping communities to recover and heal from population-wide trauma as a result of natural disaster and war. Since 1998, CMBM has partnered with leaders, advocates and caregivers to support healing in New Orleans post-Katrina; in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake; in post-war Kosovo; in Gaza and Israel during the ongoing conflict; with Syrian refugees in Jordan; and with U. S. active duty military, veterans and their families.
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s model directly addresses the debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress and provides significant protection against its long-term negative effects. As participants in CMBM programs use the techniques of self-awareness and self-care that we teach, they overcome the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that follow the widespread devastation of natural disasters. Children as well as adults are able to balance the fight or flight and stress responses that trauma has provoked, relax their bodies and quiet their minds.
CMBM’s program of meditative self-care reduces the anxiety and aggression that often follow trauma, enhances concentration, and improves sleep. Participants are more able to make clear decisions about how to renew their lives as well as rebuild their homes. They are better able to focus at work and in school. The CMBM program has repeatedly demonstrated, in published peer-reviewed research, 80% reductions in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, significant improvement in symptoms of depression, and enhanced hopefulness, optimism, and compassion for others.
In addition, the CMBM model is inherently non-stigmatizing. Marketed as an educational group or class, it can be successfully implemented within populations typically averse to seeking help for emotional distress. The underlying premise of the CMBM model is to teach people skills that they can use in their own self-care. The model teaches them how to become more aware of their physical and emotional stressors and responses, and then gives them tools to change the way they cope with stressful events. The techniques are simple, easy-to-learn and fun to use. The group model provides a safe container for self-expression and support from others, while participants discover their own inner capacity to help themselves through difficult times.
The CMBM model is grounded in self-awareness, self-care and mutual support. It is an educational approach that focuses on individual and community strengths and capacity for self-reliance, rather than on psychopathology. It gives participants an opportunity to share their trauma and encourages them to discover their psychological strengths and sources of support. It is non-stigmatizing and has proven effective with people of all ages and levels of education in a variety of cultures and populations. It teaches a variety of easy-to-use, evidence-based techniques that have been proven to decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety. These techniques include meditation, guided imagery, and biofeedback; self-expression in words, drawings, and movement; and group support. CMBM’s use of small groups promotes an environment of social support which research has repeatedly shown to be the single most effective intervention in the process of healing trauma and building community resilience.
CMBM uses a “train the trainer” approach. Its initial training gives clinicians, community educators, and other caregivers the tools they need to understand and help themselves: it has repeatedly been demonstrated to increase professional competence, decrease burnout and enhance commitment to helping others. After the initial training, participants begin to use what they have learned with the clients, patients, parishioners and students they serve. In the advanced training, participants learn how to use the model with small groups and in classroom and workshop settings, as well as with individuals and families. The supervision and mentorship that follows guides participants in integrating everything they have learned into their ongoing work in the schools, clinics, hospitals, churches and social service organizations that employ them, making it available to their colleagues as well as to those they serve.