“There’s been a lot of documentation that interventions from the outside can do more harm than good,” says Lisa Schirch, the director of 3P Human Security and a research professor at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP). “Good intentions aren’t enough.”

With that awareness in mind, many humanitarian and development organizations do trainings to develop “sensitivities” – conflict sensitivity, gender sensitivity, environmental sensitivity – to influence the way their staff design and implement projects. Joining the list recently is “trauma sensitivity,” as articulated by former STAR director Carolyn Yoder in an article first published in Monthly Developments magazine.

“[International] agencies were often very, very eager to rush into communities that had been deeply affected by violence without having any real understanding of how [their work] could re-traumatize people,” says Lauren Van Metre, dean of students with the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

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