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Seminary of the Southwest to develop program to address racial trauma

Seminary of the Southwest

The Seminary of the Southwest, an Episcopal seminary located in Austin, Texas, received a grant from the Moody Foundation to develop a continuing education program designed for equipping mental health providers and clergy with professional counseling strategies that address the devastating impact of racial trauma among clients and congregations they serve.

Marlon Johnson

The first of its kind in Central Texas, the Racial Trauma Initiative will seek to address a mental health crisis arising from compounding factors of social injustice, televised police brutality, and the disproportionate impact of COVID on Black and Brown communities. The $135,000 grant will cover the scope of development and implementation of the program through September of 2023.

“Seminary of the Southwest is uniquely positioned to create resources for those in vocations of healing who must confront these difficult issues on a regular basis,” said Dean Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, dean and president. “Our blended faculty of counselors, scholars, and priests enables us to create a curriculum of continuing education that integrates science and faith to address the ongoing destructive issue of racial trauma.”

Dr. Marlon Johnson, assistant professor in counselor education, will lead the project. His research centers on understanding the experiences of recruiting African American men into counseling programs, the intersectionality between LGBTQ identity and faith orientation, and continuing multicultural counselor education.

“The Racial Trauma Initiative is an exciting new opportunity for our seminary to connect to the Central Texas region,” said Johnson, “As we endeavor to unearth the history of racial trauma and injustice in our area, this program will support the healers within our community to learn and engage personally and professionally with Austin’s communities of color. Though I have been charged to lead this work at our institution, I am excited to collaborate with the leaders and community members who engage in the healing of racism and discrimination across the county and state.”

The goal of the program is to ease the impact of racial trauma on African American children and families in Central Texas by increasing the number of providers in Central Texas trained in evidence-based best practices.

It will provide new and effective methods for assessing and treating racial trauma for African American children and families in the era of COVID-19, as well as providing inexpensive, specialized, and virtual training on racial trauma and racial healing for mental health counselors and clergy to become certified in racial trauma/healing. Johnson, with support from the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program faculty and staff, will develop the curriculum throughout the spring of 2022 with a goal of beginning to present the continuing education resources by fall of 2022. The resources will be included in continuing education opportunities that Southwest presents throughout the year and on a regular basis.

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