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  • Writer's pictureBetter Life

Numbers, Trauma, and Healing

Happy 2023!

As we head into a brand new year, I was curious to look back on the level of reintegration support provided by the Better Life Team and our amazing community over the past year.

One part of Better Life’s responsibility as the Correctional Service Canada (CSC) Pacific Region Faith Community Reintegration Partner (FCRP) is month-end reporting, so I get a regular look at our stats. However, I was still surprised by the number of men and women Better Life has had the privilege of supporting over the course of a whole year.

As you may know, Better Life is often invited into the process of providing reintegration support at one of the nine Correctional Institutions in the Pacific Region (BC and the Yukon), usually within twelve months prior to an individual’s parole hearing. This is followed by another twelve-month period during which the Better Life Team helps with the transition period by reintegrating men and women into their community of faith.

How many men and women? Including both Institutional and Community support:

  • 178 in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley/Central BC, plus

  • 30 in Victoria/on Vancouver Island

Providing reintegration support for these 208 individuals equalled 3,532 "reportable" hours of support.

Staggering, isn’t it?

Staggering both that the Better Life Team provided that many hours of support and frankly, that so many hours of support were required for just the portion of individuals who accept Better Life's support—because all that is just a drop in the bucket when compared to the many men and women that enter parole without any support at all.

What we have found to be true is that healthy reintegration requires support and structure in the context of relationships of trust and accountability.

However, behind the numbers, what strikes me most deeply is that behind a number is a life.

Curiosity begs us ask the question, why commit crimes?

What are the series of events, the life, the experiences that led someone to offend, to break the law?

The answer to that question is very complex and is answered by each individual’s unique story. However, one common denominator is trauma.

What life trauma, and as we are learning, what generational trauma even, has led this individual to commit a crime, or even lead a life of crime?

And most importantly, is there a way to help address and heal the trauma that often underlies an individual’s criminal behaviour?

Again, there is complexity to any answer. However, what we have been discovering is the development of very effective treatments for trauma that, once undergone, can provide an opportunity for healing, growth and consequently, experiencing a new and better life.

One of Better Life’s Board of Directors is a psychotherapist who first exposed the Better Life team to an effective therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.

In so many respects, EMDR is a therapy that affirms the beliefs of people of faith, specifically the Christian faith, and the understanding that human beings are created in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made, in such a way that trauma can have a far-reaching impact in preventing us from experiencing the life that God created us for.

I’m going to allow the experts to finish the story. In this podcast, two women of faith, Dr. Anita Philips, with therapist Kobe Campbell, provide an excellent and encouraging introduction to EMDR therapy.

My hope is that this can be a resource as you support men and women through their experiences of trauma, and potentially, a treatment that can be valuable to you personally.

The podcast can be accessed here.*

In the Light The Podcast with Dr. Anita Phillips

*If you’re not on an Apple device, the podcast is by Dr. Anita Phillips (In The Light: The Podcast) titled ‘The Dwelling Place,’ October 21, 2022.

Wishing you and yours God’s best for 2023!

Adam Wiggins

Executive Director

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