Imagery of Regent people and campus

Trauma Team Visits Romania

By Brett Wilson | August 13, 2014

The Summer 2014 Trauma Team.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Benjamin Keyes.

Students involved in the Center of Trauma Studies through Regent University's School of Psychology & Counseling (SPC), oftentimes never get to see the changes their efforts have on the people they help.

"I tell our students that even if you don't think you have an impact, you do," said Dr. Benjamin Keyes, SPC professor and director of the Center for Trauma Studies. "Sometimes it's a word, sometimes it’s a phrase, and sometimes it's just being with them and being present with them that makes all the difference."

This summer Keyes and his team of 27 students—the Center's largest group to date—traveled to Oradea, Romania. There, Regent partnered with the Smiles Foundation, a missions organization dedicated to giving aid to the nation's Gypsy population.

"They're changing culture from the inside out," said Keyes. "It's the only way to do it."

Along with the Smiles Foundation, Keyes and his team also worked with the University of Oradea. The team presented to its students and faculty about how to counsel individuals through child and adolescent trauma.

Also during the course of their visit, they worked in domestic violence safe homes and nursing homes. They taught their staff members how to diffuse difficult situations, worked them through problem-solving skills and also provided techniques for working through bouts of compassion fatigue.

According to Keyes, the nation of Romania is "rife with domestic violence," particularly in Gypsy camps. That aspect of the nation's culture goes hand-in-hand with its very male-dominated society.

The process of progress is far from easy. Legal workers in Romania must have at least an eighth-grade education—most of the already-marginalized Gypsy population only makes it through second grade.

Keyes said that even though this population is "raw" and known mostly for prostitution, begging and thievery, local police credit the work of the Smiles Foundation for a 50 percent decrease in crime rates since the organization's genesis. Keyes and his team saw the value of building up its staff members and encouraging them to keep giving this underserved population assistance.

"They were happy with what we did and they were happy with our teaching model," said Keyes. "We have an agreement with them that we'll continue to work with and support them."

Not only is Keye's team of traumatologists making a difference in the world by aiding organizations that push for change, they are setting themselves up for future success in their field.

"The team really proved to be something," said Keyes. "For many of them who are going into an internship or their career, it gives them the confidence that this is something they can really do—they really did well."

This work, according to Keyes, demonstrates Christian ministry without any expectations of recompense—or even being able to see the changes they've helped make for the better.

"For me, this is the essence of Christian ministry—and to be able to fulfill that need in a way that's meaningful, purposeful and hopefully healing," said Keyes. "I think that's what we're called to do."

Learn more about Regent University's School of Psychology & Counseling and the Center for Trauma Studies.


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