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A virtual conference on
Moving Toward Wholeness:
Traumatized Texts and Bodies

Friday, October 29, 2021, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Eastern

To facilitate recovery and resilience, we will explore the intersections among:

  • Trauma studies in psychiatry and psychology 

  • Ancient experiences of trauma in the Bible 

  • Vicarious, minority, and gender trauma today 


Speakers and Workshops


Eileen A. Dombo

Ph.D. in Social Work, Assoc. Prof. Catholic University of America, Clinical Social Worker and Therapist

Fostering Resilience in Trauma Work

Research shows that there are expected and normal reactions to working with individuals, families, and communities who have experienced trauma. There are clear bio-psycho-social-spiritual costs of the work, as well as real interpersonal consequences on the worker, if left unaddressed. All professionals responsible for the ethical treatment of those who seek help have a responsibility to address the impact of our work so that we may continue to stay empathically attuned to clients. The goal of this workshop is to raise awareness of the impact of work on professionals. Attendees will gain insight into the effects of the work personally and professionally, and create strategies to maintain resilience for optimal effectiveness in their work.

Eileen A. Dombo, Ph.D., LICSW, is a clinical social worker and educator who has been providing trauma treatment and services to sexual abuse survivors since 1996. In addition, she has conducted research on and worked with many organizations to address issues of workforce health, vicarious trauma, and trauma-informed services. Dr. Dombo is an Associate Professor, Assistant Dean, and Chair of the Ph.D. Program at The Catholic University of America’s National Catholic School of Social Service, where she teaches clinical practice and doctoral level courses. Additionally, she is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought. In her community service work, Dr. Dombo is the Chairperson of the Child Protection Board for the Archdiocese of Washington. Based on her ongoing clinical work and reputation among her peers, she was named a “Top Therapist” by Washingtonian Magazine.


Chanequa Walker-Barnes

M.Div., Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Prof. of Practical Theology and Pastoral Counseling, Columbia Theological Seminary


Armor Up! The StrongBlackWoman as a Response to Cultural Trauma

It has been 100 years since Black (and overwhelmingly Christian) clubwomen crafted and disseminated the ideology of the StrongBlackWoman as the defense against racist and sexist stereotypes. In recent years, however, there is growing critique of this cultural identity as Black women have recognized its deleterious impact upon their health and well-being. These critiques have often overlooked an important dimension of the StrongBlackWoman, namely that it is a racial-gender specific response to trauma, hardship, and loss that has both adaptive and maladaptive elements. This lecture, therefore, offers a trauma-informed perspective on what it means to move toward wholeness for StrongBlackWomen.

Chanequa Walker-Barnes is a clinical psychologist, womanist theologian, and ecumenical minister whose work focuses upon healing the legacies of racial and gender oppression. She is the author of I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation and Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength. She is Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia.


Mary Ann Dutton

Ph.D., Prof. of Psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical Center


The Impact of Gender-Based Trauma and the Role of Mindfulness-Based Interventions

This presentation will focus on trauma in the form of sexual and physical violence and abuse as experienced by girls and women, as well as boys and young men. Scientific study and clinical observation have helped us to understand the impact of trauma on the mind and body; on one’s sense of Self, others, and the world; and on the Spirit. There is an array of approaches to healing trauma and this presentation will focus specifically on mindfulness-based interventions as an integrative treatment approach. We’ll examine the rationale for mindfulness with trauma, review empirical evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness approaches, and take a closer look at some components of mindfulness-based interventions.

Mary Ann Dutton , Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Professor and Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Community Engagement component of the Georgetown Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Dr. Dutton’s research focuses on interpersonal trauma and mental health. Federal grant funding has supported longitudinal cohort studies of women accessing health care systems or the courts. Dr. Dutton’s work has also received funding for randomized clinical trials involving mindfulness-based, intensive holistic, and telehealth-delivered interventions for trauma populations, including Veterans. Dr. Dutton’s research has included the study of immigrant and African American women’s use of civil protection orders and the criminal courts for domestic violence. Dr. Dutton offers her expertise in trauma-informed legal advocacy for legal professionals. Dr. Dutton offers psychotherapy for adults and couples and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction instruction through Medstar Health. Dr. Dutton is the author of numerous scientific journal articles.

Christopher G. Frechette

Christopher G. Frechette

Th.D., M.Div., M.S.W., Bible Scholar, Therapist, Spiritual Director


Punishing and Compassionate: Biblical Images of God Engaged as Resilience Narratives in Safe Liturgical Spaces

Employing insights from the study of trauma and resilience to interpret biblical images of God can open avenues for using those images to inform contemporary liturgical practice that supports resilience. Resilience here involves a dynamic, interactive, and ambivalent process that enables people to cope with psychological crises dominated by clashing understandings of self and world. Texts and images function as resilience narratives when they help to interpret the crisis by symbolizing meaning and organizing experience in ways that support endurance and wellbeing. Psychological crises, including trauma, can cause people to experience barriers, often hidden from awareness, to believing deeply the good news witnessed throughout the Bible. Such barriers can include toxic assumptions about themselves and the world that compromise their ability to relate well to God, to themselves, and to others. This presentation will explore how a symbolic program that combines some images of God as angry and punishing, along with others of God as compassionate and forgiving, can help to diminish such barriers. Their capacity to address diverse needs within survivors of psychological crises enables such images to do this. The presentation will also consider how to apply these insights today in constructing safe liturgical spaces that support resilience.

Christopher G. Frechette is a childhood trauma therapist in the practice of Patrick Teahan, LICSW, and stands at the forefront among scholars who interpret biblical texts through the lens of trauma. He is co-editor of Bible through the Lens of Trauma (2016) and the author of multiple scholarly articles, including “Two Biblical Motifs of Divine Violence as Resources for Meaning-making in Engaging Self-blame and Rage after Traumatization,” Pastoral Psychology 66 (2017), 239-49. He earned his doctorate in Old Testament at Harvard University, his Master of Divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (Berkeley), and his Master of Social Work degree at Salem State University. He received his advanced clinical social work training at the Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Outpatient Clinic in Brockton, Massachusetts. Formerly a Catholic priest, and a Jesuit from 1992-2013, he has extensive experience presiding at liturgy and preaching, especially in prison settings.


9-9:10 a.m. 

Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:10-10 a.m. 

Eileen A. Dombo — Fostering Resilience in Trauma Work 

10:15-11:05 a.m. 

Chanequa Walker-Barnes — Armor Up! The StrongBlackWoman as a Response to Cultural Trauma

11:20 a.m.-Noon

Panel Discussion (all 4 speakers)

Noon-1 p.m.


1-1:50 p.m.

Mary Ann Dutton — The Impact of Gender-Based Trauma and the Role of Mindfulness-Based Interventions

2:10-3 p.m.

Christopher Frechette — Punishing and Compassionate: Biblical Images of God Engaged as Resilience Narratives in Safe Liturgical Spaces

3:15-3:55 p.m. 

Panel Discussion (all 4 speakers)

3:55-4 p.m.

Closing Remarks