Reflections on TAP: The Transformative Action Project-Year One

Mary Harvey, Ph.D., Founding Director of Violence Transformed

Community Psychologist / Contributing Artist with TAP: The Transformative Action Project

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All one needs to do to recognize the many ways in which crimes of violence harm and destabilize individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities throughout this country and beyond is to read a daily newspaper or check the evening news. In some states of the USA, the devastation is worse than in Massachusetts---and in some it is less. Within Massachusetts, Boston is among the hardest hit–but not the only hard hit ---of our cities. Too many us who work with victims of violence--–i.e. as physicians, psychologists, social workers, victim advocates, public health specialists and/or community activists—know all too well that the great majority of people affected by crimes of violence generally neither seek nor receive much in the way of trauma-informed care and little in the way of interventions designed to foster the discovery and expression of resilience in the aftermath of violence. For all that is being done in the way of research on PTSD, on the reality of resilience among trauma survivors and/or on the nature of effective, trauma-informed care, too little is being done to design and expand the reach of innovative and effective community-based intervention. For me, these realities define why this first year of the MOVA supported, federally funded Transformative Action Program (TAP) of Violence Transformed and the Public Health Advocacy Institute has been so promising, exciting…and challenging!

Promising: TAP promises a lot: i.e. the design and delivery of trauma-informed, community-based group interventions that (1) take note and make use of recent research on the nature of trauma, trauma recovery, and resilience in the wake of traumatic exposure, (2) integrate mindful practice, creative engagement and legal empowerment, (3) are offered free of charge to largely un- and underserved groups affected by violence, (4) are delivered in collaboration with community settings familiar to and trusted by such groups, and (5) are co-designed with these same settings. We promise a lot, and what we promise is badly needed!

Exciting: Particularly exciting for me in the course of TAP’s first year are the many ways TAP staff have been able to design and implement TAP interventions with each other and with a wide array of community partners. This has meant learning a lot, adapting a lot, and working together in really innovative ways. With that work, I believe that our first year TAP interventions have succeeded in bringing to the victim services scene a range of interventions that can reach and indeed empower many who might otherwise remain un- or underserved.

Challenging: For all of the promise and excitement of this first year, I am also reminded of how demanding the startup process can be---and that the startup process doesn’t stop! Indeed, outreach and startup will always need to be integrated into TAP’s ongoing program development strategies. To date, much of our work has involved outreach to and on-going communication with prospective community partners. Even as we outreach to new settings, we will need to maintain ongoing dialogue with existing partners. And, as we work with both existing and new host settings, we will need to continually address scheduling challenges – theirs and ours. Happily, TAP is currently able to offer a very wide array of intervention schedules depending upon the scheduling priorities of host settings, client groups and designated TAP staff. Going forward, as the intervention schedules become more heavily booked, I look forward to bringing on board additional artists and contributors with mindfulness experience and possibly a legal empowerment consultant as well.

Despite the challenges – and because of the promise and the excitement—have no fear, I am on board with TAP!