This week on The Allender Center Podcast, Dan continues the “Training Wounded Healers” series all about our signature Training Certificate, a year-long program that guides individuals through engagement with their own stories of harm and trauma for the sake of learning to offer healing and restoration in the stories of others. Here, Dan is joined by Cathy Loerzel, MA, co-founder and Executive Director of The Allender Center, and Rachael Clinton, MDiv, a pastor, certificate facilitator, and member of our Teaching Staff. Cathy and Rachael are also graduates of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology.
Cathy shares the story that led her to pursue an MA in Counseling Psychology at The Seattle School. Cathy was eventually invited to oversee the planning and execution of The Seattle School’s conferences, a position that led to her vision for the The Allender Center. In her current work facilitating the Externship Program, Cathy continues to develop her capacity to train others in the work of fostering healing and transformation.
Cathy: “If it’s important work, let me figure out how to make it accessible, so that we can train people, so that this is something that can be happening all over the country and all over the world.”
Rachael was invited to join The Allender Center at the very beginning, and as a leader she offers a unique presence that is both pastoral and therapeutic. She shares how working as a research assistant on Dan’s Sabbath book eventually led to the opportunity to teach and facilitate groups, particularly at the intersection of trauma and spiritual formation.
Rachael: “I just fell in love with getting to do story work in a group setting with people. It was the best kind of pastoral care you could ever do. […] I really, really love journeying with people in the midst of their stories where their theological imagination, biblical imagination, the way they understand themselves in relation to God, God in relation to them, has been disordered because of the harm they’ve experienced.”
Dan: “It’s crucial and so simple to say you can deal with the depths of a person’s horizontal story, their relationships with others, but always, always, always our labor is ultimately about your heart with Jesus, your engagement with God. And unfortunately or fortunately, the framework of your trauma provides a very substantial lens for how you interpret life in relationship to how you see God.”
Cathy talks about the ongoing work of creating a standardized training program that allows for the particularities of every individual and the artistry of story work, while also offering the theoretical education and technical training that allows space for nuance and creativity. The desire to offer all of that, and to distill Dan’s complex theories into a practical, hands-on training, gave birth to The Allender Center’s Training Certificate and the Externship Program.
Cathy: “We’re able to do a catalytic event that allows people who are very specifically trained to read into difficult stories and reveal things that are not typically revealed in an average reading of story. […] How many people can we train over the next 10 years? How many people can we equip who are doing this work on the ground as lay leaders, as pastors, as friends, as spouses? My dream is to continue to equip people to go into the trenches and bring some sort of healing and allow Jesus to be revealed in ways that don’t happen through average care.”
Rachael: “Part of what we do is give people categories through which to interpret their story more truthfully, to give them more freedom. So when I’m working with people I want to create a sanctuary where there is safety, and goodness, and a place for healing, but also a call to arms, that they would be empowered to come to life, to take what they’re receiving and learning and be able to offer that others.”
Dan: “The design and desire is to give it away, to train people to be able to go out, somewhat under our experienced supervision and input, but go out and start works that engage, in your local church and your community, life and resurrection in the face of trauma. […] We’re not going to be embarrassed to say, in some sense, this is an invitation to come check us out and begin to ask, how are you called to engage the issues of trauma, and how can we join you in the work of God to help you become better at what you do?”