Healing childhood trauma with mind, body and spirit

Catalyst director Suzanne Koepplinger’s recent MinnPost column makes the case for investing in culturally meaningful healing practices to address historic trauma.

Read More

Building Resilience

On September 18, 2018, participants came together for an engaged conversation on primary prevention and integrative strategies for preventing diseases of despair. Read the report.

Watch the Video

Healing from Trauma

On Tuesday, August 9, 2018, we brought together community members for our 10th community exploration of Healing from Trauma: Tips & Techniques. Read the report.

Watch the Video

The Catalyst Initiative

Catalyst honors and fosters culturally authentic self-care practices to advance health and well-being. We serve communities most in need, including people experiencing current and/or historical trauma, toxic stress, inequities, or lack of access to opportunities. Since 2014, Catalyst has helped communities realize their capacity to support health and well-being using mind-body approaches that are culturally meaningful.


How We Do It

Create the Conditions

We educate and inspire to foster an understanding of the benefits of self-care, trauma healing, and well-being.

Seed and Innovate

We boldly invest in promising practices in self-care and healing.

Scale and Shift Norms

We synthesize learnings and connect networks that embed culturally authentic healing practices in communities.

Shift Systems and Policy

We champion policies, practices, and investments that advance self-care as primary care.


Building Resilience: Preventing Diseases of Despair

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Approximately 121 participants with a vested interest in preventing diseases of despair came together at the St. Mary’s Lake Calhoun Event Center in Minneapolis for an engaged conversation on primary prevention and integrative strategies for preventing diseases of despair, including suicide, alcoholism and other chemical dependency disorders. Read the report.

Building Resilience

In 2016, 300 people came together at the event, Building Resilience: Restoring Our Human Capacity to Heal. This event, organized by the Catalyst Initiative of the George Family Foundation, provided attendees the opportunity to experience a practical and interactive exploration of the promising role of integrative health and healing to address the impact of trauma.

We wanted to share the feedback we received about this event with you through the Building Resilience Community Report available here.

  • Overview

    Why Building Resilience?

    In 2015, the Catalyst Initiative of the George Family Foundation, along with community ally, Marnita’s Table, held two convenings on the topic of using whole person practices to heal from trauma. Over 500 people attended these sessions, and the resounding message was that this crucial conversation is needed. In response to the increasing evidence of the links between trauma, toxic stress and poor health outcomes, the George Family Foundation’s Catalyst Initiative hosted Building Resilience: Restoring our Human Capacity to Heal on September 27, 2016.

    Building Resilience provided tools and techniques for uncovering culturally meaningful integrative practices that may help both individuals and communities recover and rise above historic, secondary and other types of trauma.

    What is Trauma?

    The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma “as experiences that cause intense physical and psychological stress reactions. It can refer to a single event, multiple events [including historic events], or a set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically and emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” Secondary trauma “is trauma-related stress reactions and symptoms resulting from exposure to another individual’s traumatic experiences, rather than from exposure directly to a traumatic event.”

    These definitions, along with toxic stress and collective trauma, were utilized during Building Resilience as we learned about practical tools that could be used to address various types of trauma and their impacts.

  • Sessions

    Breakout Sessions

    Learn more about the interactive and experiential breakout sessions during Building Resilience below. The sessions have been designed for you to experience integrative practices in addressing trauma, showcase existing community models, and explore new avenues of implementation. All sessions will take place twice – once in the morning and again in the afternoon.

    Meditative/Reflective Healing Practices
    Healing Trauma Through Befriending Our Pain

    Session Leaders: Myoshin and Edwin Kelley, Sr. Instructors, Tergar Mediation Community

    Session Description: Meditation enables us to transform our relationship to our experience by connection in a more loving, caring way. This helps us to develop a more accepting relations with our deeply held pain. We will examine two skillful meditation techniques that allow us to be more at ease with difficult emotions. We will begin with the practice of non-judgemental awareness and conclude with the cultivation of a warm and loving heart toward our self and others.

    Session Outcomes: You will be introduced to two simple meditation techniques that will allow you to open to and more easily accept difficulty in life.

    Centering Prayer

    Session Leader: Rev. Ward Bauman, Director, House of Prayer

    Session Description: Centering Prayer is a contemplative practice of silent prayer preparing the practitioner to experience the presence of God with oneself. This practice draws from the ancient contemplative practices described in the “The Cloud of Unknowing” and also in the writings of Christian mystics throughout history. This practice facilitates a movement from a more active, discursive form of prayer to a reception and resting in the presence of the sacred within us.

    Session Outcomes: We will learn briefly about the history of how this practice arose. We will practice the basic form and process of this discipline. We will reflect together about sensations and experience of doing this together. Reverend Bauman will provide resources to communities and information to continue this practice at the end of this session. 

    Indigenous Ceremonial and Ritual Healing
    Aokiniimo (Cedar Bath in the Blackfoot language)

    Session Leaders: Linda EagleSpeaker, Elder in Residence Minnesota Indian Women Resource Center & Donna LaChapelle, Elder in Residence, Nokomis Endaad Treatment Center at Minnesota Indian Women Resource Center

    Session Description: Aokiniimo is a sacred bath using four medical plants for healing trauma, water, sage, cedar and traditional tobacco. We will describe the Cedar Bath ceremony giving instructions for the use and sacred meaning of each plant by educating the audience in the step by step process to holistic wellness.

    Session Outcomes:

    1. Gathering, preserving and ceremonial use of four of seven sacred medicines.
    2. Learn to prepare yourself physically and emotionally for sacred cedar bath.
    3. Learn to smudge entire body properly with sage.
    4. Learn to prepare and boil the cedar water
    5. Learn to cleanse yourself deeply in the cedar bath.
    6. Learn to release our first medicine (water) tears of pain into the life giving bath.

    Healing Trauma with Generational Gifts

    Session Leaders: Rita Navarrete Perez, Traditional Healer & Tonita Gonzalez, BS, BA, Traditional Healer

    Session Description: There is a belief within some indigenous communities that every woman who heals herself, heals all the women who came before her and all the women who come after her. Our ancestry has gifted us with many generational gifts of healing. When we are empowered by remembering the tools of healing we become healthier. In this session we will talk about the importance of traditional medicine in healing community and healing trauma.

    Session Outcomes: This workshop will talk about a multicultural indigenous approach to addressing trauma and healing trauma in different communities. In addition, we will address how all indigenous communities are not the same and how every community needs to be culturally respected. We will also teach about the importance of healing trauma in order for people to recognize their own generational gifts from their culture which will help strengthen their healing path.

    Movement-Based Healing
    Exploring Mind-Body Connection Using Tai Chi as a Tool

    Session Leader: Master Yang Ye

    Session Description: The brief interactive session will explore how a simple shifting of the mind can lead to noticeable physical changes in the body using Tai Chi as a tool. Following the interactive session, Master Ye will teach a few simple and yet powerful movements in Tai Chi guided by subtle intent of the mind.

    Session Outcomes: Participants should be able to experience the power of the mind and the feeling of Qi and how mind body connects and heal at its rudimentary level.

    Grounding the Nervous System: Embodied Healing

    Session Leader: Taja Will, Holistic Healing Practitioner

    Session Description: This session will inform and offer tools on how to track one’s nervous system. We will use movement to create awareness of our own patterns and its ability to shift with awareness.

    Session Outcomes: How to recognize the defenses of the nervous system through the body and work with those defenses in one’s self and others.

    Ancient Healing Practices
    Healing from the Heart: Ancient Practices for Today’s Ailments  

    Session Leader: Sabrina N’Diaye, PhD, LCSW-C, Founder, The Heart Nest Wellness Center

    Session Description: This workshop is a one stop on your path towards blending art, science, and love, into the healing process. Together, we will experience the ancient practices of imagery, nutrition, prayer, chanting, and movement.

    Session Outcomes: You will leave with an increased connection to your own heart, along with practical skills to use in your personal and professional communities. 

    Community Resiliency Planning and Implementation
    Engage! Rising Up and Fostering Resilience through Catalyzing Authentic Community Connections

    Session Leaders:
    Keith Allen, Ramsey County Planning Specialist
    Mary Sue Hansen, Director, Suburban Ramsey Family Collaborative
    Suzanne Koepplinger, Director, Catalyst Initiative
    Marnita Schroedl, Social Capitalist, Marnita’s Table

    Session Description: This session will explore what different system leaders — Funder, County, Joint Powers Board–have done to effectively harness the viewpoints, energy and voices of our communities. Together we will reveal how authentic engagement is a successful resiliency strategy.

    Session Outcomes: Tools, techniques and insights on how effective community engagement is a first line strategy for building community resilience. This fast-paced and interactive co-presented session highlights how the formula of Intentional Social Interaction (ISI) can be used to allow community-based problem solving to spring up holistically through authentic cross cultural and inter-generational community engagement.

  • Speakers

    Plenary Speakers

    The PowerPoint presentations for the morning and afternoon plenary sessions are available on this page. Simply click on the title of each session below and you will be taken to a PDF version of that presentation.  

    Morning Plenary
    Sabrina N’Diaye, PhD, LCSW-C, Founder, The Heart Nest Wellness Center

    Connection: Trauma’s Healing Salve
    Witnessing the transcendence from trauma to health can feed our souls. Witnessing the pain of trauma can also empty our “cups”. This presentation explores the power of connection as the key element of trauma treatment. It will guide us in keeping the pathways of hope, trust, and vulnerability open to the wounded beings who seek comfort. We will explore the current research on the healing energy of the group, the impact of ritual on the brain, and the medicinal qualities of prayer. Our time together will result in you creating new ways of connecting with your community, clients, and yourself. Most importantly, it will serve as a gentle reminder to remain committed to this sacred path of service.


    Lunch Plenary
    Gail C. Christopher, DN, Senior Advisor and Vice President for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation

    Honoring Our Human Capacity for Healing
    This presentation will share insights gleaned over four decades of working with diverse communities to foster holistic health and well-being. It will provide examples of community resilience, leadership and meaningful change. It will offer a conceptual framework for consideration when designing holistic practice program and policy interventions.


    Afternoon Plenary
    Henry Emmons, MD, Founder, Partners in Resilience

    Resilient Healers: Blending New Science and Ageless Wisdom to Sustain a Healthy Mind, Mood and Heart
    Trauma affects not only the direct victims but also those who care for them, including the team of healers. Stress-related disorders, including anxiety and depression, have never been more prevalent among health care professionals. Maintaining a healthy mind and open heart has never been more important. What can we do to restore resilience and serenity, and to protect ourselves as well as our patients from the many faces of stress? Blending new neuroscience with ageless wisdom traditions, we will explore what it takes to cultivate inner calm and joy, and to protect our brains throughout our lives.

    At the end of this presentation you will be able to do three things. One, describe the resilience model and the key factors that help sustain a lifetime of resilience. Two, understand how the new neuroscience can promote a vital mind. Three, develop at least three new personal practices to sustain your own healthy brain and mood.

  • Videos

    Videos from building Resilience

    A video summarizing the day as well as videos of each of the Building Resilience plenary speakers’ presentations are available below.