In seeking to create healing cultures and healing ecologies the 10 R’s can act as pillars that guide healing practices.

  • Resources

A resource is anything that can be drawn upon to support relief, recovery and healing. Resources empower individuals, communities and societies to grow and develop. Developing skills, capacities and strengths are examples of resources; so too is drawing on social support, accessing housing, education and healthcare; or engaging in spiritual and cultural practices. Some resources that are critical for healing include creativity, imagination, safety, hope, courage, compassion, authenticity, agency, and acceptance. Hope and imagination support people in believing that healing and the journey to recovery is possible. The primary resource for human beings is other human beings.

  • Relationships

Safe, stable and nurturing relationships equate with relational health which promotes health and heals trauma. Through developing ‘relational literacy’ (the capacity for presence, attunement, resonance etc.) we can embody a healing presence for others externally and for the different parts of ourselves internally, supporting integration. Healing relationships require a right-brain attention that is grounded in fully inhabiting our bodies and attuning to embodied communications. A lot of problems in relationships, whether with humans or the natural world, arise from ‘disembodied’ ways of being or ‘absencing’. A large part of healing trauma is learning to feel safe in one’s body again.

Secure attachment is the greatest inoculation against trauma and adversity; security equates with emotional health and resilience probably through a combination of enabling a person to draw on internal and external resources for coping. Healing ecologies can be created through promoting secure attachment in dyads and groups and the creation of ‘therapeutic tribes’ – groups that create growth-promoting environments.

  • The Right brain

The social-emotional right-brain is the central agent of healing. A paradigm shift has occurred across the sciences from a focus on left-brain conscious cognition to right-brain unconscious affect providing a new understanding of human nature which emphasises our relational nature and the ‘primacy of affect’ in human functioning. Emotional wounds and trauma are stored in right-brain implicit (nonconscious) procedural memory. It is critical that as cultures we develop our right-brain social-emotional capacities to relate to each other adaptively, process affect and interactively regulate stress in support of healing. This can be done through the development of ‘emotion coaching’ skills in which people can support one another to understand, regulate and transform emotional experience.

  • Regulation

Affect dysregulation plays a central role in all illness and disease. Supporting the development of co-regulatory environments and equipping people with regulation skills offers enormous potential for healing. In addition to ‘top-down’ cognitive strategies people can be taught ‘bottom-up’ body and emotion-based strategies. The focus should be on supporting physiological safety to help people develop the resilience to regulate each other when they move out of their ‘window of tolerance’ and become dysregulated.

  • Reflection

Finding ways to reflect and make meaning of the past and construct a coherent narrative is important for resolving trauma. Making sense is an integrative process of sorting through memory, here-and-now experience and imagination to create a coherent picture of what is happening in our lives. The capacity to mentalize is important for regulating emotions and managing relationships; mentalizing also prevents the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Practices can be developed to help large numbers learn mentalization skills and developing narrative competence in service of healing.

  • Retrieval and repair

Healing is not self-improvement but closer to self-retrieval – recovering lost parts of ourselves. Profound healing is possible when we start to re-own rejected, dis-owned and split off parts of the self. Accessing and re-owning unmet needs is vital for psychological health. When unresolved feelings and unmet needs from the past are activated, they become open to new input. When the sadness of past loss or fear are activated and the unmet need of security or protection is met through soothing and empathising, these feelings can be transformed through ‘corrective emotional experiences’. When needs have not been met by people in the past it is possible to get others in the present to meet these valid needs which facilitates healing.

  • Rhythm and ritual

Our ancestors developed rhythmic and synchronous practices to heal trauma and loss. Healing rituals centre around reconnection to family, community and the natural world. The group can provide a wide variety of ritualised ways for the wounded to put their experience into words. Celebratory and ceremonial rituals and works of art create a way to organise these experiences. These fall into four categories: Movement, sound, storytelling and silence.

  • Reconnection

Trauma is fundamentally about disconnection; at its heart, healing is about reconnection – to self, other and the world. Connection to traditions of stable society (structured relationships, roles and identifications), the natural world and the divine are what have always provided a sense of belonging and community. These trio of elements comprise the basis of health and well-being.

  • Revival

In healing community, it is critical to revive and regenerate cultural practices and resources that build community and buffer against distress. Trauma is passed from generation to generation and so developing cultural practices that support the prevention of intergenerational transmission of trauma and insecure attachment patterns is crucial. Practices can be developed based on understanding the emotional needs of infants and providing for them while healing the adults that care for them. Central to this is restoring ‘co-operative companionship’ and ‘the evolved nest’ that characterised most cultures throughout human history. These practices provide the kind of rich relational density needed for healing and healthy development.

  • Redistribution

Inequality has been shown to increase mental health and social problems in societies while the opposite is also true. Indeed, inequality is bad even for the rich, probably due to the alienation, isolation and disconnection it creates. The inability to access basic resources like housing, education and healthcare creates environments that are breeding grounds for trauma. Politics is therapy on a societal level; policies that support equal access to society’s resources offers a powerful means of healing communities and societies. Humans evolved in societies described as ‘fiercely egalitarian’ and so it makes sense that these are the kinds of environments in which we flourish.