Speaker Bio & Presentations


Special Speaker

Athena Phillips

Athena has been working in social services for over 30 years, with the past 17 being dedicated to trauma and related conditions. She founded Integrative Trauma Treatment Center in 2012, which is an outpatient mental health care clinic that provides care for trauma and dissociative disorders. She offers training and consultation for providers who work with these populations and is currently in pursuit of her Doctor of Psychology. Athena was the developer and presenter of the Multicultural Trauma Training (MTT) in Kigali, Rwanda.

Presentations & Workshops

Learning Through Storytelling- Rwanda: A Portrait of Post-Traumatic Growth

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) posits that adversity has the potential to result in transformational change that can manifest in a variety of ways. While PTG does not aim to minimize the challenges associated with suffering, it highlights the potential for meaning-making following pivotal life-events. While there have been examples of this phenomena on an individual level, rarely are these applications discussed on a macro-level.

Rwanda is a beacon of hope for the rest of the world with regards to their response to the `1994 genocide against the Tutsi, where between 600,000 and 1,000,000 people were killed by friends and neighbors within 100 days. The Rwandan government shaped a thoughtful, organized, and intentional recovery that capitalized on the strengths of Rwandan culture that were embedded before colonization. The fruits of this response are captured by the safety, cleanliness, and highly connective country who identifies as "One Rwanda." In essence, the national identity captures the reality that we are all human regardless of ethnic or racial identities.

Our Rwanda: A Portrait of Post-Traumatic Growth, is the first episode in a series of storytelling trainings that were designed to increase relatability of concepts in mental health. Utilizing original video content in conjunction with traditional presentation methods, this episode will highlight strength, resiliency, and the results of Rwanda's exemplary response to the genocide. Post-traumatic growth and resiliency are discussed in the context of people who shared their stories with us, along with mental health professionals who live and work in Rwanda.

Learning Objectives

  • Define Post-Traumatic Growth Theory
  • Discuss the concepts of PTG and apply them to Rwanda's recovery from the genocide.
  • Discuss characteristics unique to Rwandan culture that cultivated a unified populous following the genocide.
  • Apply the lessons learned about PTG through the Storytelling series to their own client work.

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