International Journal of

Communal and Transgenerational Trauma

Journal of
  Common Bond Institute  and
  International Humanistic Psychology Association


(Spoken word poetry written while returning from aid work to Syrian refugees in Jordan – reflections from a conversation with a child describing their drawing of their bombed-out neighborhood as “a place with pieces of people on the ground.” )

When you’re in pieces on the ground,
it doesn’t matter
that the missile was blue,
or silver, or grey;
or that it was caught
for a moment
by the sun
before spreading it’s darkness

It doesn’t matter
that you were wavering
between becoming an artist
or an astronaut;
but lately
just someone
who builds something,

It doesn’t matter
that an old woman
struggling to push a cart
filled with bread
was there,
and suddenly not there,
as though she never existed.

It doesn’t matter
that the world
saw a photo
of your street
– maybe just another street,
and for a moment
thought about the power
of flying metal.

It doesn’t matter
that the motive
was some small part
of some larger plan
that will go on, and on,
and on.

When you’re in pieces on the ground,
it only matters
that the smallest of seconds
meant the difference
between now 
and anything next.

When you’re in pieces on the ground,
it only matters
that in that moment
of still sensing life
you lost the sense
of being whole;
with no meaning,
or reason, or rhyme,
or fateful frozen instant,
just in time,
just in time;
when you’re in pieces on the ground.



  • Steve Olweean, MA is founding Director of Common Bond Institute (CBI), co-founder and President of International Humanistic Psychology Association, and past President of Association for Humanistic Psychology. He has extensive expertise in peace and cross-cultural psychology, local capacity building and empowerment, and designing culturally sensitive emergency human service training and treatment programs for developing societies where there is a large population in crisis, the local service infrastructure is underdeveloped or severely compromised by war and disaster, and skill and hard resources are scarce. He is founder and coordinator of more than 50 international applied conferences in several countries on social healing and conflict transformation, including “Transgenerational Trauma,” “Engaging The Other,” and “Transforming Conflict,” and for 15 years was coordinator of the International Soviet-American Professional Exchange. Olweean is a therapist with a graduate specialist degree in Clinical Psychology, adjunct faculty with Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry, and former clinical director of a whole-person oriented community-based mental health center in Kalamazoo, Michigan serving underserved populations. His primary treatment focus has been recovery from individual and communal trauma and abuse, victim/perpetrator dynamics, empowerment and resilience building for marginalized and at-risk populations, and healing negative belief systems. This orientation and his social activism during his university years have shaped his work over more than 3 decades in developing culturally sensitive models and methods for psychosocial healing and recovery at the communal level in regions of conflict. Near the end of the Balkans Wars he developed the Catastrophic Trauma Recovery (CTR) model for treating large populations of victims, operated local capacity building training programs for treating communities traumatized by war and violence in Russia, the Balkans, Caucuses, and Middle East, and is co-coordinator of CBI’s local capacity building Social Health Care training and treatment program in Jordan serving refugees that is based on the CTR model. He is 2011 Recipient of the Charlotte and Karl Bühler Award from the American Psychological Association for outstanding contribution to Humanistic Psychology internationally, and recognized for his life long work in a chapter devoted to his role with CBI in “The New Humanitarians.” Among published writings on the above issues are: “Psychological Concepts of The Other: Embracing The Compass of the Self,” “When Society Is The Victim: Catastrophic Trauma Recovery,” “Common Bond Institute: Vision and Journey,” “Wounded and Uprooted: Seeking Refuge In The Land Of Others,” “A Recurring Global Syndrome: Challenges in Treating An Epidemic of Communal Trauma,” and “Whole Person Approaches In Individual and Communal Healing of Trauma.” -- Email: / Web: