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Collective Trauma Summit 2020: The Power of Collective Healing

The Summit Is Having a Big, Positive Impact in the World at a Time When We Need It the Most

The 2020 Collective Trauma Summit, which took place from September 22 – October 1, reached more than 108,000 people in 100 countries with 45+ speakers, including leading trauma therapists, visionaries, change-makers, spiritual leaders, poets, musicians, and activists.

While it’s not possible to cover all topics and areas of interest in just 10 days, this year the planning committee strove to include a diverse group of speakers covering a wide range of perspectives on trauma healing.

Here are just a few of the experts we were honored to have join us: trauma experts Gabor Maté and Stephen Porges; visionaries Valarie Kaur and Dr. Srini Pillay, change-makers including Dr. Angel Acosta; peacemakers Deeyah Khan and William Ury; spiritual leaders Ruth King and Sharon Salzberg, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and musician Krishna Das. 

Click here for a complete list of presenters and to purchase the Summit Upgrade Package.

“Thank you for bringing such a variety of speakers together, for including so many approaches, for creating a “think-tank”, for combining spirituality and science, for being an example of what is possible when we bring our “forces” – our talents, our wish to acknowledge and heal trauma, our individuality AND our being interrelated – together.” – Silke S., intercultural mediator, Germany

The Impact Of Collective Trauma

With recent global events on our planet, the topic of collective trauma has really been brought to the surface. 

The underlying consequence of trauma—whether in individuals, families, communities, or societies—is that it damages our innate human capacity to form and sustain healthy relationships. By directly addressing our communal and historical wounds together, we can actively repair the essential disruption trauma has created. 

It is vital that we restore our relational fabric by deeply listening to one another and acknowledging the wounds of the past. This requires more than intellectual awareness—it necessitates that we also feel. Which is why it’s so important to include nature, poetry, music, and the arts in our healing toolkit because these create experiences that speak to our soul and deeply touch us.

When we create practices that activate group coherence and mutual presencing, we not only heal; we enervate our collective nervous system toward higher resilience and evolutionary unfolding.

Inner Work Is The Gateway To Healing

While the prospect of healing trauma can feel overwhelming, we heard again and again in the Summit that we don’t need to be more than we are, we just need to be where we are. We start to heal just by being present to where we are, and take the next step. As it says in the Tao Te Ching, the journey of a thousand miles starts underneath our feet.

Every difficulty we face is a signpost to a deeper teaching life has yet to show us. And when we awaken our inner curiosity and passion for inquiry, we become life’s deepest devotees, its most ardent students. This offers us the power to bring light and awareness not only to our own lives, but to bear it as a seed of healing into the world.

Exploring Our Roots And Ancestral History

Any unhealed past is not really past; it will continually be repeated until it can be processed and integrated. Integrated history is presence.

Our ancestors transmit to us an intelligence that is resilient – after all, we are here today because of the sacred lineage of life, the will that wants to live. 

However, as we also learned throughout the Summit, including in talks about the Polyvagal theory, intergenerational trauma is also transmitted. Our bodies and nervous systems are the resonance body for fragmentation to find a home. 

As Thomas writes in his new book, Healing Collective Trauma, “My work has shown me that trauma is never purely an individual problem. And no matter how private or personal, trauma cannot belong solely to a family, or even to that family’s intricate ancestral tree. The consequences of trauma—indeed, the cumulative effects of personal, familial, and historical traumas—seep across communities, regions, lands, and nations. The impact of human-created suffering extends beyond the original subject or subjugated group; trauma’s legacy weaves and wires our very world, informing how we live in it, how we see it, and how we see and understand one another.”

The Future Has The Power To Rewrite The Past 

Healing past energy creates a forward ripple effect. When we integrate shadow or trauma, it releases light and energy that was previously held in shadow, offering greater movement and freedom of will in the present.

As our karmic past is cleared, as trauma is healed and integrated, the genuine future can arrive to meet us. When we greet it from a place of presence and attunement, the world transforms. 

Societal Transformation

This year we are inspired by an exceptional group of experts who addressed many of the social traumas and challenges we are facing, including systemic racism, gender inequality, violence, genocide, climate change, and economic inequality. 

We learned about the phenomenon of a “syndemic” (systemic pandemic), which is when such a high percentage of the population is traumatized, even the people that are not considered traumatized are affected by the trauma. How true that feels on so many fronts around the world in 2020!

Speaker after speaker shared about the necessity of resolving conflict to bring about healing on the community level through dialogue. 

And while healing trauma often means acknowledging painful truths, the Summit was uplifting and inspiring. As one speaker put it, “Hope is an act of defiance.”

Trauma Healing through Poetry and the Arts

To create an environment for healing the Summit included uplifting music, inspiring discussions about art, and simply beautiful talks on poetry.

As the poet Li-young Lee says in his talk, we must find our creative self-expression. “If desire doesn’t become channeled into creating work, creating beauty, creating art, it gets recruited for the profit economy.”

Ultimately, the Summit was a unifying experience, and we are so grateful to our audience from around the world who joined us. We thank you for listening.

We received so many beautiful notes of appreciation, like these:

“This Summit went straight to my heart, sometimes breaking it open. Thomas and the other speakers helped bring comfort and hope at a time when healing is not a luxury we can afford to ignore. Many thanks for this priceless opportunity to learn more from Thomas, and to meet so many other amazing teachers and healers!” – Rebecca W. 

“I just want to share my gratitude for an awesome experience. Someone mentioned there were over 100,000 people from 100 countries watching the Summit. I was overwhelmed and felt like a part of an international collective caring about the state of our world. It was truly inspirational.” – Evelyn W., former trauma therapist; currently director of a small non-profit providing restorative justice programs for our local community, Pennsylvania, USA

“The Summit was outstanding! I’m being reminded of concepts raised in these presentations every day and am processing them into my thinking, understanding and worldview. This is the most unique event in which I’ve ever participated – a Worldwide Community for ten days from over seventy countries! How totally exhilarating!” – David E., Hospice Chaplain, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois


The complete 2020 Collective Trauma Summit: The Power of Healing Upgrade Package includes 45+ talks in both video and audio format, complete transcripts, and 30+ bonus gifts from our speakers.