By Toni Bankston, LCSW, BACS

Toni Bankston, LCSW, BACS serves as the Clinical Director of the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center developing and implementing trauma-focused programs for youth impacted by violent crime. She also works with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, D.C. as Faculty and
Global Trauma Relief Team Member in the U.S., Haiti, Israel and the Gaza territories. She is also the co-founder of the Mind-Body Center of Louisiana which furthers the mission of the CMBM in South Louisiana by providing wellness through mind-body skills to healthcare professionals and in response to Disaster. Her 27 years as a child and family therapist has focused on trauma, particularly with exposure to trauma of disadvantaged populations including children and teens and homeless families. She has worked as a first responder in several disaster settings, including Katrina, Rita, and the Horizon Oil Spill, and has published articles related to this work.

Hurricane Katrina—10 Years Later

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since the Katrina Disaster. Many people were able to restore and rebuild illustrating what is now referred to as “post traumatic growth.” But the truth is that many people never regained their lives as they knew them and still struggle to return to their homes.

Dr.11950662495_c298b659ac_o James Gordon recently touched on the tendency of hurricanes to “shake things up.” Katrina shook things up but it also had a way of sorting things out and exposing the edges of our community—the ugly and corrupt as well as the beauty, the heroic, and the resilient. Lines between the have and have not, black and white, those who would reach out and those who would withdraw, the outspoken and the silent, the exploited and the exploiters. All was revealed—out in the open for us to see. And from this came and opportunity to grow, to heal, and to begin a monumental dialogue about the issues which had been beneath the surface.

For me, Katrina forced me out of a safe and comfortable lifestyle and into the unknown. The world became larger the day I walked into the Louis Armstrong airport and realized the magnitude of the devastation. Something was forever changed. The facade was gone. Being a witness changes you that way. And while it’s scary to stretch yourself, to take those risks, it is here where we are most alive.

So11950817553_850a9a681a_o today, I’m grateful for the chance to fully live and for the healing out of destruction and the despair of a painful time. I’m glad I stayed home here in Louisiana when I wasn’t sure that I could. And I honor all of those we lost, those who continue to struggle, and those who transformed from trauma. And most of all, I am grateful for neighbors here at home, across the country, and around the world who came to our aid, especially The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, which gave us a gift that would sustain us through tough times and beyond.


Equal Opportunity Group Experience

By Toni Bankston, LCSW, BACS

Since my first Mind-Body Medicine Professional Training Program in 2006, there have been so many moments in which I have given quiet thanks for all that I have learned and experienced with the Center. The moment captured in this photo is but one of many. Having facilitated mind-body skills groups in all kinds of places with all kinds of people, young and old, I have noticed so many common themes, including one I’ve heard Jim refer to as the “equal opportunity group experience.”

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