Free PDF for New Trauma Healers


Mary Jo Barrett is the Executive Director and co-founder of The Center for Contextual Change, Ltd. She holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois Jane Addams School of Social Work and is currently on the faculties of University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, The Chicago Center For Family Health, and the Family Institute of Northwestern University. Previously, Ms. Barrett was the Director of Midwest Family Resource and has been working in the field of family violence since 1974.

Ms. Barrett has authored the book, Treating Complex Trauma: A Relational Blueprint for Collaboration and Change (Psychosocial Stress Series) and has coauthored two books with Dr. Terry Trepper: Incest: A Multiple Systems Perspective and The Systemic Treatment of Incest: A Therapeutic Handbook. She co-created the Collaborative Stage Model (CSM), a highly successful contextual model of therapy used to transform the lives of those impacted by abuse and/or traumatic events.

Her trainings and published works focus on the teaching of the Collaborative Stage Model, systemic and feminist treatment of women, adult survivors of sexual abuse and trauma, eating disorders, couple therapy, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Compassion Fatigue.

The Quote

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
R.D. Laing

What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?

Mary Jo talks about being in the right place at the right time and that there was a confluence of events and experiences which led her into this field. Mary Jo speaks about being impacted by her mother’s trauma and observing how her mother managed it, and then as a result of this, Mary Jo volunteering with Parent’s Anonymous.

A Crucial Early Mistake

Mary Jo talks about pacing and going to fast. In fact, she openly shares that it is the same mistake she is making to this day. It goes back to the quote, she says, Not noticing that I’m not noticing.

Mary Jo’s Why

I really like change! I get excited by seeing, by experience. I feel like I was born to do this!

Mary Jo’s Advice

  • Don’t get wedded to one model.
  • Hone your skills by learning many models but then find one which resonates with you and get advanced training in that!

Mary Jo’s Books:

Interview Links

Eli Somer, PhD
Steven Berkowitz, MD

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