Odelya Gertel Kraybill, PhD
Odelya is a trauma survivor who became a therapist, trainer, facilitator and consultant with over a decade of experience working with survivors and aid workers in locations of conflict and trauma. She has worked for the UN, governmental institutions, and NGOs in the US, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Odelya focused on trauma studies in three graduate studies programs, earning a Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation as a Fulbright scholar at Eastern Mennonite University, a Masters in Expressive Therapies at Lesley University, and a PhD in which she researched efficacy of strategies for mitigating secondary traumatic stress in aid workers, also at Lesley.
In her practice she works primarily in an expressive therapies modality, supported by wholistic approaches to trauma integration, especially nutritional awareness and sensory integration.
Before relocating to the Washington, DC area with her husband and twin sons in April, 2015, Odelya resided in the Philippines, Lesotho and Israel.
In addition to training and consulting for organizations, government agencies, and individuals in these and other locations, she has provided expressive eTherapy by phone and Skype to aid and development workers worldwide.
Her personal self-care interests include parenting, reading, dancing, music, puzzles, yoga and meditation, cooking, and movies. For more on herwork as a trainer, consultant, and writer on stress and trauma-related topics, see her website on Expressive Trauma Integration at www.eti.training.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?
When Odelya began learning about trauma in her practicum, something didn’t quite make sense, it didn’t click. In order to fully understand what she was learning she decided to create her own experiential psychosocial support workshop in which she taught the theory of trauma experientially, using drama, art and movement. This clicked, and it served as the beginning of the amazing work she now does.
A Crucial Early Mistake
Odelya talks about being in training and becoming emotionally involved with the story of a young client who at the time was losing his father. Odelay shares her struggle with bringing this young client’s story home with her and how that interfered with her work.
I myself am a survivor, and I carry a lot of pain with me. I don’t feel it all the time, but I know what it’s like to feel it. Again, and again and again I feel so honored and privileged to do this work.
- Read as much as you can. Read about different disciplines of therapy, about things that worked for other people.
- It’s really important not to assume that one person knows better what’s right for another person.
- Try your best not to let your client leave your office flooded.
- Get into therapy. Use supervision. And maintain a self-care regime.
Odelya’s go-to books
- Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel van der Kolk MD