What is the Sanctuary Model? The Sanctuary Model® represents a theory-based, trauma-informed, trauma-responsive, evidence-supported, whole culture approach that has a clear and structured methodology for creating or changing an organizational culture.
We call it a "model" because it is not a THING in and of itself - it is a set of interactive tools to change people's minds and the way we go about working together, thinking together, acting together, and living together. Whether or not Sanctuary "works" is entirely dependent on the ways in which groups of people implement the methodology we have developed. This methodology has been developed and honed over the course of the last thirty-plus years and is grounded in several hundred years of accumulated wisdom - as the Bible points out, there is nothing new under the sun.
The objective of such a change is to more effectively provide a cohesive, innovative and creative context within which healing from psychological and social traumatic experience and adversity can be addressed - for all of us.
As an organizational culture intervention, it is designed to facilitate the development of structures, processes, and behaviors on the part of staff, clients and the community-as-a-whole that can counteract the biological, emotional, cognitive, social, and moral wounds suffered by the victims of traumatic experience and extended exposure to adversity.
What is the Sanctuary Mission?
To teach individuals and organizations the necessary skills for creating and sustaining nonviolent lives and nonviolent systems and to keep believing in the unexplored possibilities of peace and well-being for all of humanity.
- A Sanctuary program should be a strong, resilient, structured, tolerant, caring, knowledge-seeking, creative, innovative, cohesive and nonviolent community where
- Staff are thriving, people trust each other to do the right thing, and clients are making progress in their own recovery within the context of a truly safe and connected community.
- People recognize that safety and comfort are not necessarily the same thing - we need to have safe and nonviolent conflict, but that often means we have to be uncomfortable with the process of change.
- Tangible results of a Sanctuary community include decreased staff turnover, decreased use of coercive measures, decreased critical incidents, staff injuries, and client injuries, greater client and staff satisfaction, more innovative problem-solving.
- Such a community is sufficiently knowledgeable that it fully recognizes the ever present possibility of violence and therefore constantly attends to protecting its social immune system against the spread of violence in any form – physical, psychological, social or moral. (Commitment to Nonviolence)
- Human feelings, motivations and behavior are complex and not always easy to understand. We are affected by conscious and unconscious forces that we do not fully understand, especially by our own emotions, so that in a Sanctuary community, everyone is expected to become proficient at managing their own emotions. (Commitment to Emotional Intelligence)
- In such a community, communication is open, direct and honest and people trust that they will find out information that they need to make good decisions. (Commitment to Open Communication)
- Members of a Sanctuary community are curious about human behavior and do not assume that everyone is motivated or learns in the same way. They are accustomed to listening deeply and to being heard by others.
- If someone feels that their trust has been betrayed, they are willing to give the other person the “benefit of the doubt”, and find out what happened, rather than leap to the worst conclusions.
- A Sanctuary community uses knowledge already attained and is gaining new knowledge all the time in the context of social learning.(Commitment to Social Learning)
- Within this community, members recognize the importance of democratic decision-making and shared responsibility in problem-solving and conflict resolution all of which serves to minimize abuses of power and enables an organization to deal more competently with the challenges of complexity in the world around us. (Commitment to Democracy)
- Every effort is made to include anyone affected by a decision in the decision-making process and as a result people feel free to dissent, to raise troubling concerns, and to support consensus agreements even when they may not fully agree themselves
- A Sanctuary community is able to have safe and useful conflict as a means of learning and growing. Conflicts are seen as a resource and are generally well-managed with emotional intelligence and open communication.
- Everyone in a Sanctuary community recognizes that “hurt people hurt people” and that therefore, creating and sustaining a just environment is vital to everyone’s safety and well-being.
- Because the heart of Sanctuary is community, people in a Sanctuary environment are encouraged and supported in their individual striving but are also expected to maintain an active concern for the “common good” even when that may mean putting aside one’s own individual needs. (Commitment to Social Responsibility)
- In full recognition of the vulnerability to loss that everyone experiences, a Sanctuary community honors individual and group losses, while using a vision of the future to prevent stagnation and to promote continued development. (Commitment to Growth and Change)
- Ultimately, people who come into a Sanctuary community - everyone seeking services as well as the people who work there - are offered an opportunity to have corrective emotional, relational, and environmental experiences.
The Sanctuary Model rests on four "pillars": Scientifically-grounded knowledge about trauma, adversity, and attachment; the Sanctuary Commitments as a values-based, interactive system; a Shared Language we call "S.E.L.F.; and a set of practical instructions, the Sanctuary Toolkit, for creating and maintaining a Sanctuary culture. In this website we explore all of those dimensions of the model.