Welcome to the Field Guide 

In this lesson you will find a welcome message to all our users, as well as an
introduction to The Field Guide (TFG)

You may not be a psychologist, a therapist, or a doctor. That’s fine. This guide and these videos are meant precisely for you. 

And what we talk about here, and what you learn, isn’t going to turn you into a therapist or a psychologist. This information is meant for individuals of all backgrounds, fields of study, and experience levels who have lived through stress or trauma, as well as those who are working with communities and individuals affected by such experiences and who are eager to learn the ins and outs of what happens to the brain and body under adversity, and how to deal with some of its unwanted biological, psychological, and emotional effects.

Billions of people around the world have lived through war, conflict, pandemics, crises, and disasters. Billions of people have lived through traumatic events.

Such events can affect people to the core and can permanently alter the course of their lives. Often, people talk about the “before” and “after” of traumas. Suffering has a way of reorganizing time. Suffering has a way of reorganizing thoughts, even of reorganizing identity. 

Indeed, suffering and the events that cause it affect the mind and the body in profound ways. And like most people, you probably have not been specifically trained to deal with the psychological or physical effects of trauma and stress. You may work with people who have lived through tragedy, loss, and devastation. Perhaps in your own life, you personally know how stressful or traumatic events can take a serious toll on your mind and body. Perhaps you yourself still experience unwanted thoughts, reactions, or symptoms related to adversities. Perhaps you feel like your emotions and thoughts are out of control. 

Nevertheless, you’re still here. 

Chances are, many of the people you care for have endured a lot. So have you. Dealing with pain day in and day out is overwhelming. Dealing with your own experiences and pain can also be overwhelming. 

And surely, the task of coping, building resilience, and healing is even more difficult when you don’t feel properly prepared. You may not have all the equipment you need, but you’re still in the thick of it. You may not have the right shoes, but you’re still walking the path. In one way or another, you are applying barefoot psychology—figuring it out as you go, even if you lack certain tools. We want to better equip you as you accompany others or yourself.

Stress and trauma affect each person uniquely. There is no “right” response nor “wrong” response. And with this guide, we hope you can better understand exactly why and how trauma, stress, and adversity often affect people as they do. We hope you begin to use the many tools you already carry within you to address the unwanted effects of those events. 

It is our hope that by understanding why and how stress and trauma affect us in the ways they do, you are better equipped to care for yourself, to care for others in your community and make change towards healing.

Welcome to The Field Guide, and thank you for taking this journey with us.