Peace Together ensures that young people ages 24 and under, who are impacted by gun violence, receive therapeutic interventions to support their healing journeys. Our model emphasizes individualized, holistic therapeutic supports, grounded in the healing power of arts, nature, and social justice practices.
Therapeutic Interventions to Promote Peaceful Futures
Funded through the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG), the Peace Together program aims to build safe spaces for young people to use their creativity and self-expressive skills to heal in the aftermath of violent incidents. Peace Together staff partner with trusted adults within young peoples’ communities — building off of the strong relationships that already exist.
Peace Together’s interventions empower youth to apply skills that they have learned to build peaceful communities and cope with grief, loss, and trauma.
How does Peace Together Work?
Peace Together combines a short-term rapid response-based intervention (4 Spaces) with longer-term therapeutic supports such as individual therapy, group therapy, arts-based social-emotional learning groups, and a Power of Nature Healing Retreat. These interventions encourage youth to explore ways to apply newly learned skills in different areas of their lives (ex: school, home, community, etc.).
The city’s Office of Neighborhood and Safety Engagement (ONSE) partners with Peace Together to provide referrals for the program participants. Youth involved in the program may participate in one or more of the interventions offered. In the program, youth learn to mindfully assess their needs and practice using coping skills to meet those needs as they arise, which helps them to build ownership over their own healing process.
4 Spaces: During this intervention, participants practice mindfulness to assess their current needs, learn positive coping skills, and use therapeutic techniques that help them process a critical incident in their community. This is a 3-4 hour intervention where space is self-directed and participants have autonomy in their processing.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL Groups) allow participants to practice interpersonal skills using creative techniques in a non-clinical setting. OCU’s program allows students to reflect on social justice issues and explore skills essential to building a peaceful, compassionate, and healthy life.
Power of Nature Healing Retreat: Open to youth who have participated in other Peace Together interventions, this retreat promotes positive community-building while supporting youth to connect with nature and other therapeutic activities. Participants will bring strategies they learn on the retreat to share with their communities.
Professional Development Training and Consultation: The Peace Together team will provide training focused on grief and loss, trauma, self-care, arts/expressive interventions, and positive coping strategies with community-based partners.
In the 4 Spaces Intervention, participants are encouraged to mindfully assess their current emotional state and choose how to move between the four spaces where they practice different coping strategies to support those needs. This intervention can take place in different community settings such as a school or community/recreation center. The most critical element of 4 Spaces is that the youth learn positive coping skills that they can apply anywhere in their life such as at school, work, and at home.
Mind Break Space
The Mind Break Space is an intentional space allowing participants to be in community with one another while explicitly not discussing the incident. Strategies in this space include playing games, listening to music, movement activities, conversations unrelated to the incident, and breathing exercises.
Arts Expressive Space
The Arts Expressive Space includes two subsections: Internal Artistic Expression and Artistic Community Contribution. Strategies in this space include writing poetry, drawing pictures, creating mandalas, writing letters for grieving community members, and developing a community art project
Group Processing Space
The Group Processing Space fosters a safe environment where participants verbally engage in a discussion surrounding the incident, process their emotions, share stories, build community, and discuss topics such as grief, loss, and trauma.
One-on-One Processing Space
The One-on-One Processing Space is designed as a check-in to assess individual needs, discuss how skills can be used to manage distress, and align opportunities for continuing support and resources.
Individual and Group Therapy sessions are offered to youth seeking ongoing support after being impacted by gun violence. OCU’s team includes licensed clinical staff trained in Arts Expressive Therapy, trauma, grief, and loss.