Frequently Asked Questions

General STAR Information
Who is STAR for?
What goes on at STAR?
What kinds of topics are in the STAR curriculum?
Why take STAR?
What is STAR’s theory of change?
Who facilitates STAR trainings?
Where is STAR offered?
How are people applying what they learn in STAR?
Has the STAR curriculum been used with specific communities or issues?
Attending STAR
How do I apply to take a STAR training?
What is the cost of attending a a STAR Level I training?
Is there lodging available on campus?
Are CEU’s available?
What type of US visa will I need?
How do I get to Eastern Mennonite University?
What if I need financial assistance?
Hosting a STAR Training
My organization is interested in hosting a training
How much does it cost to host a STAR training?
STAR Trainer Certification
Can I become a STAR Certified Trainer?
STAR and Counseling
Is STAR therapy?
Does STAR training make me a trauma counselor?
STAR Levels
What’s the difference between STAR I and STAR II?
Can I register for STAR I and STAR II at the same time?

General STAR Information

STAR participants are committed to responding to the pervasive impacts of conflict, violence and/or trauma in life-giving, resilience-building ways. STAR participants have included people from 66 countries of origin.

Participants have included: educators, counselors, social movement leaders, veterans and active duty military personnel, peace and development professionals, health workers, community and religious leaders, lawyers, emergency responders; and people focused on youth development, refugee resettlement, and ending racism, gender-based violence and identity-based discrimination of many kinds. Most participants work at the intersections of multiple forms of harm.

The foundational STAR Level I training lasts five days. Participants engage in experiential, participatory, conversational and arts-based approaches to learning about the potential impacts of trauma and resources for building individual and community resilience.

  • It begins with time for participants to become more familiar with each other, and build awareness about the kind of experiences that may elicit a variety of trauma responses.
  • From there, participants embark on a journey, which begins with understanding the impacts of trauma on the body, brain, beliefs and behavior, focusing on “why we can’t just get over it.”
  • After exploring the trauma experience, participants dig more deeply into the relationship of unhealed trauma and cycles of violence.
  • Finally, participants examine pathways to breaking free from cycles of violence, including identifying sources of resilience and making commitments to self-care. All of these discussions invite consideration of individual and collective experience.

STAR’s framework integrates material from the fields of trauma and resilience studies, restorative justice, conflict transformation, human security and spirituality. Learners in a STAR training will encounter these fields more in terms of practical take-aways and application than purely academic learning. These five foundational fields draw upon deep academic and practical knowledge housed within the faculty and staff of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding; each training draws on both this expertise and the wisdom contained in the experience of each group of STAR participants.

STAR offers an educational gateway toward working and living in more trauma-informed ways. This can reduce burnout and suffering and improve the effectiveness of people, organizations and programs.

Many people, organizations and communities are working and living in ways that are overwhelmed by, ignorant about or actively denying the traumatic impacts of violence. Many are affected by cycles of violence, and at the same time many are hopeful about possibilities of transformation and resilience-building.

As a result of being overwhelmed, ignorant or in active denial, even well-intentioned individuals, organizations and communities often work in ways that unintentionally sustain, rather than interrupt, cycles of violence. Harmful impacts are evident in their physical health and/or in their relationships, work and broader lives and communities. Taking STAR, implementing work in more trauma-informed ways, and applying tools for resilience building and self care, can equip us for better work outcomes and improved well-being along the journey.

If people responding to wounds of conflict, violence and/or trauma are equipped with

  • knowledge about how the body, brain and groups typically and naturally respond to traumagenic events,
  • skills for and examples of creative, life-giving alternative responses,
  • safe, invitational space to unpack and transform how they know/process their own experiences, and
  • understanding of the impact of self care and cultivation of resilience (in self, family, organization or community

their responses will be more likely to facilitate nonviolent change, healthier uses of power/leadership, and integration of experiences to deepen resilience.

Typically, two STAR Certified Trainers facilitate the full 5-day training. Trainers come from a variety of experiential backgrounds, and we continue to grow the community of STAR trainers to build a range of identity and professional backgrounds to match the diversity among our participants. Among our current trainers, people have professional backgrounds in peacebuilding and development practice and education, anthropology, a psychology, religious leadership, diplomatic and legal practice. Click here to meet our trainers.

STAR trainings are offered several times a year on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA. STAR is also offered in other locations. Click here for our training schedule.

Outside the US, STAR has been offered in 19 countries. STAR travels to provide training in partnership with local organizations and communities around the world.

Many participants apply their learning in their own lives and work by employing self-care strategies, educating their families and communities about the impacts of trauma, making space for acknowledgement of harms, and utilizing body-mind and community-building practices for integrating trauma and building resilience.

Participants and trainers have adapted the STAR curriculum to address

  • racism and historical harms (Transforming Historical Harms)
  • the needs of veterans returning from war (Journey Home from War)
  • gender-based violence (Family STAR)
  • less formal learning scenarios (Village STAR) – now translated into Arabic, Haitian Creole, Somali, Spanish, Urdu and a variety of South Sudanese languages
  • youth impacted by violence and trauma (Youth STAR)
  • literacy learning (Resilience)
  • specific religious and cultural communities

We are currently working on STAR for Educators.

Attending STAR

To apply for a STAR training please complete and submit the application online located here. One of our CJP admissions staff will be happy to assist in the admissions process. If you are interested in a STAR training held as part of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI), please visit their website here for application details and to apply.

The cost of the STAR Level I training is $995 USD per participant for training, more if taken for academic credit or as part of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. The fee covers the training for the week and materials. Lodging, transportation and meals are a separate cost and the responsibility of the participant to arrange for and pay.

Unfortunately, there is no lodging available on campus. However, once you are confirmed and registered in a training, we can send you a list of local homes that rent rooms, some within walking distance, which you may contact to make a reservation and coordinate payment. There are also a variety of hotels and bed and breakfasts in Harrisonburg. Click here for more information.

Yes, CEU’s are available for STAR trainings taken at Eastern Mennonite University’s campus. The CEU’s are awarded from EMU’s Provost Office. It is the responsibility of the participant to follow up with their certifying organization to make sure the CEU will be accepted. You can request CEU’s on your STARapplication when applying.

Participants needing visas will want to apply for a B-1 or J-1 visa. B-1 is the most commonly obtained visa that international participants receive to attend STAR.

Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) is located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Please note that there is no public transportation between EMU and the nearest international airport is located about 120 miles away. A local service, The Valley Connector, offers door-to-door ride service for reasonable rates. Please contact them directly to reserve your ride.

Visitor parking is also available on campus for those who wish to bring a personal or rental car.

There are limited partial scholarships available. When you complete your application you can select that you would like to apply for a partial scholarship and Admissions staff will send you a scholarship application to complete and submit. You will also need to provide the name and email of a reference and they will be emailed a reference form separately. Partial scholarship recipients can be awarded up to $320 for a STAR I training and up to $400 for a STAR II training. Scholarships are limited so it is recommended that you apply as early as possible; scholarship applications are only accepted up to six weeks before the start date of the training you are applying for.

Hosting a STAR Training

Yes! We have STAR trainers that are able to travel in the U.S. as well as internationally to provide a STARtraining for your group or organization. To begin the conversation of hosting a STAR training please complete this form and a STAR team member will follow-up with you.

Costs depend on the duration and structure of the training. In some cases it is most economical to send a few members of an organization to a full STAR training at EMU. In other cases, it’s best to bring our trainers to your organization. Please contact us at to discuss possibilities.

STAR Trainer Certification

The STAR Certified Trainer path is currently paused. We are continuing to mentor current trainees and those from partner organizations through the process. 

Those who take STAR I and STAR II can become STAR practitioners! Practitioners join our online learning community and have the capacity to offer up to two days of STAR material. 

STAR and Counseling

No. STAR is not therapy, though it may be therapeutic. STAR’s educational approach draws upon exercises, arts, creative group facilitation and healing tools, as well as academic inputs to a) give name to certain experiences, b) provide entry points toward individual and community transformation, and c) deepen awareness of sources of adversity we are facing in ourselves, our workplaces, our communities and the world.

STAR is not a substitute for counseling. While some people do identify the foundations for their resilience within their own traumatic experience(s), the process of working with a counselor or someone from within one’s own cultural or social context is usually a critical element of a healing journey. As an educational – not therapeutic – experience, STAR is not a substitute for the fuller accompaniment required for many people to process their own responses to traumatic events.

No. Training to be a licensed trauma counselor is a long-term undertaking that involves deep academic study, significant practical training and exposure within a community of other counselors, and caring mentorship amidst training and study. STAR is NOT a trauma counselor training program. Some participants have found STAR to be a helpful complement to their training in counseling, as it integrates societal and structural factors into understanding the sources and impacts of trauma and explores beyond purely medical or clinical perspectives.

STAR Levels

STAR Level I training invites people who want to trauma-inform themselves, their organizations or the communities/systems within which they work. Through participatory, experiential learning, participants deepen understanding of their experiences and the contexts in which they live and work, how traumatic events may be impacting those experiences and contexts, and strategies for self-care and resilience building to transform the impacts of trauma.

STAR Level II provides review and deeper exploration of the STAR models and modes of learning. It invites participants to review the curriculum, explore some of the activities and subject areas in greater depth, practice facilitating STAR activities, and plan how they will apply STAR learning in their own contexts.

No, it is not possible to register for STAR I and STAR II at the same time. Participants must have at least 3-6 months between taking STAR I and STAR II. For admission to STAR II, applicants must have applied STAR concepts personally or professionally since completion of STAR I training.

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