Laura van Dernoot Lipsky is the founder and director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute and author of Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others and The Age of Overwhelm. Widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of trauma exposure, she has worked locally, nationally, and internationally for more than three decades.
Laura found her calling at age 18, when she regularly spent nights volunteering in a homeless shelter. She went on to work with survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, acute trauma of all kinds, and natural disasters.
A decade into her career, Laura experienced what can best be described as a near-psychotic break—which, she came to realize, was the result of years of witnessing and being intimately involved in trauma while lacking insight into how to sustain herself amidst such conditions. As a part of her attempt to come back from the brink, she began a journey of inquiry into the lasting effects on both individuals and communities of exposure to the suffering, hardship, crisis, or trauma endured by others.
Through word of mouth, Trauma Stewardship has sold more than 188,000 copies. From being referenced as part of a discussion on the plight of Pakistani writers in the New York Times to its inclusion in yoga-teacher trainings to it being required reading in more workplaces and educational institutions than can be listed, its influence has touched individuals and groups throughout the world. The book’s concepts continue to evolve under the rubric of The Trauma Stewardship Institute, which Laura established in 2011. In March 2015, Laura was invited to give a TED talk—one of the first delivered inside a women’s correctional facility.