Founder of CAST Canada
The steady stream of opportunity to honour the work of helping professionals is one of the greatest gifts Tom Regehr receives through his work with CAST Canada. Through formal education workshops or through regular conversation he speaks to those on the front lines of human suffering, and he acknowledges just how important their work is.
"They do some of the most important work on the planet,
and they are often underpaid and sadly under-appreciated
in our society,”
He’s been there on the front lines, drawn there through his darkest moments seeking a path to a better life after years of severe alcoholism and drug addiction led him to live with no shelter, no heat, no food and no meaningful relationships or companionship. Unaddressed childhood trauma and his inability to resolve the grief and pain that grew as a result led him through his continual descent, and it was the support of some key people and organization that drew him back. The trauma and suffering of his earlier life isn’t the focus of what he does through CAST Canada, but it does inform his work and offers him a unique perspective. During his early recovery, he accessed several types of services, eager to find something that would offer him the clarity he needed. A 28-day, in-house detox program failed in almost every way possible, yet it offered him a safe place. For the first time in prolonged memory, he knew where he was going to sleep the next night.
“That had a profound effect on my ability to be present in the moment.” Tom says.
He ventured from there to the Credit Valley Drug and Alcohol Program which stands out in his mind as and example of the a program done right. Counsellors and professionals held true respect for those they sought to help, and the programs were excellent. Tom refers to one therapist he worked with t a different agency as “the architect of my reconstruction,” and it was in those sessions that he realized just how important the role of the helping professional is.
Still in these early stages of recovery, Tom was asked to sit on an addiction-focused committee with one of Ontario’s Ministry of Health District Health Councils. It was pure tokenism, Tom says, yet in the process he learned the ways in which executive directors and policy-makers with critical organizations approached the lives of the vulnerable. He learned their needs, their challenges and their language.
In 1999 Tom began to run the first C.A.S.T. support groups – Come And Sit Together– and for five years, with his feet firmly planted on the ground, he watched people come into the sessions and make positive change in their life. They felt safe, they wanted to be there and they made progress that for most of them could not have been achieved through a twelve-step program. CAST evolved and a series of more than 100 panel discussions between front line professionals and people in active recovery sprung into being, and each of these discussions formed the basis of knowledge that continues to inform CAST Canada’s approach to education.
“When I help a social worker or cop or a counselor understand what might be going on in the hearts and minds of somebody who’s needing help, my hope is that they’re able to be more present, they’re able to be more compassionate and they’re able to actually help rather than further traumatize,”
They are one of the most important keys to reducing suffering in this world, and CAST Canada is there for them.
For present activities see Event Summary
Tom Regehr opening the Grounding Trauma conference.
CAST Canada helps professionals and corporations better understand the role of trauma and unresolved grief in addictions, homelessness, chronic unemployment, mental illness and other concerns through the coordination of workshops, trainings and keynote speaking throughout Ontario and across Canada.
CAST is an acronym which stands for Come And Sit Together