Following is the latest Wednesday Wisdom article from the Family Assistance Foundation, reminding you that a fully integrated approach for assisting survivors of traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written and copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D., and distributed by the Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., www.fafonline.org. Reprint is available with written permission from the Foundation.
Discovering New Ways to Continue Our Progress for Global Humanitarian Assistance Following Workplace Trauma
Not ‘til we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.
-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American Writer and Philosopher
Looking back at 2020, most of us will forever remember the losses in our lives that were a direct result of the pandemic. Deaths of loved ones and co-workers became a reality for many around the world. Job losses and lay-offs of colleagues in multiple industries have left an indelible mark on all whose work involves planning, training, and responding to workplace trauma survivors. It will likely take years before we can estimate the toll the disaster will take on the world.The transportation and tourism industry, manufacturing, oil, and gas— the list goes on of industries drastically impacted by the pandemic and it is impossible to capture them all in a single sentence.
In 2021, we find ourselves reassessing, rethinking, and creating new models for accomplishing our goals, which is what this first article of the New Year will address. We who respond to survivors in the wake of a tragedy are, by our very nature, eternal optimists. It is part of who we are to pick up the pieces and go on believing/knowing that we can make a difference in the lives of those who need us during the acute phase of tragedy when survivors are stranded and alone, without their families and other support systems.
Optimists enjoy a higher quality of life than pessimists, including better mental and physical well-being. They are more likely to engage in mind-health supporting lifestyle behaviors (physical exercise, healthy diet, stress reduction methods) and demonstrate greater mental flexibility and better problem-solving skills.
Recognizing the upside of being an optimist reminds us that our work is a win-win for all. We are driven to continue our work; despite the challenges we face. While video-conferencing for meetings with colleagues, our boards, and other groups were well-established before the pandemic, I, for one, never imagined conducting care team training over the web—but out of necessity, we are finding ways to make this work.
Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best; we must do what is required.
-Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister, United Kingdom
When I created Human Services Response™ Training (HSR), research did not support using computers for soft skills training. Working with survivors of trauma as a company employee is modeled by the trainer's behavior. Watching a video of how to meet, connect, and support a survivor displaying various emotions, did not seem good enough. However, as Prime Minister Churchill’s quote points out, due to necessity, we are discovering and creating new models for humanitarian assistance training—and we are optimistic they will work.
The Foundations’ Webinars
Once it became clear that travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic would not allow our fall international conference to occur, we began to plan for the best possible substitute—video-conferencing as a way to hold webinars. To our delight, each of the three webinars presented in 2020, held several times to accommodate our global membership, resulted in more than one hundred attendees for each program.
In 2021, plans are underway to offer at least one webinar per month, beginning in February. The programs will involve a mixture of educational programs for Foundation members and training presentations for Foundation members and clients of Aviem International, Inc., on the logistical response.
Education and Training: The Differences
While the Human Services Response™ programs provide both education and training, there is a difference between them. We will organize the upcoming programs in light of that fact. Education aims to produce permanent change through imparting knowledge, while training presents a particular skill set. In HSR™ classes, participants are educated about survivors' needs, and their training is about how to meet them. Every organization must have both the heart (soft skills) and head (logistics) programs to produce the optimum humanitarian assistance response.
Education in 2021
In the up-coming year, the Foundation will present webinars involving responses from the Care and Special Assistance Team members and other agency responders to educate participants on lessons learned from the responses. In keeping with our educational traditional models, survivors from many workplace traumas will also present what helped and harmed them in the initial phase of the trauma. They will offer suggestions for improving future responses.
Training in 2021
In addition to the Foundation’s educational sessions, Aviem International will provide training on how our leadership team would organize and respond to each of the mobilizations presented. Participants will be encouraged to discuss how the models presented can be adapted to fit their specific company.
Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open.
-Sir James Dewar (1842-1923) Scottish Chemist
Before the pandemic, I believed the best training for humanitarian assistance required meeting face-to-face. The pandemic has led me to reconsider, and like most other trainers, I have learned to think differently. While I look forward to working together in person again, I am grateful that we have been able to conduct internet-based training and webinars this past year. In 2021, we will expand these efforts with additional training and educational opportunities, they will be forthcoming throughout the year.
And later, by partnering with the academic community, the Foundation will provide educational opportunities over distance-learning. Look for future updates and announcements on our new Institute, which will focus on international humanitarian assistance to workplace trauma.
Our need will be the Real Creator
-The Republic by Plato, 360 B.C.
In order to continue our programs, we have developed HSR™ Training for presentation over video-conferencing, including a Train-the-Trainer model. We look forward to working with all of our current certified trainers to help each organization continue its programs.
In closing, I will add one final comment. This past December, while celebrating Winter Solstice, I was reminded of what that special day is about. When the sun rose on that day, it symbolized the 'return of the light.' At Aviem and the Family Assistance Foundation, we join with each and every one of you in welcoming the light in the New Year—and look forward to better times ahead.
Dr. Gary Small's Mind Health Report, Volume 13, Issue 1/January 2021.