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Caring for Others and Ourselves

Nearly 200 KCMH staff were in attendance at the "Caring for Others and Ourselves" training at the Fox Theater on April 12th. Social Worker Laura van Dernoot Lipsky presented on Trauma Stewardship, understanding how the stories of our clients impact us both professionally and personally. I had the pleasure of participating in a prior training with Laura (last October). At that time I was feeling a little "burned out," tired, and felt like our work could never be completed. Laura shared about this being a natural consequence of the work that we do and share with other professions (education, welfare, safety, etc.). She showed us that we are not helpless against these effects, that we can better care for ourselves. We can do that by intentionally being "present," grateful, balanced and responsible for staying off the "choo choo" train of gossip and negativity (among many other skills and concepts). As I listened to her I realized I really could positively impact my thoughts and feelings, and my behavior towards others. Her training "transformed" the approach I take in my daily life, both professionally and personally. For example, when I meet with my group of supervisor's each week if one of us begins to roll our eyes, or gossip, or complain about another person, team or division, one of us says "choo choo" (getting off that train) and we immediately stop that behavior. We are happier and less judgmental

In my personal life I have a 13-year-old Labrador who I just love. She is really having difficulty sleeping at night now, and so that means I do as well. Prior to the training I would fret about how tired I would be at work the next day after losing sleep, but now I am just so grateful that I still have a dog who can wake me up at night!

I hope those who attended the recent training learned the importance of taking care of yourself. In doing this we not only feel better, but we do no harm and in fact we may truly help others!

“It can be humbling to realize how much we have in common with those we attempt to help.” - Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

Trauma stewardship calls into question whether the means of exposure (direct or indirect, through relationships with those directly exposed) has any relevance to the impact of the trauma. Most of all, trauma stewardship calls on us to remember that it is a gift to be present when people deal with trauma; it reminds us of our responsibility to care and to nurture our capacity to help.

Rather than pathologizing those of us who experience these reactions at one time or another, she helps us to understand our feelings and behavior as natural responses that flow from our humanity. In the same way that oils splatter on the painter’s shirt or dirt gets under the gardener’s nails, trauma work has an impact.

Raising awareness and responding to the cumulative toll on those who are exposed to the suffering, hardship, crisis, or trauma of humans, living beings, or the planet itself.

-The Trauma Stewardship Institute Website

By Deanna Cloud

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