What can we do as facilitators when, at the moment of conducting a workshop, the group enters crisis, conflict or trauma?
The answer to this question was developed together with Aga Leśny, expert in outdoor and experiential education, basing something on theory and a lot on practice. We organized a 5 days seminar on this topic and obtained EU funds to carry it out. This generous support allowed us to invite and listen to the diverse experience of 25 trainers from 5 different countries in Europe (Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland and Romania). One of the relevant results was a kind of behavioral "algorithm" to face such a situation, with concrete steps and activities for the trainer and the group.
Crisis, conflict and trauma during training
facilitator may face situations of crisis, conflict and trauma whilst conducting a workshop. The purpose of this article is to give an orientation for the initial handling of some of such situations that occur live. https://epale.ec.europa.eu/en/blog/crisis-conflict-and-trauma-during-training-part-1
How to deal with TRAUMA during a training?
This article is a practical guide on how to deal with trauma during training.
The articles and “algorithm” are an outcome of the international seminar “Overwork the process” co-funded by Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.
How does coronavirus affect the body? The most common response is most likely fever, dry cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, etc. However, the concept of ‘body’ is much more than a physical mechanism. It is important to know everything about physiology and to follow your doctor's instructions, but the ‘body’ is more than just the physical aspect.
This is how Eugene Gendlin, creator of the Focusing® method, describes the body. He says, in general, that we live all situations with the body. Each of the experiences of our life is registered in our body. Our difficulties have a physical location in our bodies, we live our lives with our bodies, and we process any situation in an absolutely bodily way.
Focusing® includes the thought process and, above all, moves and gives meaning to its implicit processes. The implicit is what you still don’t know but that is on the edge of what you feel inside, a situation or sensation that at the beginning is nonspecific, which fails to put into concrete words and solutions. Your thinking and emotions is what you already know about your situation. However, there is much more implicit in your experience that has not yet been symbolized and that you don’t know. For example, if I ask you “what are your feelings or thoughts at this time?”, it’s very likely that your answer is the feelings or thoughts that you already know or are familiar to you. Why would you want to connect with them over and over if you already know them and have done enough?
Many times we have an idea of what disturbs us in life. Others, it is just a vague annoyance to which it is difficult for us to put into words. With Focusing®, we can transform this vague feeling into a well-defined "felt sense" with which we can work, dialogue and open ourselves to other processes of psychological development in your life. In the principles of Focusing®, it is considered that you have Talent and Strengths that through a conversation focused on listening, empathy and authenticity by the Focusing® Trainer (psychotherapist or coach), you can find your own new and effective answers to move forward in achieving your goals.
Focusing® was developed by Eugene Gendlin, PhD. who, from his research, concluded that people who make a successful change had at first a vague sense difficult to describe. They made an inner awareness, a bodily sense of their problems. Whether a person can pay attention to what he called "felt sense" or "sense of the situation" turns out to be a key component of successful change processes. Scientifically proven, from the implicit process you can learn more about yourself and fully develop your Talent and Strengths. For positive, lasting, meaningful and sustainable results over time, you need to pay attention to your implicit process.
In the current context, fear, anxiety, trauma, financial worries, day-to-day problems, etc., can affect your health, your relationship with others and the achievement of your goals. We have had to comply with the physical distance or be physically separated, maintaining a distance of at least one meter from the others. I invite you to take a productive break and be present in your body in a different way, explore what your "felt sense" is and, from there, be with your whole body in closeness and cordiality with yourself and with others, and from there to propel your adaptation or change.
A global vision of health requires that each person think and recognize the implication of their daily activity in their health. We must be aware of what the mental, emotional and behavioural attitude can do for health, as well as we can take care of and enhance this attitude. For example, doing physical exercise, to learn and reach new goals, maintaining individual commitment to personal ethical values, establishing relationships of trust in a stable way with others people, maintain communication with loved ones every day (preferably by video conference), perform other activities (reading, music, watching series, painting, learning to cook, etc.), or practice personal growth activities (relaxation, meditation, sense of humor, etc.).
Now with COVID-19, staying at home may be an external obligation or an expression of our altruism. With this last attitude, external demand becomes our motivation, that is, the obligation to stay home may be from the authorities, but it is I who decides to follow it, it is I who agree to comply with it.
My search in scientific publications about pandemics and well-being, I found no results which tested whether mandatory versus voluntary quarantine has a differential effect on wellbeing. In other contexts, however, feeling that others will benefit from one's situation can make stressful situations easier to bear. Probably this can also happen for home-based quarantine. If we think that quarantine is helping to keep others safe, including those particularly vulnerable (such as those who are very young, old, or with pre-existing serious medical conditions), can only help to reduce the mental health effect and adherence in those quarantined.
I think it is also important that we are genuinely grateful to those who stay at home and comply with all the precautions. In the case of the authorities also and that they also deliver adequate information on how to keep people safe. In other words, it would be unacceptable to ask people to self-quarantine for the benefit of the community's health, when while doing so they might be putting their loved ones at risk. So far, I have found no national or global plans to strengthen well-being of people, families or communities.
References: 1) Brooks, Webster, Smith, Woodland, Wessely, Greenberg, Rubin. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, Volume 395, Issue 10227, 14–20 March 2020, Pages 912-920. 2) X Liu, M Kakade, CJ Fuller, et al. Depression after exposure to stressful events: lessons learned from the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic. Compr Psychiatry, 53 (2012), pp. 15-23. 3) P Wu, Y Fang, Z Guan, et al. The psychological impact of the SARS epidemic on hospital employees in China: exposure, risk perception, and altruistic acceptance of risk. Can J Psychiatry, 54 (2009), pp. 302-311.
We have developed sophisticated forms of cooperation that increase our chances not only to survive, but to progress and flourish. We have rational, emotional, social and spiritual reasons for optimism about the future. Do not to confuse optimism with naivety or denial of reality, since being optimistic does not imply denying the problems that reality presents, but assuming its existence and defining action strategies based on hope to face reality and transform it. Health does not depend only on physical values, but also on the attitude with which people face life. If faced with stress-generating situations, optimists tend to experience less negative moods than pessimists, which manifest itself in more adaptive health behaviors and a better immune system.
Through our memory we can remember events that we have experienced. We tend to think that we remember more if these events occur very frequently. But memory occurs for reasons other than the number of times it happens. For example, when we experience only one event in a traumatic way, the brain overestimates the probability that it will recur and we remember it much more. Right now, many people are trying to survive COVID-19 and many have lost their lives. The death of many people with a tragic end, we can live it in a traumatic way. One step to take care of your health may be not to assume immediately that this is the destiny that awaits you. To keep your health away from trauma, depression and anxiety, think that tens of thousands of people are recovering. Try not to live in the worst-case scenarios of COVID-19, and always remember that statistically speaking, most people have a good chance of overcoming the pandemic without showing minor symptoms of the disease.
In addition, the predisposition towards the negative must be stopped, it negatively affects your mood and opens the door to providers of bad news or who offer solutions through fear. Do you spend a lot of time consuming information about the corona virus? You wonder, will I catch the virus or when will the crisis end? Is an economic crisis being created? Everyone can have their say and make guesses, but no one really knows the exact answers to these questions. Hence, it is important to differentiate risk from uncertainty. Uncertainty implies unknown possible outcomes, and therefore unknown probabilities. Risk involves possible known outcomes and probabilities that we can estimate. The risk is not particularly terrifying, as it can be managed. Uncertainty, on the other hand, is scary, because it is not manageable: we cannot measure the probability and the impacts of the unknown.
COVID-19 is more of an uncertainty than a risk. It is natural to try to turn uncertainty into risk by filling us ourselves on the available information. We think that if we know enough about something, we can accurately assess how much we are at risk. But all that is a useless exercise. The information we now have about the corona virus is incomplete. In an effort to apprehend risk, we have simply been filled with more uncertainty. And after a few hours of doing that, we will be more anxious and depressed than when we started. So what you do know is that you are alive and well right now, so you will take advantage of this day's gift.
Good and bad things tend to happen at different rates over time. Negative things, like this pandemic, can be a rapid outbreak. Good things, like the advances that science has made, happen gradually and over a long period of time. I remember when I heard about HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s. In 1995, much had already been learned about and the first generation of medicines kept infected people alive. There were 15 years of suffering. This also happened with Smallpox (3,500 years of suffering), Ebola (five years of suffering), typhoid, measles, polio and whooping cough, etc. Much progress has been made and the speed of success is increasing.
Related to the above, there are people who are aware of the progress that science has made in the past, but who underestimate the ability to change and adapt in the future. If a negative situation is extrapolated to the future without considering our ability to adapt, the result is a disastrous scenario. For example, if we extrapolate government deficits, in twenty years we will be bankrupt. If we extrapolate a recession, we will soon be bankrupt. All of these could be reasons for pessimism if no change or adaptation is assumed in the future. There is an error in this thinking, given our long history of change and adaptation.
Recommendations on telework and family life abound in the context of quarantine. You will surely have read or listened to some guide such as establishing routines, defining a physical work space, reserving several times of the day for family leisure and spending that time with the children, etc. Neither of these suggestions is completely effective. Probably your productivity will drop by half compared to your best days and with more dedication than usual.
It seems convenient to start by lowering our expectations and that of your company. You have to explain your working conditions frankly to your company so that the threshold of your professional activity is adapted to this context of forced and sudden confinement. It is very likely that there will be moments of anxiety, frustration and overwhelm, so we must modulate our sense of professional responsibility and accept from the beginning that job performance will decrease. The risk of not doing it is reaching a greater effort and exhaustion, which will fall on us in the future.
Time in front of the screens
We can face this circumstantial situation if we are more flexible in matters such as the time that children spend on screen entertainment: television, Internet and video games. These days it will go up a lot, and teleworking parents will be able to do very little to prevent it.
Do the job together
Children want parents to pay attention to them and to share their time with them. They will feel cared for if they work alongside us. Homework time is another good time to demand silence and attention. While they do schoolwork or paint, we can attend to occupations that require little concentration such as checking and sending emails or even making a call.
Explain what your work consists of in simple words. For children, watching you work at home is curious for them, at the beginning they will have many doubts and questions and they will want to see what you are doing. It is best to let them see and observe what was a mystery to them before COVID-19.
Give them activities that take up a lot of time
A good strategy is to give them activities that will entertain them over a long period of time. For example, putting a children's feature film on them, combining the screens with creative games that they can perform alone (puzzles, crafts, experiments), a hot bath, etc.
Work while they sleep
Probably children will set the daily schedules. The best way to advance work is to take advantage of the first hours of the day, the last hours of the night and any other time when they are relaxed.
Give them responsibilities
Children can feel useful and get out of boredom by giving them chores around the house, such as cooking, cleaning, or tidying up the house. We can also take advantage of the quarantine time so that they begin to assume new responsibilities, such as preparing breakfast, making their own bed, folding their clean clothes and keeping them in their places, etc.