Lighthouse Institute, an Australian attachment and trauma informed ‘Knowledge Centre that draws on 21 years of practice at Lighthouse Foundation, recently visited us at Pathways to deliver their trauma informed training program. Lighthouse Institute has been commissioned to provide attachment and trauma informed training programs across the country to support organisations working with those who are taking part in the difficult process of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The 2-day program was delivered by Helen Lenga, a qualified psychologist who has specialist training with children and families and who has over 30 years experience working in the field of trauma as a psychotherapist, trainer, consultant and supervisor.
Along with attendees from Kids Matter, Good Start, Bush Kids, Kids ELC and Stellar Lives, we were fortunate enough to attend four sessions concerning trauma and trauma informed practice, including ‘Understanding Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Practice’, ‘A Trauma Informed Approach to Understanding Grief and Loss’, ‘Understanding Psychosocial Development’ and ‘Understanding and Working with Trauma Based Behaviour’.
The vast wealth of knowledge and advice that Helen was able to share with us will indeed impact on the way we work with services, parents, children and communities in the future. We would like to thank Helen, Lighthouse Institute and all of the attendees for making the event so informative and invaluable.
Tired of Twitter? Fed up of Facebook? Well you’re not the only one.
Social media is becoming more of an oxymoron every day. With new research suggesting that our obsession with devices can negatively affect our ability to read emotional cues in other people¹, it seems that now is the time to detach from the ‘media’ and focus on the ‘social’.
Try swapping one of your digital habits for one of the activities below and take the time to reflect on how the experience differed to the one you usually have with your device.
1) Swap Angry Birds for Hungry Hippos. Play cards not apps. Choose board games over virtual worlds. Ok, you get the message. Blow the cobwebs off those board games and arrange a good old fashioned games night with your family or friends. Use this opportunity to model and teach your children how to deal with failure and success; show your child how to bounce back from a wrong answer rather than resorting to blame or quitting the game altogether. How often do we get these opportunities to teach such a valuable social and emotional skill?
2) Post a letter rather than a status or pic. Even better, write a gratitude letter and then hand deliver it to your deserving recipient. Martin Seligman’s groundbreaking work on positive psychology has found that writing and hand delivering a gratitude letter increases happiness. In his book ‘Flourish’, Seligman asks his readers to ‘call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could meet face-to-face next week.’ He then challenges you to write a 300 word letter to the person, specifically stating what the person did and how it affected you. Once written, call the person and arrange a visit, but be vague as to why you want to see them- the surprise element makes the experience all the more fun! When you finally get to see the person, read the letter word for word. Take the time to notice how you both react to the letter and try to manage any interruptions that crop up; ensure that they get to hear every word and understand why you are so grateful. Seligman believes that this simple act will make you happier and less depressed within one month of making the visit.
Social media has enabled us to acquire online catalogues of photos and videos that, if privacy settings allow, can be shared and viewed by the whole world. Gone are the days when we’d have to carefully remove the roll of film from the camera, travel all that way to the shop to get them developed and then painstakingly stick each picture into an album. Although the speed and ease that modern technology has afforded us is wonderful, have we lost something else in the process? When was the last time you looked at your holiday pictures on anything but a LCD screen? Why not take that memory card out of your camera and get a few of your favourite pictures printed. Then arrange an evening with some of the subjects in those photographs and take the time to talk about the picture and remember the moment it was taken. Or take out an old album from years ago and plan a reunion. Whatever you choose to do, try to make it sociable, fun and face to face.
For more ideas visit wwww.socialseptember.com for a full calendar of ideas.
Imagine a pit a hundred metres long, of deep, thick and sticky mud with an uneven bottom. This ‘Mud Mile’ Tough Mudder challenge was my favourite, where personal connections are made, slowly traversing the mud pit together. Much laughter, smiles and friendly taunting, all engaged in doing something quite uncomfortable and difficult.
What a challenge of this type does is place groups of people outside their comfort (and often skill) zone. The Mudder is advertised and trumpeted as, ‘Not a race, but a challenge.’ Very clever. Join as a team. No timing chips. Get your Tough Mudder orange headband and a beer or can of Solo at the end. Then watch them come together to push, drag, lift, yell at, carry and generally support each other over, under, through all sorts of dirty, cold, muddy, claustrophobic and electric challenges.
The aim is not to hurt yourself, but to do something to extend your comfort zone. This choice builds a buffer against stresses. You build self-awareness, now knowing you can do more than you thought you could. More possibilities open up in your mind. Trusting in the assistance of strangers and your team invites trust and social cohesion. With the benefits of exercise for brain, body and mind thrown in as well.
If your level of fitness is sound I strongly recommend you consider taking up the challenge. Using our Wise Mind, the Tough Mudder is a resilience building activity par excellence. Especially keep your attention focused on increasing your self-awareness of body and breath, and on the earth beneath your muddy shoes.