“Being able to dream is recovery on its own.”  These are words that glued to me.

In a field often associated with best care practices, do’s and don’ts, and “always been done this way” doctrines, it is easy to detach from the basic healing properties of our own profound and human selves. In an era of heightened chatter, heaviness and reactivity, it is often easier to take the role of commuter rather than conductor, and while riding along can give us a sense of letting go, it is often easy to forget where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going.

As a response to these characteristics and the barriers they can place on front line workers, Brian Dean Williams, a therapist, workshop leader, and meditation facilitator shared with us a variety of multi-functional practices, internal recognitions and mindful connections back to the self throughout his 2-day training on Trauma-Informed Practice. Teaching us that by successfully connecting with ourselves we can effectively connect back to the people we help.

On the first day of this 2-day training series, we explored Trauma-Informed Practice: Co-creating Safety and Choice for Survivors, the following are 3 of my major learnings from the first day of this CAEH training opportunity:

 

Understanding Trauma

Trauma is a working definition. As stated in the training, trauma is “a socially constructed disintegration of our ability to connect with our physical, mental, interpersonal, and emotional world. A result of an adverse event or events that interrupt our ability to cope, at a neurobiological and interpersonal level.” For many, especially in cases of colonization, displacement or removal from family and tradition; trauma can be a shared experience of disconnection from self, while healing is the entity of re-connection.

“Trauma-informed care encourages support and treatment to the whole person, rather than focus on only treating individual symptoms or specific behaviors.”

 

The Power of Choice

During our training, we were presented with five principles of Trauma-Informed Practice (find in the CAEH Training 5 Day 1 Trauma Informed Care PowerPoint), with Choice, Collaboration, and Connection as one of them. This principle stood out to me as it informs front line staff that despite our best intentions, all processes should include a foundation of autonomy and personal control for those we assist.  Trauma-Informed Practice provides a collaborative approach to client services by integrating feedback and customization. As stated by Brian, by leveling power relationships and, “being transparent about areas where we can’t,” we can carefully create an environment of trust and respect.  

 

Limitations of TIP? Looking past TIP

While Trauma-Informed Practice and Care can provide a client with trust, control and safety, it has often been criticized for only treating half of the equation (the individual), while leaving out the broken systems, policies and practices that harbor environments of trauma in the first place. “There is a risk of focusing on the treatment of pathology (trauma), rather than fostering the possibility (well-being). Everyone wants to be happy not just have less misery.”

 

If the answer is in healing our collective environment and focusing less on trauma itself, then where do we move on from here?

 

A simple answer to this question would not give justice to our very unsimple reality. However, working toward new paradigms of society and healing can help. Brian’s final teachings of the day poked at the idea of collective change and surfaced the opportunity of Healing Centered Practice.

From this discussion, the quote, “being able to dream is recovery on its own,” stood out to me. For me, dreams signify hope and each of our birthrights to hope. These words offered me permission to envision my dream society as one where every single individual is given the opportunity to live each day thinking past their basic means of survival.

 

A society that can dream is a society I hope we can all one day be a part of.

 

Below is the video playlist from day-1 of Brian Dean Williams Trauma-Informed Practice: Co-creating Safety and Choice for Survivor’s training session.

 

On February 8, 2019 I was lucky to be among about 30 colleagues in the work to end homelessness in Greater Victoria who spend the day with Brian Dean Williams learning about the brain, mindfulness, our selves, and how to best support each other. This was the second of a 2-day training Brian delivered in the community as part of the local CAEH Training series sponsored by the Government of Canada and coordinated by the CRD and the Coalition, with the assistance of a community steering committee.

As someone who has experience work-related burnout before, and who used mindfulness in my long recovery, I was excited to learn more. I’ve also, over the past few years, become wary of the terms “burnout” and “self-care,” as it seems they have become commodified, Instagram-able, and somewhat empty words. When Brian talked about moving our focus from “self-care” to “we care,” I knew I had found someone who was speaking to the kind of work that keeps us filled up and moving forward.

Most people who work in the social services sector do so because we genuinely care about other people. The less we feel able to make a real difference for the people we serve, and the less power we feel in our day-to-day jobs, the less satisfaction we feel in the work, and the more we edge towards emotional exhaustion.

When you throw in a big dose of trauma (which CAEH Training 5 Day 1 Trauma Informed Care talking about) – whether vicariously through client’s shared stories, or personally experienced in the course of life and work – it’s a wonder many of us last as long as we do in this sector. What Brian’s reframing of self-care allows is another avenue to satisfaction: taking care of each other as a way to take care of ourselves.

As you click through Brian’s Presentation and watch the video playlist (below), you’ll see there was much much more to the day than I’ve shared here. We shared in both sitting and walking mindfulness meditation. We talked about ways to bring mindfulness into our daily lives to keep from “flipping our lids.” And we got to know each other in the room as compassionate beings who can hear and share each other’s needs in a way that makes a difference.

And that, it seems, may be the ultimate self-care – listening to another in a way that makes a difference for them, and in so doing fulfilling our own need to contribute and co-creating a supportive, human, and humane work environment.

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH), funded by the Government of Canada and in partnership with the Coalition and the CRD, is offering free training in Victoria from October 2018 through February 2019. Topics for training were identified through a survey of Coalition membership, and all community members interested in learning about ending homelessness in Greater Victoria are welcome to attend.

Each day will run from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, and will include breakfast, two snack breaks and lunch. Registration is required.

PAST SESSIONS

Harm Reduction in a Housing First Context

  • Friday, October 5 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm)
  • Trainer Kale Hayes
  • Thank you to those who attended
  • Presentation details coming soon

Housing First for Women

Housing First and Outreach

Housing First and Youth/LGBTQ2S Inclusion

Trauma-Informed Care and Burnout Prevention

Housing First in an Indigenous Context

  • Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 (8:30 am – 4:00 pm)
  • Trainer Betty Edel.
  • Local Indigenous teachings and support by Respected Elder Shirley Alphonse, T’sou-ke Nation.
  • Thank you to those who attended
  • Download the presentation:


The 2018 edition of Creating Homes: A Community Guide to Affordable and Supportive Housing Development is now available on our website.

This toolkit for navigating community concerns is a living document that will continue to be updated as new research and best practices emerge.

To provide feedback on the guide, please email our Community Development Manager.

The 2018 Greater Victoria Point in Time Count (PiT) is a count of people in the Captial Region experiencing homelessness. A Point in Time count provides important data for service planning and delivery in our region – it lets us know how much and what kind of services are needed. The more complete the PiT Count is, the better we can plan, resource and serve.

PiT Details

  • The PiT takes place across the Capital Region on Thursday March 15th, 2018 from 11:00 am to 11:59 pm.
  • The PiT includes
    • people in emergency shelters and transitional housing,
    • people who are sheltering out-of-doors (in tents, doorways, or vehicles),
    • people in public facilities (e.g., hospitals or correctional facilities) with no fixed address.
  • A broad range of community agencies and partners are working together on the count, including:
    • local municipalities and the Capital Regional District,
    • Island Health,
    • homelessness service providers,
    • local police services,
    • other housing and social service agencies, and
    • people who have experienced homelessness.
  • The PiT is funded by the Government of Canada through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, and the same methodology is used across Canada.
  • The CRD has contracted the Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) to coordinate the count.

Volunteer

More than 200 volunteers will be needed to successfully complete the count.

Volunteer applications are being coordinated by Volunteer Victoria. Volunteers sign up for one or more 3-hour shift and attend a two-hour training session in advance of the event.

Volunteers must be 19 years of age or older to participate.

To volunteer please complete an online application. If you have any questions about volunteering please contact Betty Leitch at betty@volunteervictoria.bc.ca or call 250.386.2269.

In Crisis?:

If you require urgent emotional support, including having thoughts of suicide and other mental health issues, please call Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888.

Youth (under 25 years of age) may access youthspace.ca for online emotional support.

For other resources, including shelter availability, visit bc211.ca