Photo by Tony Cece

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday 7/28

Excitement permeated the air as our trauma team prepared to present our first official conference to approximately twenty-five Doctors, Psychologists, Social Workers, Nurses, Mental Health Workers and Administrators from in and around the community. Leaders and team members presented on Child Trauma, Modified Sand Tray, Compassion Fatigue, Critical Incidents and Implications for Medical Providers and Relaxation Techniques.
We presented our conference inside the Into Abba's Arms (IAA) chapel where we first introduced ourselves and in turn were introduced to these local professionals and the type of work in which they are involved. Several were working within the community as Mental Health Workers servicing populations such as unwed mothers, rape and incest victims, mothers living with HIV/Aids, teenage girls needing empowerment, abandoned children and children suffering from severe domestic violence.
It was clear very early during our first presentation, focusing on Child Trauma, that this community was filled with frustration and was extremely receptive to the issues surrounding child trauma; particularly PTSD symptoms, symptoms children exhibit during and after trauma and the treatment of children who have been traumatized. Heads nodded vigorously in agreement as we discussed the effects, of trauma in girls, boys and the difficulties this might cause within the family dynamic and school atmosphere. After a short break for "Kenya Tea" our teams broke into small group with approximately four team member per five professionals and discussed some of the issues these professionals are faced with on a daily basis. Discussions once again yielded stories of rampant physical and sexual abuse as well as pervasive domestic violence in which some workers feared for their client's lives.  
During the second half of the day theses professionals were elated as we discussed the effects of trauma on the brain. Heads nodded once again and it was quite clear that connections were being made about the information they were receiving and the clients they are seeing. We followed with treatment techniques for children in trauma, and in a very poignant moment a women asked, "How do you treat the child who is taken out of the home because of abuse and the father says he will not do it again and the child is put back in the do you get this child to open up, how do you help this child please?" The question was sobering; summing up a very common problem within this community. We followed this question by teaching the Modify Sand Tray Technique using stones to teach these administrators a rather simple but extremely effective way to get children and adults to talk about their trauma without fear and added traumatization. The session was incredible. The stones were used first to allow the professionals to tell their own stories and then in turn facilitate the technique on members of the trauma team to gain some experiential knowledge and practice. They were quick to note how helpful they believed this technique would be with the children they work with regularly.
What precious time remained was used discussing Compassion Fatigue and relaxation strategies they could use to help keep themselves both mentally and physically healthy in the midst of working in such a high risk/stressful environment. As a way to gauge their current stress level we asked them to rate their current stress level regarding their job by giving it a number between 1-10. We then continued to teach breathing exercise, muscle relaxation, a projective "safe place" exercise and Emotional Freedom Technique; a technique in which relaxation is achieved by tapping parts of the body and doing exercises that integrate right and left parts of the brain.  After the presentation they were once again asked to rate their stress level. EVERYONE who answered reported an extreme decrease in their stress level.
Once again we were politely beckoned to return and do more presentations within their individual communities. One woman exclaimed, "There is so much need for this here, please return." 

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