RELEASE: SELF-CARE FOR TRAUMA WORKERS

RELEASE: SELF-CARE FOR TRAUMA WORKERS


Jacqueline España: When I started working
with survivors of torture I was only 19 years old so I was a youth myself which was really
incredible, it was a really incredible way to grow and to learn, but it also took–I
had to check myself, it took a certain amount of–I needed a lot of support. When I was
pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work I started working with survivors of torture.
I got this amazing internship and I was working with mostly African immigrants as a counselor.
I helped them connect with educational resources if they needed some thing like English classes
or just with any goal setting that they needed we would work together and build a relationship
to you know find what they needed. Laurene Dominguez: I am the coordinator of
the S.A.F.E. Place here at San Francisco State. I came into this field because I wanted the
world to be a better place. You know I wanted you know at a very basic level I wanted people
to be able to be in a place where they could reach their fullest potential. What I realize
is that dealing with crisis and trauma work that is probably one of the biggest barriers
that prevents people from reaching that potential. David Inocencio: The Beat Within is a couple
of things, it is a wonderful program that has been around for 17 years. We go and do
writing workshops inside juvenile and from the workshops in juvenile we produce these
amazing publications that bring together the community of young people who find themselves
in detention. What I once did was of as more you know I think in outside more in the trenches
work it in the community with the young people with not just in juvenile but if there was
working with young people at Hunter’s Point or Visitation Valley or the Mission or Tenderloin
I was–I was really hands on as an advocate. Creating To Beat Within I am no longer you
know I’m where necessary for me to be in the trenches in that same capacity and feeling
the way of and that’s what I felt was the way that if the young–I am working with this
young person in the community I feel most responsible for him or her to succeed and
make it. Laurene Dominguez: Any time you are kind of
engaging with other people I feel like you are at risk of if I carry this trauma or compassion
fatigue, there are a lot of you know terms out there for it, you are basically bearing
witness to what they are being traumatized by. Jacqueline España: My first day of actually
seeing clients I remember looking in their files because somebody else would do an initial
intake interview and then I would see them, so there was this one file full of information
and it just you know was pretty detailed as far as what trauma each person had been through,
I just after seeing the first one it was just too much for me, it was just like I started
crying, I went to the bathroom I thought you know like who am I to be to with this person,
you know, what am I going to do for them, this is so intense. Laurene Dominguez: Burn out in this field
is really high. So this self care piece is really critical. You know somebody leaves
the room and it’s just like you feel like you’ve kind of just picked up everything they
brought in. David Inocencio: We’re dealing with a lot
of young people who have dealt with a lot of violence in their lives and are dealing
with death and they are dealing with you know abuse and just a lot of tragedy you know,
have seen someone die in their arms or seeing someone beat their mother to death or a best
friend that’s no longer there had died at 14, 15 years old. I took the work very, very
serious until I told you earlier by the time I was 30 years old I had a couple of ulcers,
so they would just beat me up. Jacqueline España: This is just what I used
to take notes like one I did interviews with the little kids in Kenya on our scholarship
program because nobody had just like a basic assessment so that’s kind of when I found
that a lot of them were struggling with abuse. We went from school to school, we worked with
principals to help them have them help us launch a poster contest with the kids. They
produced some pretty graphic posters, it was pretty upsetting to see these images but clearly
really important for the kids to express that. Laurene Dominguez: I think its important that
you definitely if you are using the medium that is your own, like if you are an artist
and you paint a lot and you utilize that in your work I think its really important that
you create a space where you can really be creative and its remains something that’s
important to you because I felt less stressed because I am actually doing the breathing
work and meditation with the clients at the same time and it’s a way of being able to
do my own self care. Jacqueline España: When I first started going
to yoga I didn’t really know what was happening but I would want to cry a lot in this one
pose and its called Pigeon pose where half king pigeon you basically fold your entire
body on to itself with one knee bent and its really beautiful because your face is kind
of hidden from the world so you can feel really protected and it was in those moments that
you know sometimes just all these thoughts would bubble up and they would come out and
I would release them and I would tear up and start crying and I didn’t really know if that
was okay until one teacher said you know by the way if you are feeling a lot of emotions
right now let them out which was very important to unwind just sort of let myself feel what
I was feeling. Laurene Dominguez: Part of it is not being
so hard on yourself is a form of self care you know and being able to really assess what
you can incorporate and what you’re already doing that’s you know helping you know in
terms of like you know eating three times a day or making sure you go out at lunch and
you actually breathe air and don’t stay in office like all of those things are different
forms of kind of doing self care. David Inocencio: One thing that is definitely
been my greatest outlet is collecting records, I mean if I can escape and dig in records
for hours. I also enjoy writing and writing not to write for blog or write for the beat
or write for my life story but just get thoughts off my chest because I mean that’s what I
am telling the kids to do in juvenile instead of carrying that pain I usually get it down
on paper and I feel a lot better. Jacqueline España: Something else that I
think can be really powerful is keeping what is called a visual diary. Everything went
into this book like everything I was feeling and thinking, I would even like little pieces
of wood or even dead butterflies like it was just a free for all dump of my brain and what
I was experiencing. Most importantly it’s a release and it’s a way to know what you
are thinking. Laurene Dominguez: People have to take inventory
of just their own life and how they carry stress and kind of where they are at in their
level of stress and then figuring out realistically like how can they incorporate things to how
deflate some of that but making it realistic is really critical. David Inocencio: The kind of mentoring that
I was given I saw it working and because that had inspired me to continue to improve on
my skills as an advocate as a mentor as an elderly teacher. Jacqueline España: I am definitely going
to keep doing this work because I feel really motivated by the people that I worked with,
so the privilege of building connections with survivors is motivating me to do what I can
and to play any role that I can to further their mission which is really gratifying for
me.

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