Last week we opened email inbox and were delighted by an email from Anna DeBiasi that began as follows. Hi Steve and Pat, I am in the middle of teaching my tenth RC course for Noank Group Homes (in Connecticut), and have added some things along the way that I wanted to share with you. What followed was a description of some challenges Anna had faced in training RC to agency staff and the innovative and creative ways she had used to meet these challenges. Our delight was on several accounts. First, the fact that Anna had done 10 trainings at a fairly small agency was amazing, illustrating how seriously Noank took the task of RC staff training and systematically implementing the RC approach. Second, we loved that Anna had started with the basic RC training outline and then creatively has made it her own. Finally, we love that she shared it with us so that we can share it with you, the wider community. We’re sure many of you RC Trainers out there are doing similar innovation, but we often don’t get to hear about it. THANKS ANNA FOR SHARING AND WE’D LIKE TO HEAR FROM MORE OF YOU.
Here is one of the strategies that Anna has integrated into her RC trainings. After participants attended the RC Basic Training, she frequently heard the following, “Well I think RC is a great approach, but I just wish it gave me more concrete things that I can do on a daily basis.” So, now they begin every training with participants starting their own list called “But, What Can I DO?”
So, at the end of each section they cover, they revisit the list and focus on pulling out specifics. By the end of the course they have a great list of things that they can focus on and try out after the training ends. The lists are also something that she can reference during supervisions and use to assess what areas should be the focus of refreshers or reminders.
Sample “But what can I do?” List
Remember the Trauma Framework
• Get to know what intolerable feeling look like in the girls body (i.e. pacing, knee moving, sweaty palms, crying, quiet, raised voice, etc…)
• Become aware of shame triggering situations and try to avoid them (i.e. driving big blue, lots of people at her treatment plan, talking about the group home in public, referring to staff as “staff” in public, etc..)
• Remember symptoms as adaptations- (brainstorm a better code word for self talk?)
• Embrace the assumption that they are doing the best they can (i.e. Don’t take behaviors personal) Learn and recommend/implement strategies to build self capacities
• Self Worth (See slides)
• Inner Connection (See slides)
• Feelings Management (See slides)
Remember the power of positive, safe relationships/connections • Have a deep working understanding of RICH (Respect, Information, Connection, Hope)
• Make it your goal to form healthy deep connections with each resident and to hold hope for them
• Maintain safe boundaries with the residents, and when in doubt talk it over with a supervisor or co-worker first
• Remember the four boundary dilemma questions: 1. Who would this benefit? 2. How will this impact my work with this resident and/or with the other residents? 3. Do I feel comfortable discussing this with my supervisor and/or documenting this? 4. Does this violate the agency’s code of ethics?
Vicarious Traumatization & Self-Care
• Learn about what VT looks like for you, learn to identify it before it gets too disruptive
• Learn about new self care methods, take time for yourself
• Discuss VT with your supervisor or co-workers Countertransference
• Learn what triggers negative responses in you, talk it over with your supervisor and continue your progress toward better self awareness.
• Use your intense feelings to increase your empathy instead of build your resentment toward the resident.