Facilitating Growth Through Adversity- The M.O.V.I.N.G model-201O

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A lecture presented in the international conference of Trauma, Resilience and Growth, Nottingham University.

Nurturing a sense of connectedness, hopefulness and meaning are key factors in promoting post-traumatic growth

Using stress as an engine to growth (Joseph, 2008), instead of trying to "get rid" of the stress, can expand resources for maintaining emotional regulation, hopefulness, and a sense of meaningfulness.

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  • Trauma also involves loss of self and of one’s sense of place in the world The stresses of immigration can intensify pre- and post immigration trauma
  • Selah two-three day retreats are tailored to meet the needs of different immigrant target groups including: Bereaved parents, widows/ers, wounded survivors of terror attacks, grandparents raising orphaned grandchildren and siblings raising orphaned siblings . The retreats combine nature excursions, social and cultural activities, trips providing a historical perspective, as well as a variety of supportive workshops . The program is named “MOVING experiences”, highlighting the idea of moving through uncharted territory- moving in relationship to oneself, others, and the world .
  • Example – Tanya (names have been changed to protect identities) lost her son Vladik in a sniper attack some three years after her immigration from Belarus. At first she did not want to live. Luda, a volunteer whose son had been killed three years earlier, provided her with a role model for living. As Tanya told: “It was the first time I met a woman with the same fate. I saw a woman who was alive, who wants to continue living, working, eating; a woman with her two feet on the ground. At that moment I understood that I would actually live.” When Tanya became an active Selah volunteer several years later, she visited other bereaved families. Telling of her first volunteering experience, she related: “I heard a bereaved mother saying, ‘I don’t want to live.’ I clearly remembered how I felt exactly the same way. I spoke with her about how I had felt and how I continue to live. I believe it helped her, just like what I heard from Luda helped me .” Tanya also recounted the benefits of the processes she experienced in Selah seminars: "At home I cry alone, so that my husband won’t see. And he does the same. In the seminar we cried and laughed together without being judged or criticized. The tools I received afterwards in the volunteer seminars helped me in dealing with my own grief. They are tools for life and not just for helping others in crisis: learning to listen, to reach out, and to share. When I give strength to others, I take strength from it. What I do as a volunteer is my own self-psychoanalysis. I never stop thinking of Vladik. When I share my experience, I keep his memory alive ."
  • In what way was it meaningful for you ? What is it like to revisit that here? Where have you been moved or taken to in your thinking as a result of that experience? What difference has it made in your life ? How are you seeing things a bit differently now? What difference does it make to be able to see it that way ?
  • I will focus today on two of these elements- meaning reconstruction (the re-authoring of life narrative) and the connecting to nature
  • Encounters with others who had “been there” and are struggling with similar circumstances - There is some evidence that posttraumatic growth may be promoted by exposure to models of PTG -other survivors that have experienced growth (Weiss, 2004 ). The survivor volunteers offer a unique perspective as well as hope as to the possibility of leading a meaningful life in the wake of loss . Trips to actual places and of getting to know the country and its geography and history . For many of the participants, this is the first time they visited these places or left their homes. Specific trips are often recalled in detail years after the retreat and described as contributing to reconnecting to the land, cherished memories, and meaningful stories, as well as experiencing personal loss in a wider context and a broader perspective. Shared journeys can enhance a sense of belonging and open new routes for meaning Bonding to the land (illustration)- A sense of belonging . Compassionate Caring - Contributing to others is an important part of the process of reconstructing meaning - A sense of purpose- a sense of worth being able to help someone. a sense mission .
  • Expressive arts –Using multiple modalities (movement, drama, music, expressive writing etc) enabling each person to discover his own preferred channel of communication and way of translating himself to himself and to others (Pardess, 2004 ). The creative process is critical to the healing process (Roger, 2001. 163 The physical activities and mind-body exercises were also mentioned as contributing to the sense of relaxation, balance and vitality. (Tai Chi, Yoga, martial arts therapy, and movement therapy are incorporated in the program .) Gradual transition from passive to active engagement . Participants take an increasingly active role in generating ideas
  • Scientific research provides support for benefits of nature experiences (Franklin, 2001). Spending time outside when the weather is nice, boosts positivity, broadens our mind and expands our range of vision (Keller & Fredrickson. 2005). Numerous studies have demonstrated how imagining nature scenes can reduce anxiety and help alleviate depression (Singer, 2006). “ People who spent twenty or more minutes outside when the weather was nice showed the predicted boost in positivity” “ "Being immersed in nature carries both fascination , in that is draws your attention involuntarily, and vastness , in that it provides sufficient scope and richness to fully occupy your attention” (Fredrickson. 2009).
  • Bonding provides a sense that one is cared for and valued, a feeling of belonging and connectedness, a “secure base” from which one is able to explore and engage in the “relearning” of oneself and the world . Mutual supportive bonds are formed during the group activities extending far beyond the group meetings. The sense of belonging and being part of a community is most important in the process of reconstruction of meaning in the aftermath of trauma This networking is most important during difficult times which trigger the most painful memories such as holidays or anniversaries when loneliness is heightened, security crises, terror alerts, or after major terror attacks .
  • Capitalizing on, nurturing and expanding resources Enhancing hope /belief in natural processes of recovery and in the innate developmental tendency toward growth
  • In the “Classroom of Nature ” Crossing boundaries of culture Metaphors Provide a “Holding Environment ”: Metaphors create a safe space for sharing that maintains distance, reducing the risk of retraumatization and feeling overwhelmed . The language of metaphors crosses language and cultural boundaries The use of metaphors (and analogy) promotes a depth of meaning and emotional resonance, validating the grieving person's experience Metaphors from nature are often offered spontaneously and can be elaborated in a way that can contribute to hopefulness regarding natural processes of healing and trust in the innate capacity for growth (Pardess, 2004 ). Stretching" the expressive power of language
  • Nature Imagery - A spurt of vitality out of the wounded part of a tree ; In the aftermath of trauma, dormant potentials of growth may be realized . Nature can provide models of PTG in a way that can contribute to cultivating a belief in one's inner resources / Innate capacity for regeneration Through metaphors such as a burned olive tree or the exposed stumps of eucalyptus trees out of which new branches and leaves were growing, important messages can be conveyed such as : Grief is a natural process; healing does not occur overnight; healing processes know their own course; evidence of the capacity of plants and trees to heal themselves is seen all around us; the healing process is often concealed from the eye, occurring below the surface, even when it appears that there is nothing happening . Nature can provide models of PTG in a way that can contribute to cultivating a belief in one's inner resources , strengthening the belief that within each person is a natural ability to heal and an innate capacity for regeneration All individuals, families, and their communities have strengths, resources, and the ability to bounce back from hardship Re-awakening to the world beyond oneself
  • Throughout history, individuals have identified with trees “ Hanging on ” – How can we make use of metaphors that participants often offer spontaneously ?
  • In a workshop up north we stopped by a tree whose underground roots had been exposed and were intertwined by the side of the path. “We don’t always have such an opportunity to discover what goes on beneath the surface,” said the botanist talking about the setting down of roots (without psychological interpretations ) Opening space for contemplation, reflection and sharing
  • Survivor Guilt – An obstacle or pathway to growth ?
  • Identifying one’s survival skills and having these acknowledged Discussing metaphors from nature offers a culture sensitive non intrusive way of conveying empathy ( as well as psycho-education as to stress management etc )
  • De-pathologizing problem saturated discourses of “trauma ” The lack of manifest growth – leaves or flowers- " is not an indication of mal-health or a "problem" to be addressed Growing new roots is an important dimension of growth, but it is important to remember that dislocated plants need at least some of the ingredients from the former soil to keep the past roots alive. Success of transplanting depends on the reestablishment of a spreading root system . Plants must quickly establish or reestablish a spreading root system on the new site to minimize susceptibility to stress and assure survival Stress after transplanting, often called transplanting shock , All newly planted trees will be subjected to stress until a spreading root system has developed . Establishment After Transplanting The establishment period can be defined as the period required for a plant to grow a normal root system. During this period the plant is susceptible to extreme stress. The length of the establishment period is affected by many environmental and cultural factors. Growth rate also provides an indication of stress (Figure 3 )¡.. Growth will slow immediately after transplanting and recover to pre-transplanting levels as the root system regenerates and stress is reduced .
  • “ In most plants, the root system is a below-ground structure that serves primarily to anchor the plant in the soil and take up water and minerals. Roots may be less familiar than the more visible flowers, stems, and leaves, but they are no less important to the plant . Roots play an important role in life. They serve as organs of attachment, anchoring the plant to the ground, and also as organs of absorption and transport for water and dissolved salts. Roots which survive the winter contain food material (e.g., starch) which will be used by the developing shoots in spring “ when transplanting established plants we take care to lift them from the ground with their root system … ”
  • “ The successful establishment of transplanted trees is dependent primarily on the reestablishment of a spreading root system” Watson, G. 1986. Cultural practices can influence root development for better transplanting success. J. Environ. Hort. 432-34. ( This concept is relevant not only in the context of immigration. The experience both of trauma and bereavement entails identity disruption- a sense of being uprooted from one’s self, community and life) Back to our initial question- How can we –in our support programs- provide an optimum environment that will promote the emergence of “latent constructive forces”?
  • Telling about significant figures in their life Listening for the shared values, the self transcending ideals that are implicit within survivor’s expressions of anguish. Noticing and acknowledging ways in which survivors have carried on these shared ideals. Making it possible for survivors to name these ideals. Inviting survivors to tell stories about the social histories of these ideals, where they come from and with whom they are shared. Creating contexts in which survivors can contribute to the perpetuation of these ideals. (Den borough & White, 2010) Inviting survivors to talk about significant scenes from nature from their past- memories that evoke positive emotions
  • Cultural sensitivity to differences in the ways people from different cultures cope with loss and trauma can be enhanced by narrative practices such as “reflecting” teams, and exploring one’s “landscape of identity” (White & Epston, 1995 ). De-pathologizing discourses of trauma Avoiding mental health terminology like “therapy,” “patients,” or “clients ” Bereaved parents often describe finding strands of continuity in nature and sources of comforting connection and reconnection with their loved ones . The crucial role of continuing bonds has been underlined by past research ( Klass, 1996 ) Routes, Roots and the Reconstruction of Meaning- Contemporary grief theorists (Attig, 1996;Neinmeyer,2000) focus on grieving as a process of "relearning" the world and the self, finding a new existential grounding for one's self concept and life direction .
  • The tree of life programs - Exploring one’s narrative - Ways of withstanding the storms of life Various dimensions of their current growth And how they might like to grow in the future
  • Shared journeys creating new memories
  • (“ When you talk in your native language, it’s a different feeling ”
  • “ The successful establishment of transplanted trees is dependent primarily on the reestablishment of a normal spreading root system on the new site. This process can be slowed by inadequate site preparation and difficult sites. Root growth is naturally slower in colder climates . Larger trees have larger root systems and take longer to regenerate after transplanting ”.
  • Facilitating Growth Through Adversity- The M.O.V.I.N.G model-201O

    1. 1. vFacilitating Growth Through AdversityA Multimodal Program for Supporting Traumatized Immigrants ,Eleanor Pardess, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist SELAH- Israel Crisis Management Center .Psycosocial Responses to Trauma, Resilience and Growth, Nottingham University 1.7.2010 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    2. 2. Outline• Background- The Selah model• Nature-based workshops• Roots and regeneration- Illustrations• Building bridges -Practical Implications 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    3. 3. The SELAH ProgramTarget groups: Emergency• Grandparents raising outreach followed by a orphaned grandchildren. multimodal model• Children coping with of support sudden death of family member.• Siblings raising their younger siblings. 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    4. 4. The ChallengesImmigrantsCoping WithTraumatic LossUprootedness-Disruption of continuity, identity, culture shock, isolation 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    5. 5. Moving through Uncharted TerritoryMoving through Uncharted Territory 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    6. 6. The ResponseA Network of Support MOVING Encounters combining:• Nature-based workshops• Expressive arts• Narrative practices 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    7. 7. From Recipients to Supporting OthersFrom Recipients to Supporting Others 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    8. 8. The M.O.V.I.N.G. ModelLearning from the survivor volunteersParticipants• Bereaved parents or injured survivors of traumatic events• Active volunteers ( 3-8 years) supporting the newly bereaved and injuredMeasures• Post-traumatic growth inventory (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1995)• In-depth semi-structured interviews:Meaningful experiences?In what ways have you been moved?What difference has this made in your life? © 2010 ,‫פרדס‬
    9. 9. Facilitating GrowthThrough Moving EncountersKey factors:MeaningOpportunitiesValidationInvolvementNatureGroup 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    10. 10. M - Meaning MakingRe-authoring life narratives through:• Shared Journeys• Exploring the “Landscape of Identity”• Bearing Testimony• Compassionate Caring 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    11. 11. O - Opportunities“Space for individuals to express themselvesin a way that strengthens them”“Opportunities to identify and tap into theircoping skill…”•V - Validation“Being touched by unique, authentic, and personal reactions of othersHaving ones vulnerability acknowledged as well as strengths.Experiencing others presence and genuine interest in life left behind..”•I - Involvement•Expressive Arts/Writing•Movement•Gradual re-engagement 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    12. 12. N - Nature - RE-CONNECTING“Spending time outdoors”“Connecting to nature”“Connecting to oneself and to one’s natural resources” 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    13. 13. G - Group – Weaving ConnectionsNurturing a sense of belongingBuilding community 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    14. 14. Moving Encounters in NatureILLUSTRATIONS FROM WORKSHOPSSurvival Dislocation Roots Regeneration:Workshop Structure •Outdoor Activity MOVING .Moving in relation to oneself, others and the world •Creative activity •Sharing RECONNECTING To oneself and to one’s resources, to community, to the . country, to nature and to life •Closure 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    15. 15. Harnessing the transformative power of imagery and metaphorEnhancing hope and belief inlatent constructive forces ofrecovery and growth 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    16. 16. Nature provides endless opportunities to identify survival skills and toobserve cycles of life, change and regeneration 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    17. 17. IllustrationsRoots provide anchoragein weathering thestorms of life 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    18. 18. Illustrations The reconfiguration of root systemsAn overlooked dimension of growth through adversity“When the roots of a tree hit a stone, do they try to shove itaway or crack it? No, They grow around the obstacle…The stone may slow downThe progress of the treegrowing for a while but no stone,no matter how large, can stopa tree from growing" Reflecting on the struggle of the roots and rocky paths - Hagoshrim Selah Retreat, 2005 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    19. 19. Illustrations Reconfiguration of root systems “Some of these obstacles stay“a permanent part of thepsyche, just as the stonessurrounded by tree rootsbecome part of the tree ..andactually support and strengthenthe root structure of the treewhile new roots grow and movefar past the stones into newterritory “Matsakis, A. Survivor Guilt. New Harbinger 1999 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    20. 20. The search for meaningScarcity can promoteextensive root development;The human struggle withadversity and the absence ofanswers to our existentialquestions, can precipitate asearch for meaning. 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    21. 21. SURVIVING “TRANSPLANT SHOCK”• Learning from expert botanists about the vulnerability that can be caused by root loss;• Most transplanted trees are subject to stress-related problems due to tremendous root loss when dug out of original soil.• Survival- A tree’s chance of survival and regeneration can be drastically improved through practices that favor establishment of the root system. 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    22. 22. Illustrations SURVIVING “TRANSPLANT SHOCK” Keeping Roots Alive• Dislocated plants need some of the ingredients from the former soil to keep the roots alive 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    23. 23. Illustrations Reframing the absence of manifest signs of growth“Uprooted plants first invest their energy in developingroots.During this stage they do not grow leaves or produceflowers or fruit, as that would be a waste of energy”Zvia Shapiro, BotanistPosttraumatic growth is not only the manifest growth –the leaves or flowers, but also the reconfiguration ofthe root system. 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    24. 24. Illustrations Developing practicesDeveloping practices that mayfacilitate building bridges betweenpast, present and future, restoringa sense of continuity through the“re-establishment of a strong rootsystem:•Narrative practices•Expressive arts/writing•Movement therapy- Grounding exercisesApplications to other populations 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    25. 25. Re-”membering” Conversations- Narrative practices-Bridging continuity & integrating past and new roots:Inviting survivors to tell stories from where they comefrom. Keeping roots alive and connecting tonourishing memories – “Such memories can comfortus, lift our spirits, and connect us to what is mostimportant to us” 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    26. 26. Re-membering Conversations “Saying Hullo Again”Acknowledging pain as a tributeto what is preciousWhite (2007). 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    27. 27. Programs for Children & Adolescents 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    28. 28. Illustrations Trees Bearing Testimony - Stories waiting to be toldPrograms for Children & AdolescentsCombining Expressive arts andNarrative Practices. 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    29. 29. Creating new memories 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    30. 30. DiscussionFacilitating growth in group work with immigrants-Practical guidelines:•Language•Culture•Encounters with“otherness”•Building bridges betweenpast, present and future 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    31. 31. ReferencesDenborough, D. (2009) Collective narrative practice: Responding to individuals, groups and communitieswho have experienced trauma. Adelaide: Dulwich PublicationsFosha, D. (2002). Trauma Reveals the Roots of Resilience. Constructivism in Human Sciences, 6(1&2),p. 7-15.Fredrickson, B. L. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking research reveals how to embrace the hiddenstrength of positive emotions, overcome negativity, and thrive. New YorkJoseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2006). Growth following adversity: Theoretical perspectives and implicationsfor clinical practice. Clinical Psychology Review, 26, 1041-1053.Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2008). Trauma, recovery, and growth: Positive psychological perspectives onposttraumatic stress. Wiley: HobokenPardess, (2004). Moving Encounters- A Multimodal Model of Facilitating Post-traumatic Growth.Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, Toronto,CanadaPardess Eleanor (2005), Training and Mobilizing Volunteers. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment andTrauma. (10) no 1Pennebaker, J. (1990). Opening up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions. N.Y,. Guilford.Shalif, Y. (2005). Creating care-full listening and conversations between members of conflicting groupsin Israel: Narrative means to transformative listening. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 24(1), 35-52Shalif, Y. & Leibler, M. (2002). Working with people experiencing terrorist attacks in Israel: A narrativeperspective. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 21(3), 60-70White,M.(2007). Maps of Narrative Practice. New York, W.W. Norton 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬
    32. 32. ThanksE-mail- epardess@gmail.com 2010 ,‫© פרדס‬

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