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The Strength Within- Supporting our EAP CIR Teams

Still, a very fresh memory.

In response to the Sandy Hook shooting, I received a call from an EAP call center to check my availability to provide onsite EAP CIR. During the description of the incident, the counselor broke down into tears. He apologized repeatedly while he tried to get through the discussion. I listened, assured him it was ok and normalized his reactions. He said they have been getting so many calls about this. I asked him if he needed to take them all or if he could take a break from them. His response was "I'll be alright", cleared his throat and changed the topic back onto the case to finish the referral. Now I was in tears.

One call, one moment. Sometimes intense, sometimes routine, but they always come. We all have a story.

We have to take care of our own. All this work we are providing for others. The calls we take on a daily, sometimes hourly, even on a back to back basis will take its toll. The things we see, the way we experience them in the aftermath of an incident last forever (or at least so far...). Nonetheless, we are committed and we get through it without compromise. The tragedy, loss of life, potential life changing trauma shared with us, however, can be a source of great personal distress and potential for secondary trauma. What are we as individuals and organizations doing to minimize the impact of secondary trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout to our CIR team and EAP professionals providing highly visible, critical services?

With great resilience, individuals providing this service move forward. We are all alike in that way. Sometimes we dismiss its impact only to feel some level of discomfort later or at a time when we least expect it. A growing irritability, disrupted sleep, avoidance, intrusive memory, unexpected tears during seemingly unrelated circumstances have become our private badges of this occupational hazard. We connect to our inner sources of strength and move forward. Organizations can also play a key role in creating an environment and culture that supports wellness and resilience. It starts with thinking critically of your organization, its culture, the policies that support resilience or contribute to its risk. We know much more about this and policies, workflows, and resources need to evolve.

Robert Douglas and Associates has developed a team support service designed to address the occupational risk of secondary trauma often experienced by EAP personnel. It offers support for those most exposed to indirect trauma andit starts with leadership.

Services include:

Leadership training (Required, 1 hour)- Can you imagine the defeated reaction employees will have if they were to learn that this training is only for them, leadership did not see a need to participate? Unfortunately this is too often the case in agencies that interface with a high degree of trauma related cases. This meeting/training focuses on organizational processes, analysis of risk/resilience in policy, and leadership skillsets that create and support a resilient culture.

Indirect Trauma Stress and Job Stress/Burnout Questionnaires- Designed by Dr. Patricia Fisher, PhD, the questionnaire provides baseline data on each employee's stress levels on workplace related risk factors. This data helps target known and unknow gaps on areas creating the highest levels of stress. Individual, team, and organizational results available.

Monthly Focused Resiliency Groups- One aspect of increasing resilience is confronting (talking about it) the adversity. These monthly support groups (min. 3) discuss the sources of secondary trauma within the work and aim at increasing both organizational and personal coping strategies resources.

Emergent Support (optional)- Groups can be offered on an as needed basis should there be a CIR of significant impact.

Start with an initial consultation to discuss how these services might work for your organization.

Services are provided in-person and/or virtual. Call 732-531-1226 for more information and pricing.

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