10 things I learned from working with traumatized and exhausted people...

05 October 2018

10 things I learned from working with traumatized and exhausted people...

A lot of my work prior to joining Traverse has focused on unpicking difficult issues around delivering services to “vulnerable” and “hard-to-reach” people. I’ve played host to, and participated in, many emotional discussions with traumatized and exhausted people (myself included) about the systems that have traumatized/exhausted them (with a general focus on how to make things better). This was usually in the sectors of social care and mental health and involved working with service users and a wide range of professionals - from front-line support workers through to multiple levels of charities, local authorities and policy makers.  

We’re all busy so I’m going to keep this brief.

Here’s “10 Things I learned from working in Co-Production settings”

  1. Trust is key – be a person who is relatable, show who you really are – participants often feel small and intimidated, ease that. We’re all just people in a room (think about power dynamics)
  2. We (facilitators) are translators in both directions (participant to client, and client to participant)
  3. Treat sessions as a shared learning opportunity, not an engagement, consultation or research opportunity – you stand to learn plenty too, especially as a dual translator!
  4. Empower the participants – give them ownership of the process (bring objectives, not activities – though have a session plan as a back-up plan just in-case they don’t know what to do – let them choose/not choose activities/processes)
  5. Let the group voice their distress – engage with it and let them see that is it being heard and taken seriously, do not be dismissive regardless of how you feel or what you want to get done
  6. Be open to genuinely connecting with participants and letting your guard down, be vulnerable and reflective if you expect them to be too
  7. Be clear and keep things simple – leave plenty of room for just talking, it’s therapeutic as well as productive, this is added value that should (usually) not be stifled
  8. Make sure you follow up and tell them exactly, and truthfully, what’s being done with what they gave/will give. Make yourself available for de-briefing.
  9. Lead with negatives before moving onto positives – never push a person in distress to view something in a positive or structured way before they’re ready, they set the pace
  10. Body language matters, and it’s usually unconscious. Try to be conscious of it, do some reading!

Chloe Juliette, Consultant

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