May 15, 2014  — Categorized in:

Healing the Hurt: Enhancing Resilience in the Wake of Trauma

Drs. Robert Abramovitz, Roni Avinadav, and Jacob Ham

Drs. Robert Abramovitz, Roni Avinadav, and Jacob Ham

As part of Mental Health Month, today the MHA-NYC and the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) led a dynamic symposium that educated human services professionals who work closely with clients who experienced past trauma. Targeting a breadth of traumatic experiences, specifically related to children and young adults, the half-day event introduced attendees to practical ways in which they can effectively serve, connect with, and empower clients who are survivors of some of life’s unfortunate challenges. Survivors often continue to undergo the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual effects of trauma long after the experience ends. Prominent experts in the field of trauma, Drs. Robert Abramovitz and Roni Avinadav, served as keynote speakers.

In a thoughtful presentation, Dr. Abramovitz encouraged a range of professionals, from clinicians to case managers, to address trauma symptoms and behaviors in ways that make clients feel safe and engaged. “Survivors of traumatic experiences usually don’t understand that there is a connection between behavior and/or traumatic exposure,” said Dr. Abramovitz. “As human service professionals, we need to ask ‘what happened to you’ as opposed to ‘what’s wrong with you,’” he said. Dr. Avinadav delved into the topic of secondary trauma and why it is increasingly important for professionals to remain resilient and optimistic through self-care techniques. “If you are feeling depleted and burnt out because your client’s traumatic experience is taking a toll on you, be sure to seek help so that you can be your best self for your client,” Dr. Avinadav warned.

Dr. Jacob Ham led an interactive question-and-answer segment just before the attendees broke out into smaller workshops. In a more intimate setting, workshop speakers shed light on the benefits of being fully aware of trauma and life-changing ways to cope with its effects in the workplace.

At the close of the event, assistant Commissioner of DYCD, Mike Bobbitt, charged the audience with one task. “Take what you learned today and continue the conversation with your colleagues and staff at your respective organizations,” he said to over 100 participants from more than 50 community-based organizations in New York City. “Trauma impacts us all,” he ended.

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