Monday, January 14, 2019

NEW CF WORKSHOP: Compassion Fatigue: Going Deeper - Trauma, Spirituality and Resilience

Every moment is a fresh beginning...

TS Eliot

Hello, Everyone! 

A slightly belated Happy New Year to you all! I'm later than usual with my first post of the year because I have been pouring my creative juices into one of TS Eliot's "fresh beginnings", a new workshop designed to follow the now familiar Caring On Empty: Creative Tools for Compassion Fatigue Resilience.  

After Christmas, what began as the light revision of an earlier, second-level CF workshop turned into the development of an altogether new workshop, Compassion Fatigue: Going Deeper - Trauma, Spirituality and Resilience. It will be offered for the first time February 1st for the wonderful folk at Canuck Place Children's Hospice and again on June 7th in the form of a multidisciplinary community workshop at the Granville Island Hotel in Vancouver.  I'm so excited to be taking our basic CF understandings just a little deeper!

Spirituality is at the forefront of trauma research these days. There have been more research papers written on the topic of spirituality and trauma resilience in the past 5-10 years than in the previous 100. Why? I'm not really sure but I wonder if a general thirst for authentic, healthy, personal spirituality; psychology's recognition that it has too often avoided the topic; and the realization that our current trauma treatment strategies are not always enough, haven't led us quietly but steadily toward this research focus. 

You will find the following description of spirituality in several (unattributed) places on the Internet:

Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves and it typically involves a search for meaning and purpose. As such, it is a universal experience - something that touches us all. We all have spiritual experiences, whether or not we label them as such. Some people describe these experiences as sacred (connected with the holy), some as transcendent (outside the range of mere physical existence), and some simply describe them as a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.

However we define or describe spirituality, we are learning that spirituality and trauma are often inextricably intertwined. Trauma affects our beliefs in the sacred/transcendent in ways that may interrupt or even jettison those beliefs. At the same time, or alternatively, trauma can affect us in ways that strengthen them. As a result, trauma recovery and resilience is inherently spiritual and must include a focus on our belief systems.

Christine Courtois, PhD, a respected, longtime complex trauma expert, says that a damaged spirituality is at the core of traumatic injury.  If this is indeed the case, we need to shine a brighter light on the role of spirituality in both perpetuating trauma and supporting its healing and resilience, something the field has been reluctant to do until relatively recently.

This new workshop is designed to introduce helpers to the topic of spirituality and trauma resilience and, through poetry, story, artwork, self assessment tools, mini-lectures and discussion, to help you to:

- Define spirituality, trauma and resilience
- Better understand the impact of traumatic stress on personal spirituality
- Clarify the role of positive personal spirituality in promoting resilience and vitality
- Reflect upon your personal state of spiritual wellbeing 
- Become better acquainted with a variety of practices found to promote spiritual wellbeing while working in high stress, high risk environments
- Consider ways of incorporating spiritual practices/activities in your personal resilience plan
- Review and use exercises learned at the Caring On Empty workshop to help you return to the Window of Tolerance during the day  

If you loved Caring On Empty, do plan to join us as we "go deeper" into our conversation about Compassion Fatigue resilience. (Registration brochures are available February 4 at

Or choose to bring this new and engaging discovery-based workshop to your own organization!