Institute Focuses on Resilience
"Resilience reflects that which characterizes a twig with a fresh, green, living core: when stepped on, such a twig bends and yet springs back.” George Vaillant
Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of disruptive change, stress, or trauma. It is a multi-faceted quality, like intelligence. There are many different attitudes, styles of responding, and ways of thinking and behaving that contribute to this ability to “bounce back”. Some of these are:
- Realistic optimism
- Good social support
- Active, problem-oriented, coping
- View stress as a challenge rather than a threat
- Confidence in your own ability to deal with challenges
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Persistent and not easily discouraged
- Sense of meaning and purpose
- Spirituality and a defined moral compass
A general ability to recover quickly and cope adaptively when things go awry (from an earthquake to a cancelled flight) is an important quality for humanitarian workers to possess, especially those working in crises situations.
However, the really good news about resilience is that it’s not a trait that people either have or don’t have. Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions, that can be nurtured and developed in anyone.
For example, research suggests that one of the primary factors contributing to resilience is caring relationships with family and friends.
During this Christmas season, take some time to consider your relationships. Are you happy with how much time and energy you have been investing in relationships that are important to you? Who have you been meaning to see, call, or write to?
Developing resilience is a personal journey, and connecting with others is only one of many strategies. As 2007 approaches, consider setting some personal goals that will help improve your resilience.
Also in the News ...
Highlights in 2006 ...
Headington Institute staff have:
Provided hundreds of hours of orientation, counseling, and debriefing to humanitarian workers.
Worked with humanitarian workers responding to the Pakistan earthquakes, the U.S. hurricanes, the Lebanon conflict, and refugee crises in Africa.
Conducted more than 20 workshops in 9 different countries on traumatic stress and humanitarian work.
Presented at international conferences in 3 different countries.
Published two free online training modules, and other resources.
Collaborated with LINGOS and CARE to develop the first ever interactive e-training program for humanitarian workers on stress.
Been featured in news stories by the NBC News, American Way Magazine, the Pasadena Star News and Among Worlds
Added 5 experienced clinicians to the Headington Institute Clinical Associates Team.
Seen the number of donors to the Institute increase 40%.
From the Executive Director
I’ll be 54 next week. While that sounds older to me than it feels, it does mean that I’ve been slow to appreciate the true potential of online education. It was hard to believe that we could have nearly the same impact using online training as in-person workshops.
Despite my reservations, our venture into this “virtual” world has been successfully led by Lisa McKay, our Director of Training and Education. The result has been a comprehensive collection of free training modules, assessment tools, and coaching materials available online to anyone, anywhere, anytime (www.headington-institute.org).
Thousands from around the world view and download these resources each month. In the past three weeks, top executives from two of the largest relief organizations independently told me that they consider our website to be the finest resource available for humanitarian workers interested in maintaining their wellbeing. That was unsolicited feedback meant to encourage us to expand this aspect of our work. While we continue to provide in-person training and consulting, it’s encouraging to know that our website provides a way to help thousands of relief workers we’ll never meet.
Jim Guy, President
New Year's Resolutions ...?
Personal goals are important, especially for those in the “helping professions.” If we know where we are heading, and what we want to accomplish, we live our lives with a sense of purpose and meaning. The end of a calendar year is a good time to reflect and reorient. Keep the following tips in mind as you think about making some new years resolutions this year:
Don’t make too many!
Get specific: Frame your resolutions positively, as goals.
Write them down.
Make a realistic plan: Educate yourself about ways to achieve your resolution. Marshall needed resources. Map out small, achievable, consistent steps that will take you towards your goals.
Headington Staff on the Move
It’s been a busy fall for staff here at the Institute. For those of you wondering where we’ve been lately, here’s a summary:
In September, Lisa McKay headed over to Africa to give workshops in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa and Jim Guy was in New York to work with Church World Service.
In October, Lisa headed to London to present at a conference hosted by People In Aid and dropped into New York to work with UNICEF.
Also in October, Dr. Laurie Pearlman facilitated a workshop in New York and flew to Geneva to work with ACT (Action by Churches Together).
In November, Dr. Jim Guy and Tabbie Mann headed to Bangkok to provide debriefing, training, and counseling to an international team of humanitarian workers who have spent the last several months working in Lebanon.
Bryant Myers Given Award
Dr. Bryant Myers was given the Headington Institute 2006 Award of Recognition for his many years of humanitarian service in international relief and development.
Dr. Myers received the award at the recent Headington Institute Board of Directors Retreat, where he was the keynote speaker. Dr. Myers served for more than 30 years with World Vision International, most recently as vice president for development and food resources. Earlier this year he retired from World Vision to accept an appointment as Associate Professor of International Development in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.
As he accepted his award, Myers spoke of the increasing complexity of the humanitarian context, the nature of the ethical choices that must be made “under fire,” and the disturbing reality that humanitarian aid has helped sustain some conflicts during the 1990’s. “The impact on the humanitarian worker,” Myers said, “is that they now have to become moral philosophers on the run. That is why organizations like the Headington Institute, who can help humanitarian workers recognize and navigate the personal moral minefields that come with this territory, are so important.”
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