Humanitarian relief and development work takes place in an often stressful and frequently traumatic environment, which can create an enormous psychological burden for the workers – and result in a similarly negative impact on the organizations that employ them and on the beneficiary populations they seek to serve. Appropriate psychosocial support is not only important for the staff members themselves, but also for the beneficiary populations they are working with, and is thus integral to achieving an organization’s objectives in the field.
While many organizations acknowledge the need for such care, far fewer have developed effective programs or devote the necessary attention and resources to this issue, and many existing programs focus on treatment, rather than prevention. A conducted by the Garrison Institute established the need for psychosocial interventions for workers in this field that are not aligned to any one religious tradition, yet permit for the integration of individual inner strengths in fostering resilience to, and recovery from, traumatic emotional experiences.
To meet this need, the Garrison Institute developed Wellness Project and the expertise of a team of internationally recognized experts in psychology, trauma, meditation, yoga, and educational pedagogy, including Sharon Salzberg, the noted meditation teacher and author, whose work on loving kindness and compassion guided the project., a proactive psychosocial intervention that fosters resilience and thriving. We launched the first pilot of this program in July, 2013, and are expanding these trainings domestically and internationally. To develop the CBRT program, the Garrison Institute drew on its own experience with the
The Garrison Institute is pleased to offer this white paper, which integrates findings from more than 280 interdisciplinary research studies linking contemplative practice and resilience.
Download The Human Dimensions of Resilience
A great way to support this program is with a scholarship donation for aid workers to attend future trainings.
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“She Builds Resilient Communities,” by Teri Sivilli, Devex.com “She Builds” series, March 7, 2014. “Aid and development workers routinely get vaccinated for infectious diseases. But what can they do to inoculate themselves against some of the biggest occupational hazards of field deployments: stress and burnout? ….. Along with [a] growing awareness of the problem has come an emerging focus on building resilience as a solution…. The ability to bounce back derives from specific physiological traits and psychological habits and perspectives…. Those things can be identified, understood, and taught – and potentially learned – by anybody.”| Read more
Building Resilience for Humanitarian Aid Workers, featured in the Garrison Institute blog. During times of conflicts and natural disasters, humanitarian aid workers aim to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity. Aid work is compassionate in nature, but can take an emotional toll on the providers. Working in difficult circumstances and constantly witnessing the suffering of others places humanitarians in environments of chronic stress. Programs that pro-actively address the stress of this work on the physical, mental and spiritual levels are rare. The Garrison Institute is taking an innovative approach to changing that, developing its Contemplative-Based Resilience Training (CBRT) program to build resilience that provides tools for humanitarians to take into the field, so that this work can be generative rather than exhaustive. | Read more
Diana Calthorpe Rose, Director, Transforming Trauma Initiative
Sharon Salzberg, Co-founder and Creator
Teri Sivilli, Program Manager, Contemplative-Based Resilience Training Program
Barbara Lopes Cardozo
Thaddeus W.W. Pace
Gayla Marie Stiles