The Garrison Institute offers resilience trainings for direct service professionals through our Contemplative Based Resilience (CBR) Project. These evidence-based trainings give social workers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, lawyers, social activists, and senior managers in these fields the chance to decompress while learning practical skills to improve their ability to manage chronic stress and avoid burnout.
In the United States, the CBR Project offers trainings for society’s “unsung heroes” – staff providing invaluable care to vulnerable and marginalized members of our society. These include the homeless; survivors of domestic and sexual violence; victims of child abuse; immigrants in need; those currently or formerly incarcerated; the chronically poor; and under-served communities facing crises and discrimination. We also offer trainings in leadership and resilience at the organizational level through our Women’s Leadership Program. For information on our international CBR offerings, please visit Garrison Institute International.
Vicarious trauma is a real risk for service providers, often compounded by long hours and heavy caseloads. Whether on the streets working with the homeless, taking hotline calls, accompanying clients to court appearances, sitting at a computer, or managing a complex team, they regularly bear witness to traumas they can neither predict nor control. What can be controlled, however, is their reaction to these stressors. Understanding the causes of vicarious trauma is important, but seldom enough to count the toll it can take on wellbeing. The CBR Project offers practical tools – including mindful movement, breathing techniques, meditation, and an understanding of the psychology and physiology of chronic stress, burnout, and vicarious trauma – that can be life-changing.
A large and growing body of research confirms that resilience skills can be learned; that training in the practices of mindful movement and meditation produces positive effects on physiology and behavior; and that these effects can be measured. The CBR Project is grounded in a strong, validated theoretical model, developed in partnership with internationally-recognized experts in the fields of psychology, trauma, meditation, and yoga, including Sharon Salzberg, the noted meditation teacher and author.
Through the program’s unique integration of psycho-social education, meditation, mindful movement and compassionate connection, participants in CBR trainings learn and practice the ABC’s of Resilience: Awareness, Balance, and Connection:
Awareness of the psychology of stress and its causes;
Balance through mind and body practices;
Connection with ourselves, with the people we work with and care for, and in our communities
As society faces the growing uncertainties and likely disruptions caused by the climate crisis, our “unsung heroes” will be among the first responding to the needs of those directly impacted when environmental-related crises hit. Building resilience in social services providers and advocates is a smart way to help build resilient communities in the face of the climate emergency. As many cities and communities ramp up their efforts to create resilient systems, the CBR Project offers the complementary skills needed for community members themselves to develop and transmit the ABCs of resilience.
“When you see people suffer, and you are not able to give more, or alleviate their suffering, this feeling of helplessness, that what you are doing is not enough to help these people, creates even more stress.”
This program was a turning point in my life… If I will one day be able to win the battle I am fighting—to find my way to an everlasting peace and compassion—I want you to know that you will have created the hero of this battle.”
-CBR Training beneficiary
CBR began as a training for domestic violence victim service providers in the New York metropolitan area, and soon expanded to focus on the needs of international humanitarian aid workers. The CBR International Project for humanitarian aid workers is headquartered in the Netherlands through Garrison Institute International, and the US-based work remains based in Garrison, NY.
The Garrison Institute is a non-sectarian organization based in New York’s Hudson Valley, exploring the intersection of contemplation and engaged action in the world. Our mission is to apply the transformative power of contemplation to today’s pressing social and environmental concerns, helping build a more compassionate, resilient future.