Alyssum's Staff, in addition to sharing learned knowledge, are also trained in the following:
- Intentional Peer Support
- Wellness Recovery Action Planning
- Conscious (non-violent) Communication
- Trauma Awareness
- Hearing Voices Curriculum
- Self-care and Wellness
- Meditation & Mindfulness
- Foot Reflexology
- Myths and Mental Illness
Following are some summaries of the trainings which the staff experience. We have included this so as to help create a picture of the Alyssum experience.
INTENTIONAL PEER SUPPORT
created by Shery Mead
Intentional Peer Support is a relational approach for enhancing mutual learning and growth. It assumes that as trust builds in relationship, we can begin to challenge each other to look at things from new angles, develop greater awareness of personal and relational patterns, and support and challenge each other as we make changes. IPS has been particularly useful in crisis programs to create a sense of shared power, mutual responsibility and a broader framework for thinking about what’s possible. In other words rather than just attempting to contain and stabilize we believe that crisis provides an opportunity for moving beyond.
IPS is different from traditional service relationships because:
• It doesn’t start with the assumption of “a problem.” Instead people are taught to listen for how and why each of us has learned to make sense of our experiences, and then use the relationship to create new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing.
• IPS promotes a ‘trauma-informed’ way of relating- instead of asking ‘what’s wrong’ we think about ‘what happened’?
• IPS looks beyond the notion of individuals needing to change and examines our lives in the context of our relationships and communities.
• Peer Support relationships are viewed as partnerships that enable both parties to learn and grow- rather than as one person needing to ‘help’ another. Instead of assessing and controlling one another, we use the relationship to find what will work for us both.
• Instead of a focus on what we need to stop or avoid doing, we are encouraged to move towards what and where we want to be.
At Alyssum, IPS is one of our core trainings. Learning versus Helping; Relationship versus the individual; Hope and possibility versus Fear; form the base for mutuality, sharing world-view, creating a connection and moving toward a new paradigm.
WRAP: Wellness Recovery Action Planning
created by: Mary Ellen Copeland
Strong values and ethics are the cornerstone of Mary Ellen Copeland’s work and Copeland Center trainings.
WRAP is a plan that puts the responsiblity into your own hands. There are steps to break down your life so you can see what really works for you, and figure out your warning signs before a crisis. By taking the time to look at events in your own life an individual is able to find a path/plan to stay well and avoid crisis.
There is an understanding of unconditional acceptance of each person as they are and the aim is to increase a feeling of personal empowerment and self-advocacy so as to improve the quality of life and success in pursuing and achieving goals.
Self-determination, personal responsibility, empowerment, and self-advocacy are expected outcomes of WRAP. It is based on the premise that there are “no limits” to recovery and is understood that you are the person who is developing this WRAP, and are the expert on yourself. You will empower yourself and decide who will assist and support you on your pathway of healing.
WRAP participants are treated as equals with dignity, compassion, mutual respect, and unconditional high regard. You will concentrate and focus on things you do well and look to your individual strengths, staying away from perceived deficits as determined by you or others. Peers are working together and learning from each other to increase mutual understanding, knowledge, and promote wellness.
Participants are given the opportunity to explore choices and options, and are not expected to find simple, final answers. It is understood that each person is the expert on her or himself. Difficult feelings and behaviors are normal responses to traumatic circumstances and what is happening in your life and need not be considered symptoms or a diagnosis. In this work, participants learn through their own experience and the experience of others.
At Alyssum, we work on creating a "WRAP" with guests who would like to develop more structure, support and awareness in their lives. Wrap is not only an excellent tool for life management and planning skills, it also helps to validate and support individuals on their path to wellness.
CONSCIOUS (NON-VIOLENT) COMMUNICATIONcreated by; Marshall B. Rosenberg, Phd
"All that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries about consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to maintain a perspective of empathy for ourselves and others, even under trying conditions."
Nonviolent Communication contains nothing new. It is based on historical principles of nonviolence-- the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart. NVC reminds us what we already instinctively know about how good it feels to authentically connect to another human being.
With NVC we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC helps us discover the depth of our own compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honor universal values and needs, every minute, every day.
NVC can be seen as both a spiritual practice that helps us see our common humanity, using our power in a way that honors everyone's needs, and a concrete set of skills which help us create life-serving families and communities.
The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.
Through the practice of NVC, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others. We will no longer need to use the language of blame, judgment or domination. We can experience the deep pleasure of contributing to each others' well being.
NVC creates a path for healing and reconciliation in its many applications, ranging from intimate relationships, work settings, health care, social services, police, prison staff and inmates, to governments, schools and social change organizations.
At Alyssum, NVC training has created an awareness about clearly identifying feelings and needs. Our trauma awareness has taught us that often individuals who have experienced traumatic lives, have not had opportunities to develop awareness of feelings and how they relate to needs. We work with ourselves and our guest to not only identify a need, but also to create enough self empowerment to be able to request having a need met. Mindfulness skills and peer support interact, helping with learning to observe the interplay of emotion and self care needs. Learning to safely understand needs, while releasing old fears and hurts, is the first step to developing the ability to make requests.
Trauma is an emotional shock that creates a significant impact on a person's mental and emotional wellbeing. We recognize that frequently it is what effect the trauma has had, how the trauma-survivor has made meaning and what coping skills were developed as the result is very important. Many times coping mechanisms, if seen in the light of trauma can be understood to be "normal" reactions to "ab-normal" circumstances.
The impact of violence and trauma varies — some victims may emerge from the experience relatively unscathed — others suffer long term devastating emotional and medical effects.
Individuals who have experienced trauma in their lives, and who have learned the skills necessary to manage their lives and their emotions, can be tremendous resources to others who are experiencing the consequences of trauma. Many of the Alyssum peer staff have trauma recovery experiences.
Trauma Aware means:
• Taking into account the impact of trauma and it's impact on interpersonal relationships.
• Understanding how coping mechanism are generated by trauma.
• Working to prevent retraumatization.
• Seeing trauma as an experience that can shape a survivor's sense of self, and world-view.
• Creating relationship and placing priority on self-empowerment.
• Understanding the dynamics of trauma and violence.
• Creating an environment that feels safe and nurturing.
At Alyssum, in addition to our own personal life trauma experiences, all staff are trained to be trauma aware. Through connection and dialogue with our guests we frequently look at world-views that have been altered and configured by traumatic experiences. Together we examine these views and look to create growth and new ways of relating in life.
Alyssum's Voice hearing training explores the nature of voices, which includes two classes and four phases. Staff explore and become comfortable with voices which result from trauma experiences, as well as voices which appear to come from an energetic shift which at time can lead to an extremely dissociated state (or psychosis). When voices are broken down into comprehensible experiences it becomes easier to relate to a voice hearer, to create dialogue and to be present in a positive and validating way.
MYTHS AND MENTAL ILLNESS
All Alyssum staff have explored the evidence of pharmaceutical benefits. (Please see Robert Whittaker's work). Alyssum's staff do not accept the terminology "mental illness", as we believe full recovery is possible. We believe that there is a place for pharmaceutical medications, but that they should be used with caution, and with a withdrawal plan in place to use as needed.
Alyssum staff have knowledge of various alternative healing techniques. Staff members bring their own personal experience and wisdom to the job with them. Between staff members we offer Reiki, meditation, mindfulness, body energy work, breath work, yoga, sound healing and nutritional awareness.