Webinar Introduces Mindfulness as Tool for Survivors of Interpersonal Violence

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As a provider, you know survivors of intimate partner violence may find it difficult to be fully present during meetings and groups due to their trauma history. Your staff may attempt to help survivors focus their attention on feelings or potential action steps but may not always succeed. Mary Ann Dutton, PhD, a mindfulness practitioner and researcher, says Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) may help trauma survivors and the staff who serve them.

The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health hosted a 90-minute webinar with Dutton in September 2015, titled, “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Survivors of Trauma: An Introduction.” The webinar provides information that helps organizations consider implementing mindfulness practice with staff and survivors. Though the presentation is a year old, it introduces a modality that is not widely practiced among survivor advocacy organizations.

Here are some highlights from the presentation:

  • Why mindfulness may be helpful to staff who work with adult trauma survivors. Staff who learn and practice mindfulness are able to be more present during their interactions with clients. Mindfulness can also help staff manage stress and the effects of secondary trauma.
  • Why mindfulness may be helpful in working with survivors of interpersonal trauma. Mindfulness is a tool from outside the mental health field, Dutton notes, and survivors often appreciate resources that don’t carry the stigma of mental health treatments like psychotherapy and medication. Survivors may also like how mindfulness practice is different from some traditional mental health interventions— it doesn’t involve the processing or re-experiencing of traumatic experiences.
  • When staff shouldn’t teach mindfulness to survivors. Clients who are experiencing suicidal, psychotic, or manic symptoms, or who are dependent on a substance, should not receive mindfulness instruction, Dutton cautions. Also, staff who are not mindfulness practitioners should not teach mindfulness skills to clients.

The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health asks visitors to complete a simple registration form to gain access to the free webinar.

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Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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