SEA’S Mental Health: Healing, Growth and Support
SEA’S Mental Health: Healing, Growth and Support06-Apr-2013
As we enter into spring, we are reminded of the newness of life. The blossoms begin to bloom on the fruit trees, the light of day is longer, and a new energy is emerging. Within our SEA Mental Health Department, we feel that new energy as we look back at this past year’s experiences of accompanying psychological and social work interns as they discover the new world of SEA, as we begin to establish our first round of staff trainings for SEA staff to assist them with emotional/relational skills to deal with pain and trauma, and as we face the challenge of developing our first mental health curriculum.
The journey with the interns was intense and yet fulfilling. As we reflect back, we feel a sense of gratitude to those Universities (University of Southern California, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Loyola Marymount University, California State University LA, and Cal. St. Dominguez Hills University) who referred their students to SEA and to those interns who responded. We were privileged to accompany 15 interns as they walked with victims of violence and were fortunate enough to experience their growth as they practiced and developed their clinical skills. Through our weekly individual supervision sessions, our monthly group sessions, and our ongoing trainings, we witnessed and listened to the personal and professional growth that they experienced as they learned to listen, adapt and respect the cultures they had entered into (gang culture, Latino/a culture, African American culture) and were amazed at their willingness to learn.
As SEA staff we are asked to be agents of peace for violence exposed families. In that process, our challenge is to respond to anger, distrust and fear (which is rooted in the violence they are experiencing on the streets and/or in their homes), in an adult non-violent manner. This can test and stretch us in many ways. We must learn to be healers as we struggle with our own personal issues. We must learn to set personal and relational boundaries. We must take our communities from a state of powerlessness to empowerment.
As we develop trainings for SEA staff, our goal is to assist in developing the emotional skills that will lead us to be the agents of peace for our students, clients and families.
Sr. Elisa Martínez, MSW & Fr. Stan Bosch, Psy. D.