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Headington Institute Summer 2014 Newsletter
www.headington-institute.org
** We made a correction to Dr. Jackie Millham's announcement.
 
Debriefing in Dubai
 
Don Bosch


Photo by Brent Stenberg

Last April, Linda Wagener, Brent Stenberg, Jackie Millham and I traveled to Dubai for a team debrief and meeting for humanitarian aid workers who recently completed deployments in Syria, the Philippines, and South Sudan. To an outside observer, it probably seemed a bit odd to see a group of seasoned aid workers walking around in a conference room in Dubai taking various measurements of themselves. These included heart rate variability, blood pressure, waist to height measurements, oxygen saturation, and other body metrics. In addition, we provided them a check-list of different psychological signs and symptoms.

Why do all this? All of this data is related to the concept called
allostasis. While the science of allostasis and allostatic load is still developing, these measurements provided this team of international aid workers with a new lens and some practical tools to help them monitor their resilience levels both on and off of the field.  

At the Institute, we try to keep abreast of the latest research to help aid workers and first responders. The concept of allostasis deals with the complex interaction of the stress circuits of the brain and the multiple physiological responses that they initiate. In a nutshell, our brain and body are programmed to respond to stress challenges and do so in a highly effective and integrated way. However, when these systems do not shut down after the stress has been met, the initial adaptive response becomes maladaptive and can lead to multiple diseases and conditions. This is known as allostatic load.

Our humanitarian staff in Dubai were testing themselves with simple tools to help assess their level of allostatic load. Someday, we hope to have the technology to help them accurately and conveniently keep track of their psychophysiological states during deployments so that they can monitor their allostatic load and promote their engagement in more resilience building behaviors.
 
 


New Online Resources
 

Relationship Video Resource
Staying Close While Apart

Constant traveling and long separations that come with aid work can create unique challenges for humanitarian staff in sustaining the relationships most important to them. In this video, Jim gives some practical principles on how to maintain these relationships before, during, and after an assignment.

Resources in Arabic and French
In order to serve humanitarian staff working with the Syria Response, and in CAR, we’ve recently translated two of our self-tests in Arabic and French: How Stressed Are You and our Self-care and Lifestyle Inventory.

 
You can access these resources on our website: www.headington-institute.org
 
 
From the President

We've been asked to contribute to the "psychological" portion of the new "Mass Fatality Responder Manual" for the City of Los Angeles. This will be used to prepare city employees for a future natural disaster or terrorist event that could kill thousands. Grim but essential work, and we'll want our police officers, firefighters, and other responders to be resilient and emotionally prepared. So, we're bringing all that we've learned from humanitarian aid workers around the world and sharing it locally. We're also applying our growing field experience and research findings to develop a "resilient responder" training program that will equip emergency workers here and abroad. Although there's still a lot to learn, we're eager to share what we have with those we rely on for help in a crisis. In the coming months, you'll find new articles, blog pieces, videos, and training materials intended to promote emergency responder resilience and trauma recovery. We'll keep you posted on our progress in building the capacity of our local responders. Thanks for helping us take on this challenge.  -Jim


 
Welcoming Dr. Jackie Millham

We’re happy to announce that Dr. Jackie Millham has joined our team as a Senior Consulting Psychologist, providing training, counseling and consulting services with a special focus on team dynamics in cross-cultural environments. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than a decade of experience in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Jackie also has a rich humanitarian background as a former aid worker, including refugee work in Somalia and Thailand as well as numerous training engagements with international aid organizations. Since 1989, Jackie has also been the co-founder and director of an international nonprofit addressing children at risk in Kenya. Jackie has already dived into work, traveling to Dubai with  some of our clinical team members last month, and going to the Philippines in June to support humanitarian staff working with the Haiyan response. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor recreation, travel, gardening and hiking. Welcome Jackie!
 
 
 
 
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