Headington Institute Spring 2016 eNewsletter
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Terrorism Impacts Our Work
Jim Guy

Photo credit: Man kneeling at memorial of San Bernardino shooting victims. Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times.

We provide counseling, training, and consultation services to aid workers and emergency responders, promoting their resilience and trauma recovery so they thrive and continue working. We’ve assisted thousands of responders helping victims of disasters and emergencies. But, terrorism is changing how we do our work.

Our services now include an emphasis on “risk environment psychology,” preparing responders to work safely in dangerous situations. By promoting brain resilience, we help them maintain mental focus and emotional stability. This increases good decision-making, self-control, and mission-readiness. Whether working in international locations near terrorist strongholds or responding to terrorist events in U.S. cities, responders use our support services to maintain their wellbeing and recover from trauma. Helping them cope effectively with terrorism is now part of our work.

Because we travel throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, we are security conscious in response to terrorism abroad. Our team is vigilant about their personal safety, and we use a variety of consultants “on the ground” before we travel to dangerous places. There are some places we can’t go (Syria), and other places that are safe one day and too dangerous the next (Iraq). We make travel decisions flexibly, based on information updated daily. We’re adapting our work to decrease risk, using online resources and remote services when necessary.

Recently, an FBI anti-terrorism expert told our board and staff to plan for an increase in domestic and international terrorism. He said our services will become even more essential, as responders help communities recover from acts of terrorism. This was true recently in San Bernardino, where we provided counseling and training for those responding to that tragic event.  

Regardless of what’s ahead, we will be there to help.
From the President
I recently heard a series of TED talks on Compassion. Given the work we do here, I was interested. The speakers pointed out that all world religions emphasize the need to be kind, caring, concerned, understanding, loving, and generous. The virtue of compassion is stressed in most cultures over many centuries. So, why aren’t we more compassionate?  

Of all the reasons given, fatigue is the most interesting to me. Compassion fatigue is found among humanitarian aid workers and emergency responders. After years of working against impossible odds, some become frustrated, impatient, and discouraged. They don’t stop caring; in fact, they often try harder, with even greater
self-sacrifice. Unfortunately, the harder they try, the less effective they become. It’s like exercising the same muscle for too long without rest:, you grow tired, begin to feel pain, and eventually damage the muscle.   

Our mission is to restore the compassion that first motivated people to become aid workers or emergency responders. By promoting personal and team resilience, and trauma recovery, we help them be compassionate while maintaining perspective, personal balance, and effectiveness.
                                                                     Thanks for helping us do this good work.    ~Jim
Welcoming Cori

This January, Cori Page joined the Headington team as Administrative Assistant to the President. Having received her Masters in Marital and Family Therapy, Cori has provided psychotherapy in private practice. Outside of Headington, she currently works as the Local and Global Partnerships Director for a community non-profit where she works to creatively build collaborative networks to meet the relational, spiritual, and physical needs of underserved populations. 

Her interest in supporting refugees and their service providers is what led her to the Headington Institute. Cori also enjoys painting, swimming, and spending time with family. We are pleased to have Cori as a new addition to our team.

Welcome Cori!
Psychology of Risk
Recently, a court decision found a 
respected NGO guilty of gross negligence for providing inadequate security training. Despite limited funding, humanitarian aid organizations must protect their staff. For eight
 years, the Institute has partnered with a large aid organization to develop a psychologically based 
hostile environment awareness training course (HEAT) now widely seen as the best-
practice model. This partnership has remained strong, and together we offer eight
 HEAT trainings worldwide annually. Two years ago, a second large aid organization
 adopted this training model, and we will provide eight trainings for them in 2016.
                                                                                                                         We hope others will partner with us to provide this essential training to their staff.

Since small aid organizations lack the resources needed to provide such comprehensive training, we have developed a one-day workshop on the psychology of operating in higher risk environments. Utilizing classroom instruction and simulation, we teach about personal stress signatures and share techniques for remaining under control in threatening security situations. While not replacing HEAT, this training gives basic tools to those deploying to dangerous locations.     ~ Don

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