(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — NEWS: The Things They Carry Project (TTC), part of New Directions in Writing, an offshoot of the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis, was launched in April 2021 to offer writing for resilience workshops to frontline Covid healthcare workers suffering the trauma of working during the pandemic. The project has helped over 700 participants from the US, Asia, Brazil, the UK, and the Middle East.
TTC was then adopted by the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, led by Anne Hallward, to offer a pathway to healing trauma for more than 1,100 refugees from 17 Middle East and Asian countries.
Now TTC has expanded to reach teachers, school librarians and counselors, and other school personnel, to help them face the stress of working through the pandemic and the increasing threat of school violence. The first workshop will launch August, 2022 and are staffed by therapists and some co-led by writers from across the country who have come together specifically to help our teachers and school staff.
A recent nationwide poll of K-12 employees have found that the vast majority reported feeling stressed (63%), high levels of burnout/fatigue (54%), and substantial anxiety (47%) at work due to the pandemic.
The Things They Carry workshops (www.thingstheycarryproject.org/) are led by experienced therapists skilled at working with people experiencing anxiety, stress and PTSD. If the title sounds familiar, that’s intentional: it honors Tim O’Brien, the author of “The Things They Carried,” a ground-breaking meditation on the Vietnam War, memory, and the redemptive power of storytelling.
The workshops are the brainchild of Kerry L. Malawista, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in private practice in Potomac, Maryland, and McLean, Virginia. Malawista is a co-chair of New Directions, which offers a postgraduate training program for clinicians, academics and writers who want to bring modern psychoanalytic perspectives to their work.
In launching the group for Frontline workers, Malawista said: “From them, I hear about the ghosts of the COVID deaths they carry, the patients they have treated, those who were lost to the virus and those who still haunt them. Like soldiers returning from war, they cannot close their eyes to all they have witnessed – the smells, sights and sounds of people who died while in their care. And sadly, like the soldiers that O’Brien memorialized, the ghosts often pursue them in their dreams…. Along with talk therapy, writing provides an effective pathway to process traumatic memory.”
On a national scale our teachers, librarians and school administrators have also been first responders.
Participants will learn a technique called “writing for resilience,” in which writing prompts will be offered to encourage them to explore their experiences in the classroom, helping them to delve into their meaning. Workshops will be held via Zoom.
Following the writing sessions, participants will have an opportunity to share what they have written, listen to other stories, respond to the group’s writings, and explore their meaning in writing and conversation.
“Writing in the company of others has special benefits,” Malawista said. “To have one’s experiences witnessed and validated by other writers has been shown to relieve isolation and create a sense of solidarity…. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the life stories they have heard in the course of their work, as well as on the ways they can keep themselves calm and strong.”
LEAN MORE AT: www.thingstheycarryproject.org/
Related link: newdirectionsinwriting.com/
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