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Oct 27 2009

Event Audio

Covering Trauma in Latin America

Trauma Support for Media Professionals

In a panel at the 2009 workshop "Covering Violence: Trauma and Journalism in Latin America," clinical psychologists and trauma experts Elana Newman, Jack Saul and Marta Chinchilla review proven techniques for remaining resilient in the face of trauma.


Colombian psychologist Marta Chinchilla addresses the workshop of Latin American journalists ...

Colombian psychologist Marta Chinchilla addresses the workshop of Latin American journalists at Columbia University. Chinchilla and other clinicians agreed that while journalists are resilient as a group, they can benefit from learning what supporting factors are effective.

In the third public panel at the Dart-sponsored workshop "Covering Violence: Trauma and Journalism in Latin America," clinical psychologists and trauma experts Elana Newman, Jack Saul and Marta Chinchilla reviewed proven techniques for remaining resilient in the face of trauma. The workshop was held at the Columbia Journalism School in New York City on Oct. 13 and 14, 2009.

Download or listen (in English) to Dart Center Research Director Elana Newman of the University of Tulsa and Jack Saul, director of the International Trauma Studies Program at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health

 

Dart Center Research Director Elana Newman opened her discussion of trauma support for journalists by emphasizing the importance of destigmatizing traumatic reactions: “Resilience is the rule and not the exception.” With that, she turned to personal skills, professional support and external factors proven, both by academic research and by her own clinical work with journalists, to promote resilience. Effective personal skills and professional support included:

  • Finding meaning in work
  • Having hobbies outside of work
  • Social connections to others
  • Approaching stress looking for growth
  • Dealing directly with stressors
  • Getting enough rest
  • Having networks of safe places
  • Reaching out to others
  • Talking about trauma
  • Seeking social support
  • Reducing hassles that are under your control

Newman also identified programs and other external factors that journalists need:

  • Peer support
  • Mentoring
  • Positive editors
  • Cross-agency support for journalists
  • Opportunities to talk about work

International Trauma Studies Program director Jack Saul, drawing on his own experience as a family counselor, emphasized the importance of looking at trauma as a communal, not just an individual, phenomenon. He reinforced four themes for community resilience:

  • Reestablishing social connections and building new connections
  • Telling our own stories of violence and resilience
  • Reestablishing routines and rituals
  • Helping to create a positive vision of the future

Download or listen (in Spanish) to psychologist Marta Chinchilla:

 

Psychologist Marta Chinchilla Murillo of Bogotá brought the discussion to the concrete reality of continual violence in her home country of Colombia. She enumerated risks for journalists and effective strategies for resilience as occurring at three levels. Risks at the personal level included:

  • Isolation
  • Stereotypes and stigmatization that prevent help-seeking
  • Loss of life-protecting activities
  • Low quality of life
  • Loss of social support

 Risks at the workplace included:

  • Indefinite contracts
  • Low pay
  • News companies not taking steps for mental health
  • Long hours
  • Censorship

And risks at the community level included:

  • Stigmatization
  • Harassment

Strategies for personal resilience included: 

  • Increase personal access to help
  • Educate themselves about journalism, trauma and resilience

Workplace strategies included:

  • Manage stereotypes
  • Teach managers about mental health support
  • Create peer support groups

And finally, communtiy strategies included:

  • Support journalists and their families
  • Help promote access to help for individuals

 

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