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Parenting support keeps the door open for survivors
September 14, 2020
The word crisis in Chinese can be either an opportunity or a danger depending on one’s perception of the situation. For the staff and volunteers at Emerge, COVID-19 has been challenging but also an opportunity to work differently and learn new skills while retaining a trauma-informed approach to the work.
Marion*, one of our arts therapists shared her views to describe the many benefits of using zoom, not least because it gives a snap shot into a client’s home life which has been invaluable.
While still delivering creative arts therapy, and providing a virtual healing space for the women and children, the work has shifted to also providing virtual parenting support which highlights the many challenges that families are facing.
“I have witnessed mothers and children sharing the traumatic experiences of past family violence, feelings which have been triggered while isolated together in this stressful environment. Usual patterns of coping have been taken away and some therefore must fall back on older, possibly maladaptive coping mechanisms to survive,” Marion said.
This opportunity to provide parenting support brings with it fresh thinking and new ideas for managing challenging emotions or behaviours at home.
“One mother stated that simply seeing a missed call from me is enough to remind her to pause, take a deep breath and have a moment of grounding in the chaos of home,” Marion said.
For Marion and the Emerge team, the past few months have offered glimpses into a world they would not normally share with their clients and the value that clients attach to the staff and the organisation’s work.
“It has been astonishing and poignant to realise how powerful the bonds with our clients are during this time. Very few women and children have disengaged from our service despite not being unableto see us face-to-face. Past clients have also reached out, not to re-engage in therapy but simply totouch base with workers who bring them safety and comfort,” Marion said.
She said the team had witnessed first-hand the stress and anxiety of COVID-19 retriggering past traumatic experiences.
“We expect the traumatic impact of this pandemic combined with isolation and family violence will be a deadly health crisis in Australia moving forward. We are now preparing ourselves for the wave of work to come.”