How to Manage Student Trauma with Mindfulness Practices
Written in collaboration with Janet Wilson, Development Manager at Cafe Reconcile
Café Reconcile possesses a wealth of knowledge around providing youth development and job training that is informed by the past experiences of their participants. They are a youth development program first, culinary training program second. Since emotional health and soft skills development are crucial components of employability, Café Reconcile uses trauma-informed care practices with a focus on mindfulness to create a safe space for students to manage their past traumas and move forward in a meaningful and healthy direction.
For students with adverse and traumatic experiences in their past, mindfulness assists with bodily awareness, emotional regulation, pain management and relief, and in alleviating PTSD symptoms. Incorporating mindfulness into student programming helps relieve stress and teaches mental health practices to participants. Each morning of the Café Reconcile program, students will participate in a mindfulness exercise led by a program instructor to begin the day in a positive way.
"The square breathing technique that we did in mindfulness once really helped me step back during an argument before I responded with anger. Before I reacted, I was able to physically calm myself down by doing the breathing." -Student (Class 1, 2019)
Within the past decade, mindfulness as a routine practice has been implemented in numerous educational and professional settings across the nation. The proven benefits of mindfulness include increased focus, mental health symptom relief, improved physical health, relationship building, and many others. Program leaders will discuss these efforts during our Trauma-Informed Care session at the Youth/Young Adult Training Workshop in May.
In 2018, Café Reconcile received a one-year grant from the Institute of Mental Hygiene to offer professional development to staff and alumni providing best practice training in the area of Trauma Informed Care (TIC). The TIC Professional Development curriculum includes eight sessions to educate employees about Trauma Informed Care, grief, and suicide prevention.
Each one-hour session provides an educational overview of topics explaining how TIC can intersect and relate to both Café Reconcile staff and participants. The training is interactive and teaches specific skills, including empathy by using role play, videos, guest speakers, and discussions. When these TIC trainings conclude, Café Reconcile will become a TIC community, providing opportunity youth (ages 16-24 years old) with the best quality service and care.
“As a result of participating in this training, the one new thing moving forward I will try to use is the different techniques of actively listening and giving facts during conflicts.” – Staff (TIC Session #3)
We are looking forward to digging into this topic and more with workshop hosts Café Reconcile and Liberty’s Kitchens at the Youth/Young Adult Training Workshop on May 8th & 9th. Both programs base their decision making and program curriculum on the needs of their students, therefore are ideal examples of youth programming.
Other workshop topics include managing strong employer relationships, conflict resolution among students regarding racial and ethnic differences, and identifying leadership positions for youth, as Liberty’s Kitchens’ has done through their Youth Leadership Council.