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Interviews on Navigating COVID-19

The following interviews are personal accounts of service providers from various settings as they adapt in response to COVID-19—an ongoing and possibly traumatic event for many. All interviews highlight the role of strength and resilience in survivors’ journeys toward growth and healing. 

9/11/20 - New interviews with Ambika and Lynn now available! 

Ambika (Provider)

6/29/20 - In this podcast episode, Ambika Swami describes the ways in which a trauma-informed lens has been useful to her as she continues to provide person-centered, individualized support services to people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities in community-integrated settings as a staff member at Community Services for Every1. Ambika highlights how the flexibility, transparency, and follow-through demonstrated by leadership at Community Services for Every1 have bolstered her own resourcefulness and empowerment in ways that strengthen her ability to respond effectively to the diverse needs of the population with which she works. Ambika also explores the many inspiring, creative ways she has discovered to establish and maintain important connections, foster psychological and physical safety, and provide meaningful choice points in a unique setting during a global pandemic. 

Keywords: intellectual and developmental disabilities; spirituality; connection; resiliency; creativity; gratitude; technology 

Erin (Provider)

5/23/20 - In this podcast episode, Erin Connolly shares strategies she has used to continue to adapt to a “new normal” as a school social worker in a setting where students are often faced with adverse experiences and conditions like poverty and violence at home. Erin further delves into the ways that the education policy landscape has shaped the ways in which she is able to offer choice and collaborate during the pandemic. Erin also explores the meaning survivors ascribe to life experiences in her role as a private trauma therapist, specifying the ways she has noticed challenges and adversity leading to profound displays of strength, resiliency, and growth when a trauma-informed approach is employed. Erin also candidly divulges how the pandemic has impacted her as an individual and as a provider, sharing new strategies that she has employed to help her establish healthy boundaries, cope with increased stressors, and maintain the ability to be present and trauma-informed with clients and students alike during the pandemic.

Keywords: pandemic; school; social work; boundaries; self-care; vicarious trauma; shame/blame; transparency; collective care; yoga; universal precaution; policy

Jesse (Provider/Survivor)

4/10/20 – In this podcast episode, Jesse Kohler describes how a trauma-informed approach has helped North Light Community Center in Philadelphia continue to support its workforce as well as those who access North Light’s many services despite the profound disruptions COVID-19 has caused. Jesse, who serves as a Board Member for the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice in addition to playing the role of North Light’s Director of Development, also shares how advocates can use the lessons learned from the pandemic to advance trauma-informed policies and cultivate resilient communities that integrate a trauma-informed, whole-person approach to healing post-pandemic and beyond. Jesse also shares profound personal stories about the way his own traumatic experiences have shaped his approach to caring for others as well as how emerging from these challenging circumstances stronger than ever before has brought to light for him new possibilities for himself as well as for society-at-large.

Keywords: pandemic; community; workforce support; resiliency; policy; care coordination; advocacy; post-traumatic growth

Lynn (Provider)

8/3/20 – In this Trauma Talks interview, Lynn Siradas, the Director of Foster Care and Organizational Development at New Directions Youth and Family Services, shines a spotlight on the ways the trauma of COVID-19, in parallel with the trauma related to racism and social unrest, are impacting individuals, families, and the community, further exploring how a trauma-informed approach can support healing, resilience, and healthy coping among community members as well as among staff providing services and supports to others in trying times. Notably, Lynn touches on the compounding challenges and inequities communities of colors face at this time, as well as on how federal- and state-level policy responses have impacted child- and family-serving systems. Lynn also shares strategies that she has found effective to engender safety, build and maintain trust, collaborate, provide choice points, and support empowerment for both clients and staff alike. In addition to providing valuable insight around what has been useful and effective to helping her continue in a challenging role during an unprecedented juncture in history, Lynn illuminates how the core tenets of trauma-informed care can be mobilized as tools to facilitate healing, meaning, and a sense of purpose both personally and in a professional capacity. 

Keywords: foster care; families; young people; policy; self-care; racial and historical trauma; isolation; meaning-making 

Meagan (Provider/Survivor)

4/15/20 – Meagan Corrado integrates a trauma-informed approach into her role as a full-time faculty member at Bryn Mawr College, works as a practicing trauma therapist, and also has pioneered an innovative intervention for trauma survivors called Storiez. In this podcast episode, Meagan shares insights gleaned through her extensive experience directly working with survivors of trauma as well as from her own personal trauma history. Meagan draws attention to the remarkable displays of resiliency and strength she has noticed among trauma survivors and highlights how the five central principles of trauma-informed care are critical in helping trauma survivors mobilize their unique skills and strategies to thrive in the face of adversity.  Throughout the interview, Meagan also emphasizes the importance of connection and creativity in building resilience and facilitating post-traumatic growth. 

Keywords: pandemic; art; storytelling; meaning-making; youth; trauma-specific therapy; narrative; creativity

Paige (Provider)

4/18/20 – In this podcast episode, Paige Iovine-Wong, a University at Buffalo student who graduates this year with an MSW/MPH dual degree, describes the importance of facilitating healing in ways that pay heed to lived experience. Hearkening to her experience working with survivors of military sexual trauma, Paige reflects on the ways those in helper roles can foment feelings of safety, trust, and empowerment by providing choice and finding creative ways to connect and collaborate with others even in times of physical distancing. Paige also illuminates the importance of recognizing the impact of the work as those in helper roles are impacted by the collectively traumatic pandemic and espouses the importance of providers tending to their own needs such that they are able to continue to serve other in a trauma-informed way.

Keywords: pandemic; secondary trauma; military trauma; sexual trauma; mindfulness; resilience; self-care; universal precaution

Perri (Provider)

5/22/20 - Perri Kruse has extensive experience working with trauma survivors, including program development, clinical, and supervisory roles at Community Connections, the site at which Dr. Maxine Harris and Dr. Roger Fallot established the five guiding values of trauma-informed care.  In this podcast  episode, Perri describes how these values continue to shape the meaningful work she does as she has transitioned to serving in a large, urban hospital setting during a pandemic that disproportionately impacts marginalized and vulnerable communities.  Perri also provides creative examples of how she has managed to honor lived experience in ways that increase safety, collaboration, trust, and empowerment among those navigating the pandemic in a particularly challenging setting.  Illuminating both the empowering joys and the increased distress frontline workers are experiencing in medical settings throughout the conversation, Perri shares insights the importance of engaging in ongoing self-reflection and taking action to cope with and buffer direct and secondary traumatic stress during the era of COVID-19.

Keywords: pandemic; hospital/medical; creativity; resilience; positivity/reframing; self-care; mindfulness; frontline workers; gratitude; connection

Sherie (Provider)

5/20/20 - In this podcast episode, Sherie Friedrich describes her experience leading MediTelecare’s Trauma-Informed Care Initiative while serving in her role as the organization’s Chief Psychology Officer—a formidable challenge given that MediTelecare provides behavioral telehealth services to over 20,000 residents of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities across 17 states.  Sherie shares sage wisdom on preparing for and implementing sustainable change that will assure that staff are equipped with the necessary resources and training to recognize trauma and its effects as well as commit to cultivating a culture that resists re-traumatization. She also speaks to the profound differences she has noticed since the Initiative launched.  Sherie highlights how she and her staff create opportunities for choice in the restrictive times of COVID-19, build trust to restore a sense of safety during a collective trauma event, and foster connection and empowerment to keep others (and themselves) moving resiliently forward.

Keywords: pandemic; telehealth; connection; self-care; meditation; assisted living; skilled nursing; empathy; meaning-making; re-traumatization

Sister Beth (Provider)

4/17/20 – In this podcast episode, Sister Beth Niederpruem describes her experience as a social worker at the Jericho Road Community Health Center’s Vive La Casa (Vive) program, which provides safe refuge and additional supports to people seeking asylum. Sister Beth calls attention to the ways the uncertain circumstances around COVID-19 are re-traumatizing the residents as they continue to lead lives very different from those they envisioned for themselves upon arriving in America. She also explains the ways that Vive’s trauma-informed approach has helped residents cope more effectively with and continue functioning in spite of the disruption of their lives as well as the legal process for seeking asylum, illuminating the power of hope in helping ourselves and others navigate the pandemic and other challenges we may face.

Keywords: pandemicasylum seekers; refugees; immigration; faith/spirituality; residential; hope