Team Practices Self-Care by Painting Together

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of depths. These persons have appreciation, sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
— Elisabeth Kuber-Ross

Our team and Supervisor Penny Liddell’s recently had the opportunity to validate the above mentioned quote and experience how critical SaintA’s seventh Essential Ingredient of Trauma Inform Care — caregiver capacity — is to our ability to continue connecting with the beauty of self-awareness for ourselves and then sharing it with the people we serve, one family at a time. Caregiver capacity stresses work/life balance as necessary to caring for individuals who have experienced trauma.

In our day-to-day human services profession, I have observed and experienced how quickly we connect with staff, children, parents, caregivers and the traumatic experiences that out-of-home care present. The impact can be extremely exhausting for all parties involved, especially those of us who spend most of our working hours with the families. However, when coupled with an awesome team seeking balance and relaxation, if given paint and a blank canvas, the possibilities are endless!

Splash Retreat
From left, Antrell Jones, James Burrows, Peggy Moore and Joshua Weigand.

At the Splash Art Studio, rhythmic strokes, repetitive movement, regulation through music, conversation and laughter filled the studio as we interacted with one another. The only restriction was no communication regarding work. Splash definitely was designed to allow one to remember the importance of taking time to refuel, regain, recompose and then reproduce. I could not have been provided with a better opportunity to spend an afternoon with a group of staff and strangers who realized the importance of play and relationship.

Throughout my two years SaintA, our department and the agency as a whole have done an extraordinary job inculcating the importance of caregiver capacity. Yes, it’s known as the final ingredient in our agency’s model of understanding and implementing trauma informed care. But I see it as being strategically placed to hold the six other ingredients together and rightfully so, as the number 7 is known as the number of perfection/completion.

I’d like to share some of the thoughts my team had on this outing:

James Burrows, family engagement specialist

When it comes to caregiver capacity, and especially self-care, I find myself comparing SaintA with the various companies my friends work for. Hearing stories about “I feel like my work’s just not appreciated,” I find myself always walking away from the conversation with a belief that the philosophy and practice around caregiver capacity and self-care that SaintA practices honestly are unique and special.

I was lucky enough to enjoy an outing with a handful of my co-workers at Splash Studio. Besides the identical and very realistic portrait of my beloved cat I made, I left with a much stronger understanding of the impact that caregiver capacity and self-care can have.

What this outing provided was a chance to release and disconnect from the daily realities that our line of work places on us. It created an environment for us to connect on a more human level, and not just discuss how we can best serve the unique needs of a family. It allowed us to share stories, interests and commonalities that help strengthen our bond as co-workers. Ultimately, it helped me leave feeling a little more refreshed about work than I had felt coming in.

This outing represents one of the many caregiver-conscious activities proved by our organization, through the constant conversations and emphasis around caregiver capacity, employee recognition events, or even something as simple as a birthday card. When I speak with my friends about what my work provides, I always have a handful of positive things to say.

Antrell Jones, family engagement specialist

Working with so many different families who are from so many different parts of life, we begin to carry some of their baggage. As a family engagement specialist, it is impossible to not become connected to the families you see almost every day. We (the staff) forget to take time for ourselves and enjoy what we have and the people we have in our lives. It’s not easy to take time off, and there are always cases rushing in, so time to relax is almost impossible at times.

During the painting retreat, we not only got to enjoy painting (which is very relaxing), but we got to have conversations with each other and learn new things about people on our team that we never knew. While in the office, if you have time to say “Hi” and “Bye,” we think that’s good, but being able to relax with your team outside the stresses of cases was amazing.

Joshua Weigand, family engagement specialist

Taking personal time out for family and friends during the holidays isn’t very easy. It involves scheduling time off, finding coverage for visits, and most importantly, helping the families we serve spend their time with loved ones during the holiday season.

Having things like this retreat was a really nice reminder that SaintA cares about us and our well-being. It’s refreshing to talk with co-workers outside of the hectic work environment on a real, down-to-earth level. Sometimes everyone needs to be grounded every once in awhile; and now I have an exquisite piece of artwork to hang in my cubicle!


Interested in learning more about trauma informed care? Attend a community training session.

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3 Responses to Team Practices Self-Care by Painting Together

  1. Penny says:

    Cross connecting with teams outside of work was a great experience. I truely enjoyed this time outside the hustle and bustle of our professional roles.

  2. Victoria Bennett says:

    This is validation for the enormous effort it takes to work with families and individuals experiencing trauma. I’m a senior director of a non profit agency with a focus on residential services for homeless families and I’ve communicated my experiences and the experiences of my staff for years throughout the system in which I’ve worked and what I’ve just read is additional validation for the new work/research that’s on the rise. Thanks for discovering the critical need for self care and resources for staff and trauma informed work. This may support my agency to find resources to further our work.

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